With Prime Minister Dr. the Hon. Timothy Harris in attendance, the Rev. Canon P. Allister Rawlins of the St. John’s Parish Church, St. John’s Capisterre, with St. Mary’s, Dieppe Bay, talked of the delicate state of food security while delivering the sermon at the Harvest Thanksgiving Service Sunday.
“We are not growing enough food as we used to. We live in a country that is called Liamuiga which means ‘fertile land’ and yet we are dependent on other people for our food production,” lamented Rev. Rawlins on the country’s has poor harvests.
With a variety of freshly harvested food crops and fruits on display, the Harvest Thanksgiving service held in Year C – 23rd Sunday after Pentecost attendees included Prime Minister and Area Parliamentary Representative, Dr. Harris, accompanied by Ambassador His Excellency Michael Powell and a contingent of Constituency Number Seven Group members.
“I think it is important for us to think deeply about how we are going to feed ourselves. I talked about an idea that I have that we should have some sort of programme where once you leave high school everybody should have to do a year or two of national service, not in military as it is done in some countries throughout the world, but a food production agriculture programme where we could plant crops, we can raise chicken, we can raise cows and goats so we can feed ourselves… after those two years then we can go to college and be whatever else we want to be,” Rev Rawlins said after the service.
Rev Rawlins, who later officiated at a second Harvest Thanksgiving Service at St. Paul’s Parish Church, St. Paul’s Capisterre, fears if the country does not do anything about the food situation, people will continue to go down the road of dependency. He observed that the country spends a lot of money on importation of food from North America and South America and recalled after the hurricanes of 2017 the country could not get vegetables and fruits that normally come from Dominica and St. Vincent.
“We have Harvest Thanksgiving Service every year around this time,” commented Rev Rawlins. “It used to be a lot more produce than it is now because not too many people are planting any more. We would want people to grow more food not only to bring to the Harvest Thanksgiving Service but so that we can feed ourselves, which is much better than buying food from abroad when we could grow it here.”
Prime Minister Harris said the message of food security is an important one. He noted a goal of the administration is to take the country to a place where it produces most of what it needs in terms of fruits, vegetables, meat products and fisheries, and that the pastor’s message was one of citizens’ empowerment to take control of their life and destiny.
In the past, he said, the government would have pushed the idea of backyard gardens where every household makes a conscious effort to engage in some form of food production activity. Technology is such that a lot can be done through hydroponics and other traditional methods.
“…We are in full support of the message of the pastor. From today we think that the Rev Father was correct in making an appeal for us as a country to become more focused and consistent in initiatives leading to food security,” he said. “The Father wants agriculture to feature in national service as a way to enhance food security. The matter has not been discussed by the Cabinet, and the compulsory National Service has not been addressed.”