Fri 9th Jun 2017
The SVG economy is dangerously weak, and consequently unemployment and crime is high, there is extensive poverty throughout the country, and many households have no mains water and electricity and struggle to feed their families. As a solution to all of this, the Taiwan ambassador has suggested that we grow flowers.
The Taiwan ambassador is clearly stupid to suggest that we grow flowers to boost the SVG economy. The financial yield on this would be minimal and it is a precarious industry. If he was really concerned about boosting the SVG economy, he would make sure Taiwan pays its EC$2 billion a year in fish tax.
According to the Leader of SVG Green Party, Warrant Officer Ivan O’Neal BSc (hons), MSc, MBA, Taiwan’s recommendation to SVG to grow flowers to stimulate economic growth, is a gross insult to our people and country.
When it comes to the economic matters of SVG, Taiwan should either pay up or shut up. If Taiwan paid the fish tax of EC$2 billion a year to the SVG Treasury, then this would lift the standard of living for all who live in SVG.
Poorer people find it hard to feed their children adequately and many food items are expensive as we are over-dependent on importing over EC$200 million worth of food every year. It would be a disgrace, therefore, to waste valuable agricultural land to grow flowers, instead of food.
We can’t eat flowers.
The flower industry uses a huge amount of fresh water. The water needed for one rose flower is estimated to be about 13 litres. Kenya’s cut flowers industry in the Lake Naivasha Basin consumed about 16 million cubic metres of water a year during the period of 1996 to 2005.
Given that so many households in SVG find it hard to get enough water at present, it would be a disaster to devote so much water to a crop we cannot eat.
The flower industry is also highly polluting. Workers at Lake Naivasha get rashes from the pesticides. Pesticide application has resulted in high toxicity levels causing environmental risk, with chemicals (e.g. oxamyl, methomyl and fenamiphos) that are very toxic to humans being found in the water.
Lake Naivasha is now seriously polluted and people who live around the lake must seek water from elsewhere. Historians have found evidence of communities on Lake Naivasha going back 4,000 years.
However, in a couple of decades, it will have been all but destroyed, due to pollution and the massive amount of water extraction by the Kenyan flower industry.
SVG should not threaten its water supplies any more, by putting even more pesticides in to the water supply.
The Taiwan ambassador was wrong to recommend that SVG grows flowers as a solution to the serious economic and social problems the country faces.
Taiwan has been in SVG for 36 years, yet has not built one factory in SVG to promote jobs and revenue creation. It is time that we call a spade a spade and expel the Taiwan ambassador from SVG for insulting the people of SVG.