Horace Amede, President of the Inter-Isle Truckers and Traders Association, on Tuesday, called on Tobagonians to eat what they grow and grow what they eat – borrowing the tagline for the eat local campaign by the Division of Food Production.
Speaking at the First Historic Labour Day march in Tobago, attended by member unions of the National Trade Union Centre of TT (NATUC), Amede recalled the months when there were no vessels on the sea bridge between Tobago and Trinidad, and the problems faced by truckers and traders in getting cargo to the island.
Stating that problems still exist on the sea bridge to this day, though to a lesser extent, he said the experience taught him and members of the Association one important lesson.
“In unity, there is strength, unlike other decision-makers who allowed selfishness and politics to get in the way, and in so doing, they almost destroyed our economy and the livelihoods of so many Trinbagonians,” he said.
Amede said once, Tobagonians were a strong people but “apparently, like they have lost that sense of independence.”
“Now, we are dependent on even goods coming from Trinidad to feed us. When we had vessels like the Scarlet Ibis and the Bird of Paradise, pigeon peas had to remain in Tobago because there were no ships to take those peas to Trinidad, now those peas are coming back from Trinidad to Tobago.
“We are asking Tobagonians, we want you all to come back to where your fathers and forefathers were independent people and not dependent. We are asking you to return to the land… we have some of the most fertile lands,” he said.
He added: “When you look at the animals and all those things, you know it amazes me that Tobagonians are eating kangaroo and all kinds of meat, and on a nightly basis all our good goat and sheep are been sold to Trinidad and we are buying frozen meat.
“It is time for us to start to eat what we grow and grow what we eat. I am calling on all of us in Tobago, we are accustomed to planting around the house… you could have run outside and pull a dasheen, a yam, a potato, a banana and make a pot. Now if the boat doesn’t come, we are in trouble and that is not good enough,” he said.
Stressing that the time for Tobagonians to start growing their own food was now, he recounted a recent experience at the port in Port of Spain.
“On Wednesdays, the vessels don’t usually sail and when I saw the chives, the celery, products that spent the entire day under trampolines at the Port, when they got here in Tobago, they were withered, and I asked myself what are we doing to replace these things?
“It is time for us to get up, do what we need to do and continue to lift Tobago forward. We, the truckers and traders, will continue to do what we can to encourage Tobagonians to do what they can to bring more food and fresh food to Tobago,” he said.
The Labour Day march began at Shaw Park, with participants walking through Scarborough to James Park.