Dawood Auleear

A few days ago our Foreign Affairs Minister suggested that we stop exporting our tuna, just in case we are no longer able to import our basic foodstuff from those countries we usually get it from as a result of lockdowns in those countries, because their production would have been affected and they would not be able to export to us… I think we should heed what the minister said as he had advised shutting our borders to foreign visitors well before we thought that coronavirus would reach our shores. We should remember that we were trying to attract tourists in larger numbers at the time.

We need to understand that in most industrialised countries most non-food-producing factories have been closed down, except those producing equipment that would be useful in the battle against coronavirus and therefore exports from those countries would be limited or will cease altogether. It is in these times that we need to be creative and innovate. People of my parents’ generation did tell us that during the Second World War, the German navy as well as the Japanese navy were threatening supplies to our island. Self-sufficiency became a necessity; people increased the plantation of maize and manioc, and today we can add rice and wheat. I remember my parents cooking manioc or maize “rice” with curry of fish which was abundant in our lagoons.

So, the government should ask importers to get stock for the next 9 months and ask our planters to grow manioc which would take about 9 months to be ready for harvesting. We have enough agricultural land and we can use modern agricultural methods. We have nothing to lose, but if things do not work out too well, at least we will have lots of ‘poudinn may’ or ‘gato manioc’ for snacks! But seriously we need to prioritise ‘FOOD SECURITY’ on the agenda.