I heard on the radio, a little while ago, that the government was offering the public 50 cents a pound for giant African snails as part of their eradication drive… So let me ask you something, would you leave home to harvest snails at 50 cents a pound? Well not I. I know times hard, food is expensive and a recession is on. I know, I feel it too, I’ve been fuelling my body on caffeine and sugar for months, but still I wasn’t picking no fucking snails at 50 cents a pound!
Before you point that accusatory finger telling me it is my pride that does not allow me to pick snails, I want to set the record straight, I have no pride! It is my accounting not my pride that keeps me away from this venture; It is highly unattractive, in order to buy a $10 food I would have to harvest 20lbs of snails. Ridiculous! 50 cents a pound is a joke, surely this is not an attempt to incentivize the eradication of the Giant African Snail.
Don’t get me wrong, I am a devout practising cynic; I know that Caribbean Governments are primarily concerned with speeches (containing polysyllabic words), winning elections and squeezing blood from stone (stone…that would be you and me). Further I have accepted (the way one accepts a Lord and saviour) the collective lack of imagination that pervades all of our institutions, after all nearly 50 years later and all we have managed with the idea of Federation is to change the name to CSME and then to CSM. I don’t expect much but still I find the response (or non response) to the Giant African Snail somewhat confusing.
According to the relevant authorities (and my own reading) the giant African Snail represents a real threat to our agricultural product. Given the global economic down turn and the fact that in Barbados the term “Food Security” is a laughable misnomer, one would expect that this threat be taken seriously. However it seems the impulse is to continue to try to exploit the populace and get something (people to kill the snails) for nothing (50cents a pound).
As I mentioned before I am a practising Cynic so I don’t entertain romantic notions of people spontaneously coming together for the greater good (the truth is the only time I have ever seen that phenomena is in those sickening made for tv xmas specials that are shown over an over every December). I also have no confidence in the intelligence of any group of people numbering more than seven so I do not expect us as a society to see the gravity of the situation and take action. So between our social apathy and goverment's political inertia I guess we are doomed to one day find ourselves having to eat snails to survive
Anyway, I recently started going to a psychiatrist (The experience of being an artist in the Caribbean is actually driving me to suicide) and my psychiatrist suggested to me that I needed to stop griping about problems and offer positive solutions. My initial response to this, of course, was to gripe to my friends that my psychiatrist was an idiot, but I’ve thought about it long and hard and I grudgingly admit that she may be right, so in closing I would like to offer my solution to the Giant African Snail problem.
Firstly in order for any social programme to work it must appeal to that most consistent of human qualities, greed. Think about it every thing on this planet that human beings eat or make money from is either on the verge of extinction or has been domesticated for mass production. And since I am fairly sure that not even the Lord come down from heaven could convince my Bajan Bredren and Sistren to eat snails (yet) we can forget that but if we attached the eradication of the snail to the idea of income (and 50 cents a pound is NOT income) these snails would all be dead in a flash.
So here are my 4 suggestions as to how we can incentivize the eradication of the Giant African Snail.
- The NCF (which only seems to understand culture as festivals) should host the National Snail Art festival competition, in which artist would be challenged to produce art using the shells of the Giant African Snails. The rules could state that no less than 150 snails be used in a piece. The first prize for most innovative use of snails could be $5000 (I’d kill a few snails for 5k) there could also be incentive prizes for the art work using the most snail shells (say $2000)
- The giant snail fashion challenge in which clothing and jewellery designers are challenged to incorporate the snails into their work. Again the prize monies and incentive prizes could be similar to those of the Snail festival.
- The snail kill treasure hunt. Fun for the whole family, as the get to see scenic Barbados and hunt and kill snails at the same time. The grand prize for this could be a trip to France where you could dine in fine restaurants and eat escargot.
- the snail for jail programme in which minor felons could trade jail time for snails say a month in prison could be swapped for 500 snails
Nala (the $2 Philosopher)