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‘Food security and self-sufficiency a vital necessity’

Malachi Symonds, the One Bermuda Alliance candidate for Constituency 15, Pembroke East (Photograph supplied)

Across Bermuda, a call to action is echoing. With more than 90 per cent of all products imported, our island stands at a crossroads, facing a future marred by vulnerability, uncertainty and a constantly increasing cost of living. As concerns about global instability increase, ensuring food security and self-sufficiency is no longer just a goal but a vital necessity for the survival of our island nation.

The world is shifting beneath our feet. Global patterns of conflict and environmental stress have put our supply chains at risk. Farmers worldwide are caught in the crosshairs of governmental red tape. And the planet’s arable land dwindles because of overuse and outdated farming methods. As fertile soils become scarce, the invariable laws of supply and demand paint a grim picture: the cost of living will continue to rise as food availability declines.

In Bermuda, we are not immune to these global pressures. Our dependence on imports has left us in a risky situation, where the ups and downs of global markets control our welfare. It is high time for Bermuda to forge a new path, one that leads to decentralisation of our food and energy industries. It is a path that we must embark upon together.

Our vision for a resilient Bermuda hinges on the adoption of urban-farming practices. The integration of farming into our urban landscapes can transform underutilised spaces into productive agricultural hubs. This shift towards urban farming will not only bolster our food security but also serve as a beacon of innovation and self-reliance.

The foundation of this transformation is community. It is within our neighbourhoods and our shared spaces that we must cultivate a spirit of self-sustainability. Community gardens, shared composting facilities and local biochar production can turn our organic waste into a valuable resource, reducing our reliance on imported fertilisers and enhancing our soil’s fertility.

Moreover, Bermuda must establish a seed-storage bank, safeguarding our agricultural future and that of the Caribbean. A germplasm bank will ensure that we have access to a diverse range of crops, resilient to the changing climate, and capable of thriving in our unique environment.

The blue economy also presents a vast and untapped potential for Bermuda. Our surrounding waters, rich in biodiversity, offer opportunities for sustainable aquaculture and marine-based industries. Responsibly managed, these resources can become a cornerstone of our food security strategy, providing nutritious options that complement our land-based agricultural efforts.

However, food security is but one facet of our island's sustainability. Water and energy issues must also be addressed with urgency. Our water table continuously stands at the risk of contamination. Owing to cesspits that we have used for more than 400 years, our water table is filled with nutrients and bacteria from the leaching waste.

The implementation of biodigestors, whether at the household or neighbourhood level, presents a multifaceted solution. These systems can lessen contamination while simultaneously producing biogas, renewable energy and natural fertiliser, laying the groundwork for an industry centred on renewable resources.

As for energy, Bermuda must champion green alternatives and plan for their entire life cycle. Solar panels, for instance, can provide clean energy for approximately 15 to 20 years, but they also require an end-of-life management plan to prevent them from becoming hazardous waste. Our commitment to renewable energy must include responsible disposal and recycling strategies.

Waste management is yet another critical aspect of our sustainable future. An updated and efficient plan will alleviate the burdens on the Tynes Bay incinerator, reduce the risk of water-table contamination and supplement the energy monopoly, ultimately leading to a healthier Bermuda and a lower cost of living.

To achieve these goals, we must also invest in education, particularly in trades that will support our sustainability efforts. Skills in agriculture, renewable energy technology and waste management will empower our youth and create a workforce poised to meet the challenges of a sustainable future.

Our island’s journey towards sustainability is a collective endeavour. It requires the participation and commitment of every Bermudian, from policymakers to private citizens. Together, we can transform our island, not only ensuring our survival but also setting an example for small island nations worldwide.

This vision for a self-sufficient Bermuda is not a distant dream — it is a tangible reality that we can achieve with determination and collaboration. It is a call for unity in the face of adversity, for innovation amid tradition, and for courage in the pursuit of a sustainable future.

Let us rise to the occasion and pledge to make this vision a reality, not just for the sake of our present comfort but for the legacy we leave for generations of Bermudians to come. The time to act is now. Join me in this noble endeavour, and together, let us chart a course towards a sustainable, self-reliant Bermuda.

Malachi Symonds is the OBA candidate for Constituency 15, Pembroke East

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Published April 26, 2024 at 7:58 am (Updated April 26, 2024 at 8:25 am)

‘Food security and self-sufficiency a vital necessity’

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