Cutting the High and Rising Food Import Bill: Reflection on a Caribbean Strategy that Worked: Trinidad and Tobago, 1939-1945

In recent years, the Caribbean problems of declining overseas revenue from traditional export crops such as sugar, banana, and cocoa has been aggravated by another growing problem, that of the high and rising food import bill. The worsening situation has commanded the urgent attention of governments, agricultural technicians and management personnel throughout the entire CARICOM Region. Caribbean peoples and their governments are obviously concerned about the consumption patterns in each individual territory, and the CARICOM Region as a whole. Consequently, new strategies have been developed and are still being developed to cut, and even to eliminate the Food Import Bill. This paper examines an agricultural strategy which worked successfully throughout the Caribbean during the wax years 1939-1945. It details agricultural production in Trinidad and Tobago during those years and finds that before the commencement of the Great War, food imports were high and rising. During the war, imports were forced to be curtailed substantially and local food production rose considerably to a point of relative self-sufficiency. After the conclusion of the war, however, imports began to rise again, and continued as the Caribbean economies were once more firmly integrated into, and made dependent on the dominant economies of the metropoles. The paper concludes that there are several lessons to be learnt from the agricultural strategy of the war years. The greatest of these lessons is that the problem of the hi(.jh and rising Food IMport Bill is less a Caribbean agricultural and economic problem than it is a political and social one which has to be faced squarely, if the CARICOM Region is to feed itSelf adequately wfth food produced in the Caribbean. 259 "What has happened to us is that economic and social forces are sitting upon our backs and preventing us from developing in vital spheres. Where we have had an opportunity to work freely, there we have shown great distinction. Where we have not shown it, it is because we have been presented."

Issue Date:
Jul 18 1982
Publication Type:
Conference Paper/ Presentation
Record Identifier:
Total Pages:

 Record created 2017-11-13, last modified 2018-01-23

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