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THE LOWDOWN: Fight for our Bajan products

Richard Hoad

THE LOWDOWN: Fight for our Bajan products

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All ah we Bajans is one.
Some say it’s the shrimp. That would be my guess too. I got invited to a diplomatic reception once. And, man, shrimps big as young donkeys!
And no hassle of positioning yourself to grab one here and there.
A tray lady stood there inviting us to take all we want. Compared to the teeny shrimps at our house – indistinguishable from the surrounding scraps of fried batter – this was heaven.
Would I talk nonsense for donkey-sized shrimp? Not sure, but I’d be tempted.
Others blame the language. I mean, if you’re a “diplo-mat”, expect others to wipe their feet on you. And as for “amb-ass-ador”, yessir, that’s you right there in the middle.
Be that as it may, I was more than a little dismayed at Ambassador Bobby Morris’ wallowing in adulation and excuses for our new colonial master Trinidad. If the above theory is right, Bobby must love shrimp!
Mr Morris has no time for our misplaced “emotionalism”. Apparently, nowadays a Barbadian isn’t supposed to love his country; his allegiance must instead be to the region.
So God forbid any Bajan should feel hurt and humiliated when a most national of institutions, our Barbados National Bank, is renamed “Republic”.
In the Trinidad/Pine Hill Dairy case, our dairy products were blocked for 18 months! And this in the context where, according to Minister Haynesley “God bless him” Benn, in 2009 we imported $631.4 million in Trini products while they bought $69.4 million from us. In 2010, we imported $748.9 million from them; exported $86.8 million. In 2011, almost a billion Bajan dollars went Triniwards for imported goods; they bought $111.3 million from us.
But Mr Morris found no negativity in the Trini stance: they “were quite willing to do whatever it took”. They even apologized for the actions of their Food and Drugs Division. Cuddear! Say, Bobby, could you get them to use vaseline next time around?
Our CARICOM/CSME advocates used to brag about the European Community: after centuries of fighting wars, they now have one currency, free movement, unrestricted economic activity.
What is the position now? Currency mashing up; immigration control a key issue in every country’s election; the economic big sharks eating up the small fry; 22 million may be unemployed if austerity continues.
Are we too blind to see that CARICOM is headed the same way? If so, why is Froon grinning in every picture with a bunch of they-look-white-to-me CARICOM leaders?
Friends, we have been shafted. Says Benn: we are “always quick to act and sign on the dotted line but then the others are not acting in the right way”. Says Minister Kellman: “We pay our dues . . . we ensure that we do our fair share of trade.”
Ambassador Morris’ response in my opinion reflects the very tasteless comment once made by a BBC cricket commentator: “If rape can’t be avoided, enjoy it”.
So how do we get out of this very tight situation? The Good Book says: “It is hard to kick against the pricks.” Okay, it will be hard. A Trini recently commented how we are on the brink of an IMF intervention, our Government is in denial, and we should devalue our highly overvalued currency.
So let’s fight our way out. First, try to help your Bajan brothers “eat ah food”. Spend something with the roadside vendors selling cashews, mammy apples, coconuts, whatever. Enjoy an eat-out at Sandunes or any Bajan restaurant. Take in a calypso tent. Pay a fellow to wash your car or paint a garden bench.
If Pine Hill wants cheaper milk to compete regionally, I agree the farmers should take a cut. But the farmers are only one cog in the milk production wheel.
How about the feed-makers and the milk plant staff? Shouldn’t they also take a cut and have their wives and children pitching in for free like we do? Shouldn’t politicians take a cut so we can be taxed less?
And how about we highly-paid columnists who get more for turning out two hours of drivel than a hotel maid earns in a week? Can we take a 50 per cent reduction so THE NATION could advertise Bajan products more cheaply? Yes, we can!  
• Richard Hoad is a farmer and social commentator.