For many years Grenada has suffered from very high rates of unemployment, which is unfortunately highest among our youth population.
Recent statistics revealed that Grenada has the highest unemployment rate in the English-speaking Caribbean, something that should raise serious concern.
We can all agree that no one deliberately sets out to increase unemployment. However, decisions on the part of policymakers or the lack therefore has a positive relationship with the rate of unemployment.
No one administration can be held responsible for this; however, the prolonged high rates of unemployment facing Grenada should not be treated lightly or create any form of comfort. In fact, this should be a front burner issue addressed by every segment and organisation in our country: political parties, NGOs, Churches, CBMOs, the private sector, etc.
Frankly, our population is tired of the lip service that has been given to this issue and the political play that is made of this issue, especially during general elections. If half the talk about treating with unemployment spurred into appropriation action, Grenada may have been in a much better position.
My perspective on the matter is that we need to begin with taking a serious look at our economy and the areas we have identified as priorities. Naturally, if efforts are being placed in the wrong places, there will be no real benefits.
One must consider what sectors have the biggest potential for growth and in which areas Grenada can develop sustainable competitive advantage.
For years, the people have been literally shouting one of the most obvious answers: AGRICULTURE! Clearly, agriculture alone won’t do it but without doubt it poses the greatest opportunity for real and speedy growth, which can totally take care of a large part of our unemployment situation.
Grenada’s monopoly on the export of fresh Soursop to the US market, our potential for value added products from our nutmegs and cocoa, production of meats for our local market, opportunities for exportation of non-traditional produce and agro-processing, undoubtedly present the best opportunity to address the unemployment situation.
Unfortunately, there appears to be a lack of political will or lack of a plan as to how to exploit these opportunities.
The absence of actions in this area is not without consequence and very significant consequences at that: many stuck in the downward spiral of poverty and hopelessness, and a “state dependency syndrome”.
Our youth is ready to return to agriculture using modern approaches.
The question remains: Are there opportunities, supporting systems, resources and the political will to facilitate our readiness?
It’s time for action!