EDITORIAL – Give us this day our daily bread…
He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man: that he may bring forth food out of the earth; And wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine, and bread which strengtheneth man’s heart. – Psalms 104:14-15
TIME?WAS, not so long ago, that we were all swimming in surplus food. Everywhere.
Farmers the world over were so productive and competitive, and food prices reasonable – apart from the occasional spikes!
But international economic collapse has dealt a heavy blow to the food basket everywhere.
In the Caribbean, in particular in Barbados, where we struggle to maintain indigenous food stocks and relish in food importation, we vaccillate between the notion of reordering priorities and shoring up a prescribed “high standard of living”.
The question is: how long can we keep on talking about the “effects of the recession”, yet not appear to be living through them? What makes us think circumstances will continually permit export distributors themselves to be able to sell that which in any case we will growingly find difficult to import for rising costs?
This very week we have Purity Bakeries agonizing over carrying up its bread prices because of Barbados Mills Ltd’s increases on flour between 20 and 24 per cent from today.
What are Barbados Mills’ reasons? The impact of unfavourable weather conditions on wheat production in Canada, Russia and Australia. Wheat producers have experienced poor yields. Of course, this has resulted in soaring international market prices – to the point where Barbados Mills could lament having to purchase wheat in March at 58 per cent higher than the month before.
This cannot bode well.
Let us not forget the inititiative of increased use of corn for ethanol as a means of alternative energy. At least a third of the United States’ corn crop alone goes toward making fuel.
The prospects appear bleak.
Now more than ever our agricultural powers that be need to emphasize the urgency of food self-sufficiency and alternative crop choice.
Could we, for example, turn to cassava – or our sweet potato – for our “flour”?
Will we seriously take on the vegetable garden at the side or back of the home?
We know the good Lord is the source of the grass, herb, wine, oil and food of the earth – but they come only by the sweat of the brow; the will to make it all work.