Tomatoes and kites and lime and thyme in Guyana

Tomatoes and kites and lime and thyme in Guyana

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by Vidyaratha Kissoon

“How de change wuking.. you like de change?”.. the woman selling in the market asked me in a harsh tone. She had never talked politics with me before. We talked about mandir and festivals and pandits. Never politics. She never told me anything about business in the market and work.

“I know you voted for the Coalition’ another woman told me . I didn’t vote for the Coalition or anybody for that matter. But it doesn’t matter now.

Almost half way into the period in between elections, and there is a frightening headline in the newspaper“Challenges in the business climate… Guyana currently has no investment projects to offer – Gaskin” .

Frightening because headlines are prominent , many people do not read beyond them, and it seems like the Minister of Business is echoing the sentiments of the women who did not vote for him.

President Granger keeps talking nice things about what people could do and so – and it seems his storytellers think that distributing kites is a means of ensuring that every Guyanese enjoy the good life.

The Ethnic Relations Commission is one of the things in the flawed constitution which is supposed to ensure equal access to all citizens regardless of their ethnic origins. A lot of race talk is bubbling all over but there is no place to resolve any of the claims and counter claims before waiting for 2020. The President and the Prime Minister are not too bothered about the ERC and ensuring it is working.

The story tellers do not realise that equal access is not about charitable giving of kites or patronage, but about systemic policies and procedures which ensures that every citizen enjoys the rights in the flawed constitution.

Making our own kites

Minister Broomes made interesting headlines in Berbice.. not about any gold find their but about asking people to Make their own Kites next year. Kite distribution has become a political tool , used by the Opposition as well.

The kites in some of the pictures do not seem to be Made in Guyana. Who pays for the kites that the politicians distribute? Is Minister Broomes on to something – did they try to source kites Made in Guyana and could not get them?

According to the report , one boy told the Minister he had started to make his own kite. Some Georgetown City Councillors did not give kites, they instead ‘spent time with the children to assemble the kites‘ . This is a different kind of political work – working with the children to make their own.

I remember that I spent a lot of time as a child making the kite, sorting out the decorations, folding the paper and cutting out the shapes. My father probably enjoyed the kite making as much as anything else. Once the kite raised, it was boring after an hour or so.

So in addition to kite making next year, would the Government and other well meaning institutions work with the craftspersons, the shoe makers and the bag makers, to produce the school bags and school shoes and uniforms for the next school year? Instead of just enriching China?

A teacher said she couldn’t believe recently that her first form students were buying their answers to assignments. It might sound like good entrepreneurship – selling answers and scores and so on. The buyers though, easier to buy than to make and then to wait on 2020 and the oil to start flowing.

Is there nothing else for Guyana to get money from?

Sun dried tomatoes

Residents of Paramakatoi are upbeat about an agro-processing project to make sun-dried tomatoes. It is relief to see ordinary people upbeat about something else other than Exxon and oil.

Paramakatoi is in the reportedly beautiful Pakaraima region . There is a project to stimulate agriculture and to benefit from the ‘organic’ branding and using solar drying as a way of preserving.

This week, Stabroek News carried an article about the glut of vegetables on the market. Tomatoes are as low as $40 a pound in some places. Some really nice tomatoes were 20% of the Christmas price.

There are concern about wastage because we have not sorted out an agro-processing industry.

Almost three years ago to the day, Stabroek News carried a similar article.. tomatoes were $40 a pound and there was no agro- processing industry.

The President always talks nicely about agro-processing but like none of his Ministers seem to be bothering with him.

How come there are solar dryers only in Paramakatoi and not on the coast? Do the Government agencies have the costings and so available in the public domain so that persons interested in doing similar ventures in other places could plug those costs into a business plan?

Who does the technology transfer to help stimulate some of the innovation needed to so that we don’t have to rely on Exxon only?

The President repeatedly says he is satisfied with the performance of his Ministers.

Earlier this week, another headline “Government crafts vigorous screening plan to combat mental illness” The story went on to report what Minister Volda Lawrence had to say about mental health.

A couple of people from the lunatic fringe who had protested slap and strip bheri had signed a petition that Minister Lawrence should be removed . Minister Lawrence had supported a colleague who had been accused of raping a child. She did not facilitate any independent resolution of the allegations.

There is something threatening about that headline – about Minister Lawrence and her colleagues deciding who is mad and who is not mad.

GINA carried another story about efforts by the Mental Health Unit to screen for suicide and depression.

The screening instrument is not in the public domain. A man who wanted to work on suicide prevention and building up supporting mechanisms is about to quit Guyana. He feels Guyana is hopeless. “I don’t know what you guys plan to do, I have been through PPP and now this.. nothing is changing” Would Minister Lawrence’s screening deem him mad?

3 different lime”

“Me gah lime, 3 different lime”… “orange nah deh.. $100 for one and dem nah suh sweet”.. the woman who normally walks and sells oranges told me.

Round limes are 6 for a hundred. This is a treat – sometimes they are not available. The juice from the round limes tastes better to me than seedless limes and rampoor limes and long limes. Guyana has about four or five varieties of limes that I have seen.

Guyana might have more to offer than different varieties of limes.

I tried a thing with mixing the lime water with thick leaf thyme and married man pok (basil?) . It was nice and refreshing.

A nice change.

Not like the other one which might or might not have really happened.

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