Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Power, Pigs and Politics

Being an Environmental Health Officer, I have the displeasure of having to do Meat Inspections from time to time. And though my training as an Inspector does not expose me to what is necessary to be an authority on Macro-economic indicators and market trends, my experience as a Jamaican has given me much insight into various issues that affect my country. As an Environmental Health officer, one of the activities I am exposed to on the job is the inspection of meat from time to time. What I can safely say is the two preferred meats in Jamaica are Poultry and Pork - the two P's. I'm trying to adopt an "ital-centric" lifestyle therefore meat has been cut down somewhat and due to my religious persuasion, the latter was never on my menu, though I have to endure the noble indignity of ensuring the Public is exposed to that vile meat but as safe as possible. My job puts me in a position to declare that at least in the areas I work Pork is king of the meats. It is cheap, pigs are hardy, noisy and grow quite quickly and can eat almost anything (being noisy and heavy is a turn-off for those who like to eat what they didn't "sow" by the way). And after the total destruction of our cattle industry those with a knack of animal rearing prefer Pigs. I mean, had I not been religiously persuaded to think otherwise, the prospect of feeding something garbage and selling it for a tidy sum after 9 months would have had me sold years ago. Anyway, back to the matter at hand.

Mr. Roger Clarke, our Minister of Agriculture's back is as we say in Jamaica, quite broad and he therefore is able to take a lot of flack. That could explain why as an Agriculture Minister he would have the nerve to suggest to Jamaicans that there is a "shortfall" in pork production (I think he may have mistaken production for consumption, the latter would see him in hog's heaven). The Minister even goes further to say that this alleged "shortfall" in production must be met by the international market! An Agriculture Minister suggesting to persons that we must stop what we are doing to import and further weaken an already ailing sector - quite an interesting point of view for an Agriculture Minister to have isn't it? I need not mention what he should have said, even an idiot with half a brain knows what would work if there really was a shortfall in production of a commodity and there was more than enough resources available to meet that need. Subscribing to such reasoning (or lack thereof) will only serve to ruin an already ailing industry, leading it down the path our Cattle Industry has been led by a previous administration that you would have to be born around my time to experience. I remember growing up on a 400 hectare cattle farm that did quite well and provided significant bread towards the winnings of my father who was the Farm Manager then. I remember days when our Agriculture production was viable and believe it or not sought after. I also remember quite recently a sudden glut of imports that sounded the death-knell for our local farms and farmers. I pray the Minister and his administration will be enlightened, and put the benefit of the nation before personal gains, let's hope he heeds the advice given him, or would giving him advice be casting pearls before swines? Do we want anymore of this? I guess that is what you get when you mix Power Pigs and Politics!!!

Funny enough, two P's signify an epithet used by many Jamaicans for our current Agriculture Minister Mr. Roger Clarke, hardly affectionately and I would therefore rather not repeat it in this forum. So, "eat what you grow" was gaining a bit of traction until the majority saw it fit to explore other options such as eat what you import.