Wed | Jan 23, 2019

Survival in the global marketplace

Published:Monday | November 24, 2014 | 12:00 AM

GUEST EDITOR, Bishop Howard Gregory

One of the failures of governance in our nation has been a lack of communication with the population on issues which have a serious impact on our lives. There seems to be the underlying assumption that a speech or two given on some platform or other will be an effective tool of communicating new ideas, values, and processes which will impact the life of our people in significant ways.

Globalisation, for example, remains a foreign concept to a lot of our people, but one which touches our lives at the most basic and mundane level. While globalisation is fundamentally an expression of an economic and technologically driven philosophy of the free-market system, and involves the free transfer and exchange of capital, goods and services, ideas, and other aspects of culture across national frontiers, it impacts people in developing nations like our own at the very basic level of keeping body and soul together.

The recent news reports concerning the subject of chicken back probably left some persons embarrassed that the newspaper could devote space to something as mundane as this. Yet, while consisting primarily of bones, it speaks to the fact that this is a basic source of protein for our people, and its ability to provide the soup or the gravy which sustains the members of many households, notwithstanding the portrayals of this as a gourmet's delight.

The globalised marketplace and its rules allow our business sector, formal and informal, to seek out cheap goods which are being manufactured by countries which are notorious for paying low wages to their workers and who work under substandard conditions; or the surplus, subsidised, or unmarketable goods of industrialised nations, and to dispose of them in our society, with dire consequences for our productive sector, and in this case, our food security.

It has been asserted that we are not able to satisfy the demand from local production or to do so at a competitive price. And yet, if we were to simply stop with such an assertion, the chicken-back dilemma would be a paradigm of what is in store for us under globalisation, as the inputs for production, and not just the cost of labour or our level of productivity, will place us forever at a disadvantage.

Survival in this global marketplace will require initiatives on the part of the Government, in conjunction with private-sector interests, to provide some form of stimulus to our agricultural sector that can fill this glaring niche, promote research through our tertiary institutions and agricultural agencies to find feed substitutes to some of the imported ones, and promote a vision that takes our people's diet beyond the bare bones of chicken back. It would appear that we have closed the door on this issue and moved on but, if this is the case, then our attitude to our survival in this globalised world seems to be defeatist at best, and dismal at worst.