According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), countries in Latin America and the Caribbean “must step up” to tackle rising levels of hunger, poverty and inequality. According to the UN agency, between 2019 and 2021, the number of people who went hungry in the region increased by 30 per cent, to 56.5 million.
This situation is present in SVG. Since the ULP regime took office in 2001, we have seen rising levels of hunger, poverty and inequality. Farming used to be a larger sector of our economy, providing food and income for many more households and helping them to avoid hunger and serious poverty.
However, over the past couple of decades, the rural economy has been devastated, agricultural production has declined, and more importantly, agricultural exports have dropped significantly. Households that no longer work in agriculture have seen, at the same time, a loss of income and a loss of source of food. This has plunged them into hunger and poverty.
SVG relies too much on imported foods. Imported foods are expensive and unaffordable to poor households. Imported foods are also a sign of lost income for SVG farmers that grow the same foodstuffs and a factor causing rural poverty and hunger.
Persistent poverty and rising inequalities impact rural populations hardest, said FAO chief Qu Dongyu, especially women, young people and other vulnerable individuals. This is true in SVG. Hunger and financial inequality are more prevalent among women, young people and other vulnerable individuals in SVG. These are problems that the ULP regime should have resolved years ago.
The UN agency chief also urged greater investment in water infrastructure and food production in Central America and the Caribbean, through infrastructure investment in production, storage and transportation.
Offering FAO’s help, Mr. Qu reiterated how important it is for Latin American and Caribbean leaders to tackle inequality “in the most unequal continent in the world”, as they had pledged to do, by 2030 at the latest.
The Leader of SVG Green Party, Vincentian-born retired British Royal Air Force Engineer Warrant Officer Ivan Bertie O’Neal, BSc (Hons), MSc, MBA, believes that there needs to be an urgent focus on rejuvenating the rural economy and boosting agriculture. Better infrastructure and support are needed to lift rural households out of hunger, poverty and being on the wrong side of the inequalities that exist in our country.
According to CAF, the Development Bank of Latin America, inequality in Latin America and the Caribbean is rampant and remains consistently above levels observed in other regions. In the region today, while the richest 10% hold 55% of the income and 77% of all wealth, the poorest 50% earn 10% of the income and hold only 1% of the wealth.
According to the Leader of SVG Green Party, Warrant Officer Ivan Bertie O’Neal, BSc (Hons), MSc, MBA, the stark inequalities that exist in SVG are a damning illustration of the failure in governance and economic strategy of the ULP regime. People have told the Leader of SVG Green Party that they have to go without meals most days, as they cannot afford to feed themselves properly.
Since 2001, the ULP regime has failed to “step up” and tackle hunger, poverty and inequality in SVG.