“Self-Reliance & Sustainable Development” – Food

NB – This continues the ongoing transcription of a 2002 ‘Manifesto for a Democratic Socialist Bermuda’, which I wrote for the purpose of initiating discussion about organising a democratic socialist (DS) Party in Bermuda. I am reproducing it here for it’s historical interest, it’s role in the genesis of this blog itself, and for the purpose of stimulating discussion in the future.

Terrestrial

Bermuda currently possesses very little land used for agriculture, which may produce, at best, perhaps enough food for the entire population for under one month.

An efficient way of greatly enhancing our food production capacity would be to simply encourage greater food production in residential gardens. Pawpaw, banana, citrus, peppers, legumes, onions, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, maize, potatoes, broccoli, mustard greens, kale, spinach, numerous herbs and spices and so on are all currently cultured successfully in our environment. Production levels of these crops could easily be increased through the planting of gardens, balconies, windowsills and various underused land, be it conventional wasteland, unused land zoned for agriculture, or even roundabouts.

Individual neighbourhood gardens (probably concentrating on maize, cassava, sweet potatoes, legumes, onions and tomatoes) could easily be established throughout parishes, which, communally gardened and using communal composting, could further enhance our food production. [While these gardens would ultimately be the responsibility of their respective parishes, they may initially absorb the currently unemployed – and have additional benefits in terms of reduced waste disposal, and in social capital development).

New crops, such as Quinoa, could also be introduced (or others may be developed from existing flora, such as Natal Plum, Palmetto or Baygrape) that may be of greater efficiency than conventional crops, while hydroponic techniques could also be employed to further boost levels of production.

To ensure the greater self-reliance of food production organic methods are to be preferred over chemical pesticides and fertilisers (efficient more in large-scale intensive agriculture than in the small-scale systems envisaged here).

Marine

While fish-stocks are currently still recovering from over-exploitation – largely due to the now illegal fishpots – various aquaculture projects may be initiated.

Primarily these would concern scallops, clams and mussels, but also possible would be lobsters (particularly the slipper lobsters) and various fish species.

Conservation and/or restoration/expansion of mangroves, sea grass and coral reefs may further increase our marine food resources over time due to their vital role in the life-cycles of fish and crustaceans (crabs, shrimps, lobsters).

The possible exploitation of marine algae (sea-weeds), as an additional food resource should also be explored.

Additional Policies

In order to maintain the sustainable exploitation of our domestic food resources, further studies of our natural environment (marine and terrestrial) must be conducted continuously to determine safe rates of exploitation.

Research into alternative foodstuffs (under-utilised food sources and potential new crops) should also be initiated, especially concerning food-oils (olive trees grow well in Bermuda, and, if cared for appropriately, could be a source of olive oil; the potential for palm oil production could also be explored).

Additionally, a ‘fat tax’ on ‘junk-food’ should also be developed, and could be used to subsidise basic foodstuffs, especially starches, pulses, fruit, vegetables, eggs, milk, olive oil and some aspects of beer and wine. This would ensure the basic nutrition of the population, and may even form an integral aspect of the preventative medicine/healthcare approach discussed later.

Increasing domestic food production should also, at least in the pre-socialist stage, reduce the amount of ‘capital leakage’ from Bermuda, especially in the tourism industry, where much of the money spent domestically ‘leaks’ out of Bermuda in order to purchase foreign foods.

The reclamation of waste-land could also have a positive impact on the built environment of neighbourhoods, increase social capital and absorb unemployment to a degree.

The Bermuda Defence Forces/Regiment could prove particularly useful in the initial developmental stage of this policy direction.

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