The present problem is that we import most of our food from abroad and have to pay very high prices for it. Very little land is being used for the production of local food. Most of the cultivated land is taken up with producing cocoa, nutmegs and bananas for the export market.
We need a National Food Strategy which would be linked with our Agricultural plan to provide all our local food consumption. Right now we import more than half the food we eat, and we call ourselves an agricultural country!
This plan must provide a regular supply of meats, vegetables, provisions, and milk products. Here, we must stress the increased production of tomatoes, eggplants, hot and sweet pepper, lettuce, parsley, spinach, cabbage, cauliflower, snap beans, lima beans, black eye peas, pigeon peas, soya beans, cucumber, melons, musk melons, pumpkins, beetroot, carrots, onions, sweet potatoes, yarns, okra and corn.
People who grow local good do so only for their own needs rather than producing it in large quantities for local consumption out of which they can make a good living. They feel bound to do so as there are only very poor facilities or arrangements for selling these goods. The problem is not that there is no market, otherwise half of our food would not be imported. The problem must be that there are no proper local marketing facilities.
It costs too much to build a house because we do not use local materials. We have to borrow money from foreign banks at high interest rates to buy cement made outside of Grenada and to buy foreign-made furniture. Then, we must face the high cost of buying or renting a spot and the high cost of sand and gravel and of carrying it to the site.
What is needed is the creation of a National low-cost Housing Plan which would use local materials like wood, high-quality clay for bricks, and river sand. These houses must be built cooperative, like in the old days when maroons were the order of the day, and with government-assisted finance.
There has never been a proper survey made of the natural resources/raw materials available for the construction of houses, schools, hospitals, churches (and so on), and this must be done now.
We are in favour of immediately giving title deeds to persons who have been in possession, whether as tenants or squatters, of lands owned by the Government.
The problem here is that we import most of the clothing and the materials from abroad and then are made to buy them at high prices. On top of this, frequently this clothing is unsuitable for our climate.
What is required is the revival of the cotton industry in Carriacou to provide the basic raw materials for a local textile and garment industry to supply all of the clothing needs of the State.
We are not talking about simply exporting the cotton abroad as in the past where they made clothes out of it and sent it back to us at three times the price. Instead, we will keep all this money and then make the shirts, dresses, pants, etc., ourselves in our own garment factories out of that same cloth. We will use our own local designs and styles in our factories in place of the imported colonial jacket and tie. This will create a major outlet for many of our young and talented people, most of whom already have the required skills.
Our plan will at the same time provide more work for our people in Carriacou, Grenada and Petit Martinique.
The skins which we could get from the large scale production of rabbits, sheep, goats, pigs, and so on, could be used to make the belts and handbags which we now import in large quantities from abroad.
A plan for the economic development of Grenada consists of four basic sectors, (1) Agriculture, (2) Fisheries, (3) Agro-industries and (4) New Tourism. None of these is being taught in any systematic way in any of our Primary or Secondary schools. If we are serious about having an educational system that serves the needs of the people for a better standard of life, then the curriculum (what is taught) of both Primary and Secondary schools must center around the teaching of these subjects in an organised, regular, imaginative and practical way. Our school leavers must be equipped with the basic skills required for the expanding agricultural and fisheries sectors; for the running of factories producing goods coming from these sectors; and for running the hotels, restaurants and other facilities of an expanding locally-owned and controlled tourist industry.
High-quality education at the Primary and Secondary levels should not be the privilege of the middle classes and the few others lucky enough to get scholarships. We propose a carefully-worked out plan of Free Secondary Education throughout the island. We believe that schools must train our young people in the society so that they can become an active part of the community. People who have skills acquired over the years in agriculture, fisheries, handicraft and general life experiences must be organised to pass on this knowledge to the pupils. In this way, our teachers and students with the help of the adults of the community can produce History books, Geography books, other forms of teaching materials which would be the basis for teaching throughout the school system. This plan would bring together in a concrete way parents, teachers and children working closely in co-operation. This practical, productive activity would raise our living standards in every area.
Freedom Schools-We propose the creation of what we call Freedom Schools. At these schools, our people will be given the opportunity or acquiring certain basic skills, such as competence in agricultural techniques, boat-building, craftsmanship, first aid and simple medicine, typing, shorthand. We intend focussing on areas outside of St. George's where the need is greatest and people have been neglected for too long.
These schools will also provide basic information on matters affecting us in our daily lives, for example, family-life education, explanations on the law in practice, elementary principles of taxation, reading and writing, black history, Geography, and Elementary Economics. These schools will be independent of the present school system and will be staffed by volunteers.