Li ron, li ranpli
Ar manzé, ar fortifian.
Fatra pa konpran.
It’s plump and it’s full
Of goodies for life and land.
Fools don’t understand.
The economic pundits of the past thought that in line with the spirit of free trade, we should export sugar, tea and T-shirts and with our earnings import all we need, including our precious chow (chaw-chaw). Present day neoliberals adhere to this belief and practice. Food security and renewables are elements of left-wing idealism and fantasy. Land is just a commodity to be used to build sumptuous villas for foreign billionaires.
Those whose eyes are not blinded by rupee specs know that global burning and climate crisis mean that food production will be much affected and food security (FS) is an issue of utmost importance. FS is a two-dimentional problem. It concerns availability and nutrition. In Mauritius we depend on two staples: rice and wheat flower. Both are imported. The FAO has warned that global burning and climate crisis will greatly affect rice production. Mauritius will be hard hit. Wheat production will also be dramatically affected. Scientists believe most parts of the world where the crop is grown will be simultaneously hit by water shortages by the end of the century. Looking for locally grown staples is a top priority. Forget Mauritian wheat or rice! There are very good home-grown alternatives: breadfruit, cassava, potato, sweet potato, maize, arrowroot and taro. These not only give us the calories we need but also have medicinal values.
The maritime Republic will have to depend on sea food more than on livestock produce. In that context we will have to replant mangrove forests which have been cleared to make beautiful beaches for the tourist industry which will bear the brunt of the rise in sea level. Mangrove forests are home to a large variety of fish, crab, shrimp, and mollusk species. And they also serve as nurseries for many fish species, including coral reef fish.
Good nutrition is an equally important element of FS. Healthy eating together with regular exercise will help us solve problems of diabetes, blood pressure, overweight and obesity.
GOOD LAND USE
Land is not just a commodity to be disposed of to make money. It is to be considered as a sacred gift to ensure survival. Beside food and shelter, land which is properly used can free us from the chains of fossil fuels. Today we grow cane to make sugar and a by-product, bagasse, is burnt to make electricity. This must be changed through the cultivation of a highly fibrous cane whose main aim is the production of bio-energy and then sugar will become a by-product for local consumption and export if possible.
The use of fossil fuels must be banned and transport must be powered by electricity and muscle power. “Wi, bizen aprann ek kontan pedalé!” Electric public transport for long distances and bicycle ride for short distances will have to become, nilly-willy, our essential transportation and mobility culture. Our roads must be redesigned for these changes and new culture.
THE NEOLIBERAL STAND
The neoliberal tycoons and their political doormats and propagandists will mock and reject the views expressed here. Quite understandable. This new way of life means the end of their power on society and people. BUT it also means the birth of a new civilisation based on solidarity and sharing and not on selfishness and greed. For us, common people, it’s a question of “do or die”. It’s no longer a question of whether we like it or not.
IT’S NOW A QUESTION OF SURVIVAL.