The Caribbean can feed itself
The Caribbean can feed itself. And, the Caribbean must feed itself. Yes, we can. This has been a leading school of thought for decades, but one, which over time has faded away from mainstream conversation tales. What is it that prevents us from being self-sufficient in the area of food? Is it that we don’t like our own products, or have we developed a taste for the outside and made anything from out there somehow exotic and enchanting?
Today, CARICOM houses nearly 17 million inhabitants across more than 177 thousand square miles producing distinctive food products like Grenadian nutmeg and spice, Guyanese rice, Trinidadian curry and Jamaican pepper, in addition to food crops and a plethora of fruits and vegetables. Many make the case that we can feed ourselves, while others find this endeavor noble, but woefully perplexing in light of numerous challenges to agricultural success, which go beyond issues of size and insularity.
Some highlight the incidence of disease and unpredictable weather, while others point to the crisis of infrastructural preparedness – from mediocre irrigation and drainage systems to lackluster harvesting techniques, which translate to the visible regional lack of incentive for new and young farmers to enter the business of achieving food security and regional food self-sufficiency. The problem that emerges, though, beyond feeding ourselves is the sad prospect of losing our Caribbean flavor. Can we afford to replace our pepper sauce with ranch dressing?