Start small

Start small

Lofty ambitions are in principle a good thing to be encouraged when appropriate. However, the announcement by interim Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunication (TEATT) Omar Ottley that St. Maarten is considering leasing land elsewhere for agricultural sustainability programmes (see Thursday paper) was met with widespread bewilderment.
He reportedly said Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs is involved in discussions “whether it’s with Suriname and other different countries” about the matter to “hopefully import our own food slowly, but surely.” As appears from reactions among society so far, most remain – at the very least – sceptical about the idea.
Questions to be answered include who will be working the farm(s) abroad at what cost and how the produce is to get back to the island. After all, experience with attempts to promote inter-regional trade even within the Caribbean Community CARICOM invariably ran into transport shipping expense and reliability issues, as the routes concerned are usually not on main shipping lines’ itineraries.
While that does not necessarily mean the plan can’t work, many wonder whether it would not be more prudent to focus on local possibilities for now. Suspended Member of Parliament (MP) Claudius Buncamper is on record offering family property for farming and there have been other worthwhile initiatives.
By the way, fruit and vegetables from other nations in the area like the Dominican Republic are already available on the island. There is no guarantee that long-distance farming would lead to a better and cheaper offer.
Think big, start small.

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