“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will no fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” – Psalm 23: 4
We have experienced a very turbulent hurricane season what with Category 5 winds, storm surges way above the average and relentless rainfall with disastrous consequences around the Caribbean. We who have been spared please observe a moment of reflection for those who are now struggling in recovery mode.
In Barbados, the Trustees of the Graham Gooding Trust commemorate the late E.G.B. Gooding (1915-1987) by the annual observance of Eat Bajan Day, this year on Friday, October 6, 2017. In contrast, Dominica, known as the Nature Island of the Caribbean, just 200 miles away, has been ravaged by Maria the menace.
Whereas, in such an emergency situation, we expect to receive requests for water and non perishable foodstuffs, I heard one voice, as if in the wilderness, appeal: “Please send us some seed, we have a brown island there is no greenery left, all our crops are gone, agriculture has been destroyed, we have to start all over again.” It will be a while before Dominica can promote Eat Dominican Day, nevertheless that has to be part of the vision for a rehabilitated Dominica.
Dominica, as a small politically independent state, needs all the help it can get from its Caribbean Community states, which are in a position to help, and from the international community. It then needs to establish an international public private partnership which visions the future and advises the Prime Minister accordingly.
Developmental funds have to be sourced from developmental agencies to rebuild the infrastructure and creatively get a diversified economy going built around the land use potential and the resourcefulness of a nucleus of its people. This production potential will determine the global marketing opportunities that exist. We must get to work and train the populace one step after another as Dominicans climb out of the deep hole in which they have found themselves.
Here is a 10-point vision and action project which could ultimately provide a solution if immediately and diligently pursued: (1) Look at establishing renewable energy e.g. solar water heating, “solaricity” (electricity from the sun’s energy), wave and wind energy, combined heat and power units (CHP), which utilizes heat energy which normally goes to waste, and “absorption refrigeration” technology fuelled by natural gas for refrigerators and air conditioners; (2) build a well coordinated agricultural commodity project approach, one commodity at a time, which manages the supply chain to the available markets, including hotels, restaurants and cruise ships (Tourism linkages); Institutions; Supermarkets; Wholesale markets; Retail farmers’ markets; Hucksters; Agro-processing (Condiments Association, crop drying, crop storage, baby carrot production, flour production from local crops such as sweet potato, breadfruit and cassava); Exports; Import substitution; and Livestock feed (Sorghum); (3) Encourage enterprise development particularly those projects that have the “DNA of an elephant” or the potential for high performance on the global market; (4) Enhance productivity in the public and private sectors in order become more competitive and foster sustainable economic growth; (5) Persuade trade unions to expand their mandate to foster employer/employee partnership towards greater productivity for fair compensation.
(6) Focus on “doing business” as creatively and as profitably as possible in the private sector environment and invest some of the profits back into the growth of the economy; (7) Create an enabling environment based on innovative policies and effective services endorsed by the political directorate; (8) Tax the outputs not the inputs – start small, do it right, make a profit, then expand; (9) Involve the mass media in engaging buy-in by the populace through optimal communication strategies; (10) Enhance the capability of the social partnership to contribute to sustainable socio-economic success.
As we Eat Bajan 2017, let us think of Dominica and other countries in the Caribbean which are faced with a tough situation. Let us help them to rise to the top of the mountain from the valley of the shadow of death, remembering that He is still with us, and His rod and Staff will comfort us.