We continue to celebrate the winners of the essay competition. We also would like to express our sincere gratitude to the team of judges who reviewed all the submitted entries. Our judging panel included 3 persons from a business and economics background and 2 persons from a science and engineering background. Thank you all!
Chelsea E. Dilsuk is currently a medical student of Spartan Health Science University, preparing for her clinical rotations. Chelsea is a proud alumnus of the Sir Arthur Lewis Community College, which she credits for her preparation for a career in medicine. She aspires to be a cardiologist, but has always held a great interest in exploring and composing various literary works.
Her interest in the Sciences as well as her passion for writing, started at the Vieux-Fort Comprehensive Secondary School, where she was enrolled in the Science stream. She is very competitive in nature, an attribute which has propelled her to participate in and win a number of essay and poetry competitions, some of which commenced from the tender age of eleven, while at the Plain Vieux Combined School. Chelsea’s other passions include research, volunteerism, and environmental preservation. Chelsea credits her academic and other achievements to a strong faith in God and invaluable support from her family.
Once again, the age-old conundrum presents itself: How do we create a formula that strikes a balance between improving St. Lucia’s economic circumstances, while expanding our opportunities to raise St. Lucians’ standard of living? Like any strong household, a strong nation must be capable of supporting its people so that their basic needs are met, while providing opportunities for self-sustainability and continuous growth. Let us observe a successful country that has already achieved this:
According to The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), in recent years, China has given priority to its agricultural sector, particularly by way of incentives for farmers. The Washington Post also recognizes China as the world’s largest subsidizer to its farmers, at an estimation of $212 billion annually. Based on my own research, St. Lucia by comparison, offers limited farming subsidies. Consequently, our first step should be to implement easily accessible subsidies for local farmers, to boost food production and achieve food security. This is in keeping with Goal Number Two of the United Nations’ Seventeen Sustainable Development Goals. We also need to encourage consumers to ‘buy/support local’ so that our farmers are continuously supported.
As a tropical island, the possibilities for crop and livestock production are limitless. We can therefore create an abundant supply of fresh fruits, vegetables, and meats, including seafood for both consumption and export. This requires a more strategic approach to sustainable use of our natural resources while implementing climate smart agricultural practices such as efficient rainwater harvesting. Forming alliances with other countries to gain access to different varieties/species of crops and livestock for integrating into our own farming practices, is a must. Naturally, we should develop/optimize our marine resources by enhancing coastal areas for fishing and other related activities. By diversifying our agricultural avenues, we provide more employment and entrepreneurship opportunities for our people, thereby improving our Gross Domestic Product. We should also fill our stores with local organic produce, which is sure to reduce our current $4.5 million food import bill, as well as increase our exports.
Once we can provide an ample variety of wholesome foods for our people, we would undoubtedly be able to improve our nation’s health. Of course, it is imperative that we educate our youth in this regard. For instance, teaching them the art of transforming basic provisions into exquisite dishes, such as using locally produced meats and sweet potatoes to make beef rotis, as demonstrated in this home video: https://youtu.be/ilDHD3a1_5Q
With a significantly reduced food import bill, we can then focus on improving other areas, such as Agro-processing for both local consumption and export. This allows more job opportunities for our citizens. The Tourism product (our main foreign exchange earner) could also be enhanced by including agrotourism, medical tourism, and ecotourism, to name a few.
An essential part of improving our economic situation is amplifying our educational development. Existing prestigious schools in St. Lucia, like the Sir Arthur Lewis Community College (SALCC), can be upgraded to a university, which offers a wider pool of technologically incorporated programmes. This will increase access to higher education and skills training, thereby strengthening our human resource capacity! This would expose our people to a wider range of careers. We can even forge alliances with other countries to create a global network for our youth and those of other countries, to access different programmes and acquire a variety of skills. Families could enjoy better quality lives, since students would be able to access higher education right here, at home.
As our premier tertiary institution, the SALCC could hold a biannual exposition, where persons in secondary school are able to get an insight into what certain specialties involve. Of course, in the current COVID-19 context, a virtual platform could be utilised. The SALCC could liaise with the various Ministries as well as the private sector, to fuel this initiative and its slogan could be “For St. Lucians, by St. Lucians”. This project could be held during Creole Heritage month and on Independence Day, in a different community each time, to create equal access for all. This initiative could also help strengthen our existing National Apprenticeship Programme.
By building a self-sustainable, healthy, educated, variably skilled and therefore, empowered nation, there would be no need to rely so heavily on other nations for support. Our crime rate may even be reduced if our citizens are able to pursue sustainable careers or hobbies that ignite their passions. If we stick to this blueprint, we could lower our import bill and healthcare expenses, increase our exports, as well as our career, employment, and entrepreneurship opportunities. In this regard, St. Lucia could become a further developed country and be a perfect example for other Small Island Developing States to emulate.
- World Bank; CIAT; CATIE. 2014. CSA Country Profiles for Latin America Series. Washington D.C.: The World Bank Group.
Zidane’s 3rd place essay can be read here. Please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org with any suggested topics for future articles or if you would like to help write or edit our blogposts. Like or Follow our Facebook Page or at Medium or Twitter or YouTube.