From Talk to action – Part II
Freedom Speaks Column
In last week's article we noted that the Dominica Freedom Party will do everything it can (not just talk) while not in office to organize our people and lead them into prosperity and to be independent. We will do the usual politics as well, but we can't just wait while our country goes down the drain! We must begin to take action where we can!
But where do we start to govern even if we are not in government? On that question, we said that we will start with agri-business in the context of the big idea – Dominica the Nature Island of the World. We also noted that agriculture-tourism can also be a game changer. Let us explain a bit what the "big idea" is all about and what we mean by agriculture-tourism.
The big idea entails differentiating Dominica on the global stage based on the island's naturalness. It therefore requires preserving and sustainably utilizing our natural environment. It entails utilizing our rich and rare gift – the Nature Island, as a major basis for generating wealth and economic growth. This approach would be more sustainable when we align the way we live with the differentiation we want to achieve. This would include growing and consuming wholesome foods that contribute to our health and wellness and living in harmony with nature by avoiding polluting the natural environment through our various activities. The benefits of our harmony with nature must be increasingly supported by the proof, to include longevity (long life expectancy). The big idea also entails pursuing shared growth so that all citizens and residents are deeply invested in making Dominica the Nature Island of the World. Our naturalness as a basis for generating wealth and economic growth would most logically be initiated through our agriculture, related agri-business and sustainable tourism.
But there is also a close link that can be pursued between agriculture and tourism, through agriculture tourism. By agriculture tourism we mean the direct entertainment or/and accommodation of guests on agricultural holdings. For instance, a farmer with five acres of land could establish two accommodation units on his holdings for use by guests/tourists. Ideally, the farmer with his family should reside on the farm. At the same time, the holding would be cultivated and the produce could be sold on fresh produce markets or to agro-processors, while some production can be targeted for the use of the on-farm guests. Pursuing this type of dual activity on the farm holding can result in multiple streams of income and thus it will enhance the viability of the farm holding. The cultivation of the farm holding must be coupled with attractive landscaping. Moreover, the farmer must practice organic agriculture as it would not be safe to entertain guests in a farm environment that uses chemical fertilizers and pesticides.
Such agriculture tourism should be developed to be totally consistent with the "big idea" utilizing sustainable farming practices, tapping renewable energy, empowering local people, paying attention to density considerations and engaging in other sustainable practices. Given typical farm sizes, it would be expected that the marketing of such agriculture tourism will be pooled possibly among groups of 20 to 40 farmers. The Dominica Freedom Party wants to engage farmers in pursuing such agriculture-tourism. The initiation of such a segment of the tourism industry would stand an even better chance of success if the farm holdings are in close proximity to an existing tourism attraction such as a river with swimming potential, a beach or a hiking trail. Farmers along the Waitukubuli National Trail who are interested in such activity could register their interest with the Dominica Freedom Party. One of our initial actions will be the establishment of a pilot project along that trail that would serve as an inspiration for other agriculture-tourism projects on the island.
While farming has regressed in Dominica over the last two decades and more owing to the initial decline of the once mighty banana industry, but also due to the lack of good government stewardship, the Dominica Freedom Party wants our farmers to remain hopeful. We are determined to begin taking action that is within our remit to work with you even though we are not in office. We are hopeful that the government will work with us on some of the initiatives, but largely, we are going to take action that doesn't necessarily require their direct involvement. We are determined to start the process of leading the nation into prosperity. But for you, the farmers, to benefit, you must hold on to your land – don't sell it. This is the first principle – land is precious. As we pursue the big idea, land will be a major determinant of your prosperity. We will expound on that principle next week.
Kent Vital Political Leader Dominica Freedom Party