(Published as Chapter 7 in "Rural Development in the Caribbean", Ed. P.I.Gomes, UWI Trinidad, C.Hurst & Co., London, Fall 1985. 30 page summary of M.A. thesis, Carleton University, Ottawa, 1983)

The author, Bob Thomson, is an Ottawa-based researcher who has acted as a consultant, resource and staff person for Canadian non-governmental organizations on development projects and management. He was the Eastern Caribbean field representative of CUSO from 1976 to 1979. His M.A. Thesis, "The Potential and Limits of Agricultural Self-Reliance in Grenada", School of International Affairs, Carleton University, Ottawa, 1983, pp.246, provides an elaboration of the major themes discussed here. He is currently "retired" and manages a blog on what a post growth world might look like.

An Alternative Model
The Evolution of Class Forces in Grenada
Food Consumption and Nutritional Needs in Grenada
The Structure of Food Consumption in Grenada
Agricultural Resources in Grenada
The Potential for Import Substitution


This study looked at alternatives to agricultural production in Grenada based on Clive Thomas' book Dependence and Transformation and the convergence of local resources and local production, as well as local "demand" versus local needs. It reviewed the history of land distribution as well as income and class differences in Grenada, their impact on a colonial cultural and political narrative, and the changes required for both agricultural and potential revolutionary transformation of food production and consumption in Grenada. The study concluded that distortion of food demand by imported Western consumer expectations, advertising, corporate control of distribution and food processing technology resulted in much higher costs if island food self-reliance was to be achieved. It examined physical needs in terms of food energy and protein, based on CFNI recommendations, and assumed a reduction of imported meat and wheat and an increased diet of local foods. It found that 70% more cropland and 80% more agricultural labour would be required to achieve local food self reliance in order to meet a national demand based on externally influenced middle class consumption preferences, versus prevailing low income diets, which nevertheless met nutritional needs as well as broad popular tastes.


The inability of dependent capitalist development in the Caribbean to meet the needs of the majority of the population has resulted in considerable interest in alternative development models. Further impetus to this interest was sparked by the March 13, 1979 overthrow of the Gairy regime in Grenada and the subsequent four and a half years of New Jewel Movement (NJM) attempts to undertake a socialist transformation of the island society. Despite its regretable collapse, the "experiment" of the Grenada Revolution provided a unique opportunity to examine both the theory and practice of development and to discover both the potential and the limits of alternative models in the modern Caribbean and indeed the entire Third World.

This article begins with an examination of an alternative "model" and the implications of the works of such authors as C.Y. Thomas of Guyana and Samir Amin of Senegal, who advocate economic and social reorganization towards self-reliant (although not necessarily self-sufficient or autarkic) development, based on a dynamic of domestic production for basic needs or mass consumption, rather than the standard models of export led growth or import substitution. (Thomas,1974;Amin,1977) In particular, I have looked at food consumption and production in Grenada within the framework of Thomas' "two iron laws of convergence", and will argue that any progress towards self-reliant development must focus upon the interdependent linkages which exist between the structures of: 1) class; 2) food consumption and nutritional needs; and 3) agricultural resources for food production.

An analysis of the failure of dependent capitalist development in the Caribbean is beyond the scope of this brief article, but is crucial to an understanding of the importance of alternatives. Studies of Caribbean social formations by many authors such as Eric Williams, Arthur Lewis, William Demas, Lloyd Best, George Beckford, Norman Girvan and Clive Thomas, to mention but a few, have amply documented the processes whereby the Region is deprived of the fruits of its peoples' labours through the domination of production for export.

However, the study of flows of surplus and interaction between classes within a given social formation is frequently secondary to an analysis of the flows of surplus between different social formations. The very nature of social formations requires the study of both internal and external relations, and in particular, the impact of external factors on internal structures. All social formations are based on a social division of labour which has evolved over centuries, beginning with simple hunting and gathering societies with little specialization, and evolving into complex modern social systems in which economic surplus is generated, circulated and disposed of through complex networks of institutions, political power, culture, ideology and class structures. (Mansour,1979:199)

In the Caribbean, studies of the enormous drain of surplus from the region through the mechanisms of slavery and transnational corporations exist in abundance, while thorough reviews of the internal structures which inhibit development tend to be limited to simple descriptions of backwardness, often blamed on external or historical factors over which little control can be exercised.

The importance of internal factors has nowhere been more evident than in the reaction of the population of Grenada to the murder of Maurice Bishop and his colleagues and the subsequent U.S. invasion of the island. The failure of Bernard Coard and his colleagues in that faction of the NJM to give sufficient import to the internal class forces and awareness which mitigated against acceptance of their centralist strategy is ample evidence of the failure of much traditional socialist and Marxist theory to recognize the importance of internal forces in deference to the rhetoric of anti-imperialism, however logical or appealing the latter might seem.

This failure brings home the necessity of the search for alternative models of development for the region. The search for an alternative model begins with the failure of dependent, peripheral capitalism, dependency theory, orthodox Marxism and the Marxist theory of the Non-Capitalist Path to completely or even adequately explain, or resolve, the social and economic crises facing the Caribbean and Grenada today.

The failure of dependent, peripheral capitalism centres on the inability of the Grenadian bourgeoisie and petty-bourgeoisie to retain sufficient surplus from an internationally dominated export oriented economy and thus accumulate enough capital to finance local capitalist growth. The weakness of dependency theory as a response to this, lies in its neglect of the full complexity of class relations which put limits on economic nationalism, one of the principal recommendations of dependency theory. This evasion of the full implications of class obscurs the analysis of surplus flows and accumulation and the importance of classes in the ebb and flow of history. Dependency prescriptions thus have tended to be economistic and have failed to integrate social, political and ideological factors. (Leys,1977:94)

The orthodox Marxist model relies on a stage of capitalist development to consolidate scattered private property, increase efficiency and develop the means of production through accumulation. But this did not happen naturally in Grenada. Therefore the orthodox Marxist approach falls into the same trap as neo-classical theory. It does not account for the unevenness of the spread of capitalism and it provides no guide for progressive change in dependent peripheral economies. The theory of the Non-Capitalist Path has argued that a patriotic, nationalist bourgeoisie can be convinced to co-operate in the development of local forces of production. While this is happening, socialist awareness is being prepared for the next stage of full socialism, when these co-operative classes will be dispossessed. This theory has also assumed that the level and nature of assistance from the socialist world would be adequate to bypass the stage of capitalist accumulation. This assumption is tenuous as best given the geopolitical realities of the Caribbean and the considerable differences between the needs of small agricultural economies such as Grenada's and the heavy industry and technological infrastructure of the Soviet and East European economies.


As an alternative to the organization of production primarily for export, Thomas and Amin have proposed an auto-centred, self- reliant development model which is well summarized by Mansour:

The results would be to reorient agriculture from producing raw materials for the world market to the production of foodstuffs and needed local industrial inputs on the one hand, and to raise productive efficiency on the other hand. Industry in its turn would be required to produce basic consumption goods, in particular those needed to raise agricultural efficiency. Certain proportions and balance have to be maintained between respective rates of growth of industry and agriculture and of the capital goods sectors. In highly developed capitalist countries, the market mechanism can be relied on to introduce such marginal structural changes as are called for, though of course not without its particular type of crisis and penalties. In Third World countries, where fundamental structural changes are indispensable, no such role can be expected from the market mechanism. Central planning is required, not only to initiate and carry out these changes in a balanced way, but to initiate and carry them out at all. (Mansour,1979:232)
The comprehensive planning required by such a model is by no means simple. The control and/or co-ordination of capital, labour, raw materials and other inputs are subject to many influences which are specific to the historical context and conjuncture of each society.

Thus there are no a priori formulas by which decisions can be made. Yet decisions must be made about optimal rates of accumulation or investment versus consumption, about the opportunity costs of different projects, about the allocation of scarce foreign exchange, about technologies appropriate to the particular mix of resources and industrial strategy chosen in the model and many other decisions.

In addition to such econometric decisions, political mechanisms must be developed which ensure a process of democratic participation in the determination of acceptable social costs of transformation. The willingness of the community to absorb the social costs of transformation and to increase accumulation for future growth is dependent on their participation in planning and all other aspect of government and social life. (Thomas,1974:132) Although there may be substantial sources of extra surplus available once external drains are plugged or at least slowed, the remediation of low levels of consumption, nutrition, health and productivity resulting from decades or even centuries of neglect are certain to place a fetter on technically optimum rates of accumulation for further growth and structural transformation. Without an appropriate democratic political structure to mediate disputes over the allocation of resources, political and social conflict will seriously undermine the process of transformation.

Planning under such a model cannot be based on existing demand or profit oriented cost benefit criteria without merely reproducing existing price and income distribution patterns. (Amin,1977:16) The simple projection of existing demand only serves to duplicate resource allocations which support existing unequal patterns of consumption, even if the forms of exchange and consumption change. (Thomas,1974:20) Thomas argues that demand has been considerably distorted by unequal income distribution, imported tastes and a myriad of colonial, neo-colonial and other dependency relations which affect the choice of products consumed in both their quantity, quality and characteristics. (Thomas,1974:59) The data on food consumption presented later in this article provide clear evidence of this divergence between demand and the nutritional needs of the majority of the population.

The model does not advocate complete isolation from international markets however, in order to reduce or eliminate external diversion of surplus. Amin notes that an imposed autarky, if too drastic or total, could hamper self-reliance by involving excessive costs. He does not argue against any theory of comparative advantage, but points out that the unequal international division of labour invalidates the basic assumptions of such theories. (Amin,1977:18) The need for foreign exchange and trade in a small society such as Grenada is obvious, but cannot be so easily conceded that the planning of its allocation is secondary or even ignored.

Thomas notes that each project requiring foreign exchange must generate more foreign earnings during its lifetime than the capital and operational inputs necessary for its implimentation. Import substitution must be evaluated on the basis of a reduction of imports greater than the foreign exchange investment required to replace them. (Thomas,1974:244) There are certain to be problems of cash flow, especially at the beginning of any process of transition. However, the judicious allocation of export earnings and aid and the sequencing of investment can be incorporated into the planning process to deal with these problems. (Thomas,1974:246) The critical role of foreign exchange makes it a potential obstacle, subject as it is to geo-political influence, and may well be one of the major limiting factors in the application of the model.

A central factor in the creation of internal resource/consumption linkages is technology. The importation of technology and capital goods from either market or centrally planned industrialized economies determines the mix of inputs used in local industry. As noted above, technology developed for these markets reflects vastly different resource constraints, input availability and costs, and problems of development of productive forces which are of an entirely different order from the conditions found in the Third World. (Thomas,1974:27)

Appropriate technological models cannot be imported ready made nor necessarily found in the history of the industrialized centres, as the theme of intermediate technology sometimes suggests. (Amin,1977:17)

Industrialization in the centre was based on a revolution in agriculture in seventeenth century Europe, whereas industrialization in the Third World must enable an agricultural revolution to take place in the twentieth century. Thus technological creativity and adaptability are the issues, and not just technology transfer. (Amin,1977:17) The problems created by the transfer of inappropriate technology and the difficulties of avoiding such problems in Grenada's food industry are discussed later in this article.

The development of Third World technological creativity and adaptability can be misinterpreted to require an indigenous research and development capacity far beyond the human and financial resources of most small nations. This is partly due to the sophistication of modern high technology and the mystification of it encouraged by transnational corporations in order to preserve patents and oligopolistic markets. However, the interdisciplinary structure of modern industrial production has resulted in the open publication of much basic scientific and technological research in North America and Europe, making technical information accessible to anyone with basic technical literacy and sufficient funds to subscribe to the thousands of specialist and popular journals.

Further, when colonial and neo-colonial assumptions about limited local capacity to master the environment in peripheral social formations have been subjected to a healthy scepticism, it has been discovered that the range of critically minimum levels of production are often much lower than optimum levels. (Thomas,1974:305) The myths about economies of scale must rank near the top of any list of obstacles to development in small economies. Thomas argues that the test of feasibility with respect to self-reliance must consider whether the volume of output required for local consumption can be attained and whether the opportunity costs of such production are not excessive. Feasibility cannot be limited to a determination of whether the optimum level of output can be attained. Since the relative opportunity costs of self-reliant production are frequently overestimated as a result of neo-colonial assumptions, further research on technological alternatives is often not pursued. Thus opportunities are bypassed which could generate local production at only a slightly higher cost, but which would expand internal demand and generate other external economies in other related industries. The importance of central planning should be obvious here, since individual industrial or corporate plans may not recognize such external economies.

In an important paper on economic factors favouring small-scale, decentralized, labour-intensive manufacturing, Vail cites a number of studies which show how unit production costs in some sectors (for example: small castings, machine tools, footwear, cement, diesel motors, and more) increase by only two to nine percent in plants with half of the optimum capacity. (Vail,1975:23; Silberston,1972:369) He goes on to argue that, since these studies were done on British industry which has evolved in response to factor prices quite different from those prevailing in the Third World, smaller scale technologies might even be superior with relatively cheaper labour and more expensive capital. Other studies show that the "elasticity of substitution" between labour and capital in several manufacturing sectors is such that a range of technologies and (by inference) plant scales can be used efficiently. (Pack,1974:394)

As an example of both the distortion of technology and the unrealized potential of the Caribbean sugar industry, Thomas' study, "The Threat and the Promise: An Assessment of the Impact of Technological Development in the High Fructose Corn Syrup and Sucro-Chemical Industries", shows how it is theoretically possible to greatly increase the manufactured content of a traditional crop, even to the point where sugar could provide an alternative to petroleum as a chemical feedstock. (Thomas,1982) Farrell has argued that adequate intelligence on biotechnology might permit the Caribbean to take advantage of its traditional sugar production and, by increasing the manufactured content of its exports in carefully chosen market niches, could perhaps even reverse historically negative terms of trade. (Farrell,1982:14) Both authors point out however, that constraints on skilled human resources, inflexibility of the forces of production, lack of capital or access to capital, inadequate information systems concerning technology and external markets and the absence of external economies of scale all make the achievement of such advances exceedingly difficult.

Technological difficulties are not only the product of transnational domination of world production and markets. For example, criticism can be raised of Grenada's acceptance of Cuban housing technology under the NJM since it is based on the use of imported concrete rather than local lumber as a basic material. Cuban cement is cheap and used throughout the Caribbean by governments of all political stripes because of its price. It is cheap however, because, as an energy intensive industry, it relys on oil supplies from the Soviet Union at less than world prices, a benefit which cannot be applied to Grenada's forest industry. The uncritical use of Soviet or any other foreign technology risks the selection of equipment and techniques which can divert factors of production away from local resources. This can have similar negative effects on the dependency and external orientation of the society in transformation to those caused by transnational monopolies, even though not related to "imperialistic exploitation." The selection of this model, with its complex planning requirements and its vulnerability to political sensitivities on both internal and geo-political fronts, risks being labeled as utopian. However, any less comprehensive approach to the problems of development in peripheral, dependent societies has been proven ineffective in the past several decades of experience in world development. We now go on to examine the structures of class, food consumption and agricultural resources which play a crucial role in the implementation of an alternative model.


The Grenada Revolution began in 1979 as a response to the repressive government of Eric Gairy, an ex-school teacher who rode to political power on his success as an organizer of farm workers in the early 1950's, and then used that power to further his own personal wealth and egotistical aspirations at the expense of the very workers he had led against the excesses of plantation agriculture. The poverty and political backwardness of Grenada under Gairy had roots in more than just the manipulation of one man however. They are also the legacy of centuries of slavery and colonialism, and an economy and society organized around the production of food which Grenadians did not consume, in exchange for imported food and goods which they did not produce.

Grenada's economic history can be divided into three general periods: slavery (1600-1838), the "free" labour era (1838-1940) and the modern era (1940-1979). These three periods have been marked by the development of increasingly complex dependency relations in Grenada's links to the world capitalist economy. Foster-Carter has described this process well in reference to Jamaica, although his comments apply equally well to the colonial history of the entire region:

The slaves' former subsistence production showed considerable resilience, eventuating into a peasant mode of production in a highly contradictory articulation....with a capitalism itself enmeshed in contradictions: structurally dependent on foreign monopoly capital, and first striving to 'break' the peasant mode in order to be assured of labour supplies, then incapable of developing enough to make use of that labour once it did begin to present itself (in torrents; ultimately diverted into emigration). (Foster-Carter,1978:234)

The external orientation of Grenada's economy features highly unequal terms of trade which amassed large fortunes for a few and left very little in the way of resources and capital to be invested in improved consumption and services for the people who produced this wealth. The plantation system of colonial agriculture, utilizing slave labour, was so profitable that it was cheaper to import food for the slaves than to devote even a few acres to local food production. The exodus of peasants to the cities and factories of Europe as the Industrial Revolution advanced created such a demand for cheap food energy that sugar was called "green gold". ŒThe development of Grenada's economy has been dominated by its interaction with the changing capitalist world economy over a period of three centuries, during which substantial surpluses have been transferred out of Grenada. Indeed, Wallerstein, Amin and Williams, regard the Caribbean as an important element in the initial accumulation of capital in Europe and the world. (Wallerstein,1980; Amin,1982; Williams,1944) The initial development of Grenada to provide raw materials and capital for European, particularly British, industrialization has influenced (and still affects) current development and places serious obstacles in the path of a self-reliant development strategy today.

As internal European markets developed and the vast fertile lands of Brazil and Cuba provided cheaper sugar, Britain's Caribbean colonies lost their competitive edge in sugar production. The demand for cheaper raw materials created modernizing forces which required that slaves be replaced with more efficient machinery. Centuries of slavery had left deeply ingrained social structures however, and the plantocracy resisted their displacement in the economy by the growing industrial capitalists. Through their control of politics, the landed aristocracy in Britain aided the plantocracy in the colonies in this resistance. Using the colonial state, they succeeded in restricting access to land, credit, technology and markets for the slaves who had been freed by the economic logic of the industrial revolution.

In Grenada, where the rugged terrain had made sugar even less profitable, it was replaced by cocoa and nutmeg in the late nineteenth century. These were export crops more suited to smaller estates and required less capital from the owners who had been indebted by the competition with larger, capital intensive operations in the larger territories and colonies. This allowed small holders to gain a bit of a foothold and to partially reduce their dependency on the plantocracy. However, the emancipated slaves were only given sufficient land to grow a portion of their subsistence requirements. This had the effect of lowering wages and reducing the planters food import bills, yet kept labour tied to part-time estate work.

The legacy of this system is an economy wherein a substantial proportion of the dependent "peasantry" is forced to sell some of its labour to the estates, while also having to rely on subsistence farming, jobs in tourism or service sectors, remittances from relatives abroad, barter, migrant labour, cash crops, petty commerce, mutual aid societies and a host of other mechanisms, in a complex network of multiple dependencies and defense mechanisms.

The subservience of Grenada's economy to export markets resulted in a lack of linkages between local production and consumption. In that now classic phrase, Grenada produces what it does not consume, and consumes what it does not produce. This dependency leads to drain on the economy through unequal terms of trade, under which the prices of manufactured imports historically rise faster than the prices of commodity exports. Unless export production can grow faster than the increased prices of imports, and/or become more efficient, there is a drain on the economy. Grenada's small size makes increased production difficult and the historical drain of surplus from the economy has left insufficient capital for investment in increased efficiency.

The long term drain on the economy had an important impact on Grenada's social structure. The collapse of sugar on the smaller islands such as Grenada reduced the ability of the plantocracy to accumulate capital and thus the wealth necessary to dominate the society. The dependent peasantry and the urban middle classes were similarly limited in their access to an independent economic base. The balance of class forces in Grenadian society was therefore fragile, and tended to favour whichever group was able to control the State, the only mechanism sufficiently powerful to allow control by one class or another.

The lack of an independent economic base for any one class which would permit it to accumulate sufficient surplus to dominate the society is a major feature of peripheral and dependent capitalist societies today. (1) One result is the creation of delicate class alliances and balances which frequently change as competing sectors of the politically dominant petty-bourgeoisie vie for control of the society, primarily through control of the state, often through the armed forces or police.

Flows of surplus are based, not only on economic relations such as the ownership of capital, but also on a broad social and political consensus (which includes cultural factors) that forms the basis for an acceptance of and sometimes resignation towards the role each class plays in generating and sharing the overall surplus. Changing alliances, both within the petty-bourgeoisie, and with external actors, provoke many of the coups and counter-coups so prevalent in the Third World today.

In addition to the economic, technological and infrastructural legacies of colonialism, which are discussed below in an analysis of food consumption and agricultural resources in Grenada, the fragmentation of class structures, forces and balances plays an important role in obstructing development today. This fragmentation continues today, and forms the basis for a political framework which limits consensus and generates more confusion than agreement on national development strategies.

Since control of the State depends upon both political and economic factors, the granting of universal adult sufferage in Grenada in 1950 under pressure from anticolonial forces led to a political shift in balance from the plantocracy to the urban middle classes between 1951 and 1979. In 1950 Eric Gairy formed a trade union to address the grievances of agricultural workers who were losing their semi-feudal tenancy "rights" as capitalist relations of production and wage labour were forced on the plantocracy by the colonial authorities in the name of modernizing production. Following a successful general strike for wage increases of over 50%, Gairy vaulted to political power and was able to develop a political and economic base for himself using the power of the State. Monopoly import privileges, tax breaks, government contracts, patronage, land expropriation and other legal and illegal incentives allowed him to control the expanding urban sectors of construction, tourism and small manufacturing.

Gairy also broke the economic base of the plantocracy once and for all through the expropriation or outright seizure of estates. Agricultural production fell by half (by volume) from 1970 to 1974 as a result of Gairy's land "reform" programme, which not only removed land from production to be distributed as patronage in tiny uneconomical plots, but also reduced investment and maintenance expenditures and thus productivity on those lands not actually seized but threatened by the atmosphere of intimidation. (World Bank,1982:15; Cumberbatch,1977:12) Between 1961 and 1981, 43% of cultivated land, or 10,382 hectares, was taken out of production. Of the 13,697 hectares farmed in 1981, approximately one third were not cultivated.

Gairy's resort to repression to reinforce his hold on the State eventually alienated the other substantial sector of Grenada's middle class organized around the Grenada National Party of Herbert Blaize (GNP). Not only did his actions reduce their own profits, but his repression also threatened the whole basis of Grenada's capitalist economy by provoking widespread unrest. The GNP allied itself in the 1976 elections with the New Jewel Movement (NJM), a grouping of left-leaning populist intellectuals with considerable support amongst Grenada's youth (some 50% of the population) and sectors of the working class and peasantry. Winning six of the 15 seats in Parliament despite massive rigging by Gairy, this People's Alliance became the Official Opposition in Parliament, with Maurice Bishop as its leader.

Grenada's Westminister style Parliament however, like many Caribbean Parliaments, was dominated by excessively concentrated executive power. Meeting infrequently and never allowed more than cursory debate of legislation and budgets, Parliament had little capacity to criticize or even monitor Gairy's depredations. This political vacuum, Gairy's repression and the fragmentation of political and economic forces facilitated the takeover of the State by the NJM on March 13, 1979. Once in control, the NJM's domination of the State overshadowed the weak, divided economic and political bases of Gairy, the GNP and the plantocracy. As we have seen however, realignments in internal forces, even within the NJM, are capable of producing spectacular changes in the balance of class forces in a small society like Grenada, with political implications which go well beyond minor adjustments.

It is evident that the development of classes in Grenada has been fragmented and uneven, with the result that cultural, ideological and structural obstacles endure which resist the reorganization of the Grenadian social formation. The importance of this class analysis lies in its identification of the particular relations of production which underlie the generation of economic surplus in Grenada. Without an understanding of the basis for these flows of surplus, it would be difficult to redirect them along the lines advocated by the alternative model of development outlined above.

The particular blend of economic and social factors which influence food consumption and agricultural production is the subject of the remainder of this article. The complex inter- relationships between class, food consumption and agricultural resources discussed below have a profound impact on development strategies under an alternative model, or for that matter, under the traditional model prevalent in the Caribbean today.


A study of food consumption in Grenada at the national level and in the village of La Poterie, a small poor rural area shows a marked difference between the demand for food and actual nutritional needs. Here I will argue that expenditures on imported foods and a demand structure which is heavily influenced by higher income consumption and tastes tends to divert resources from the supply of basic foods which meet the nutritional needs of as many people as possible at the least possible cost. This is the essence of Thomas' second "iron law of convergence", the necessity of matching local demand with the objective needs of the majority of the population. If demand is distorted to include goods which cannot be easily produced locally, then the convergence of demand with local production will be that much more difficult.

The data outlined below in Tables 1 and 3 shows that Grenada imports some 76% of its food energy and protein consumption, with the result that food is a commodity very much subject to the influences of international markets. As with all commodities, food is allocated largely on the basis of purchasing power, and in the context of widespread poverty and unemployment, services the needs of the relatively better off classes and groups. (Thomas,1982:3)

The current structure of food consumption is heavily influenced by two factors: 1) unequal income distribution and 2) Western consumer technology (for example, packaging, processing and marketing). These factors operate in such a way as to create or maintain demand for end products which can be linked to local resources and production only with great difficulty, thus obstructing self-reliant food production.

A detailed analysis of national food consumption in Grenada, when compared with a nutrition survey carried out in La Poterie, a poor rural village in St. Andrews Parish, shows that consumption of meat and imported foods is much lower among rural low income groups than it is for the national averages. (See Table 3 below) From this discrepancy, it would appear that a small, mainly urban, high income group has a disproportionate impact on national food consumption as a result of its higher purchasing power. (See Table 2 below for an outline of income distribution in Grenada) The La Poterie Nutrition Survey of 1972 was chosen for comparison with national statistics for two reasons. One, as a rural area, La Poterie is more representative of the income and consumption patterns of the rural majority in Grenada. Two, it is the ONLY detailed study of income and food consumption available for a lower income group. ŒWestern consumer technology is introduced by trans- national corporations which dominate the international market, distort conditions in favour of their own markets and profits, and engage in large scale demand creation through advertising and other consumer technologies such as packaging and "convenience" food processing unrelated to nutritional requirements. (2) These factors influence Grenadian demand for food, not only through the dominance of imported foods in local diets, but also via the media, the tourist industry and contacts with Grenadians living abroad in the United States, Britain and Canada.

The influence of western technology, designed as it is for affluent markets, makes it difficult for Grenada's food industry to find food processing equipment and technologies appropriate to its particular mix of resources and inputs and thus able to compete with imported food. This tendency to consume processed food imports instead of local produce is further reinforced by recent trends in the international food industry. These trends include growing corporate concentration and a movement in the food processing industry to compete for disposable income through demand creation rather than cost reductions. These factors have influenced the technologies available to the Grenadian industry (and hence its competitiveness) as well as the particular structure of demand for food in Grenada.

Forced to compete for disposible income against manufactured goods because of relatively lower income elasticities of demand for food, the food industry has attempted to become more efficient in influencing tastes as well as in lowering production costs. The impact of advertising and the development of capital intensive technologies designed for affluent western markets have combined to trigger a process of corporate concentration which the food industry had hitherto resisted because of its sensitivity to local tastes, transport requirements and storage limitations. The quality, packaging and advertising standards against which local produce must compete are such as to discourage the development of a local food processing industry.

William Demas has made the following comment on the role of the media in promoting inappropriate consumer demand in the Caribbean:

Any honest and clear-minded view of the role of the mass media as they operate at present in the region will show them as instruments for selling metropolitan consumer goods produced either in the advanced countries or in the Caribbean under license, for homogenising the population of the region for induction into a second rate kind of mass commercial culture, and for effectively blocking the emergence of a genuine Caribbean identity. (Demas,1973:21)

The international food industry has also penetrated the Grenadian market directly through advertising in the local and regional media, and indirectly through the influence of tourism on local tastes and expectations. The data presented by Dellimore and Whitehead on agro-industry of the Eastern Caribbean shows that the media influences tastes towards foods with a high import content and a degree of processing which is nutritionally inefficient.

Dellimore and Whitehead cite several concrete examples of inappropriate technological choice resulting from foreign influenced technology and product choice. One is the demand for white, wheat flour bread, which results in the importation of standard technologies and equipment for the baking of hard wheat flour only. These technologies make it difficult to begin a progressive substitution of composite flours as a means of saving foreign exchange and of stimulating local agricultural production. Another is the selection of multipurpose driers which rely on electricity and/or expensive fossil fuels. While they may be competitive for expensive processed or convenience foods, these driers are too costly to operate in the drying of inexpensive local fruit and vegetable products. Thus overcapacity in a small market cannot easily be offset by making the driers economically as well as technically multipurpose. (Dellimore,1979:62,63)

An interview with a senior employee of a transnational corporation is illustrative of the difficulties which can be expected in the transformation of that part of the industry that is foreign dominated.

He admitted to having access to the product formulations of all products manufactured by the TNC, both local and overseas, and was largely responsible for reformulating them to suit the local market. He also knew how to obtain equipment at half the cost paid by the subsidiary of the TNC. Yet, in spite of his privileged position in comparison to other would be entrepreneurs, he indicated he did not feel able to take advantage of it by going into production in competition with his present employer. Though he could produce as good a product and had no strong feeling of loyalty to his employer, he felt that without an established brand name behind him, it would cost a fortune in advertising to enter the market successfully. (Dellimore and Whitehead,1979:145)
The tourist industry is another factor which influences Grenada's food consumption patterns, in addition to income distribution, technology transfer and the media. While food consumed by tourists is only a tiny portion of national consumption, tourism has a potential demonstration effect far beyond its quantitative impact.

Of total "meal-days" measured for Grenada in 1980, only 0.76% came from stayover and cruise visitors. (World Bank,1982: Table 7.1) In 1978 this figure was 1.0%. Even allowing for much higher per capita calorie and protein consumption, say 9,600 calories per day versus 4,550 (3), tourist food energy consumption was only 1.6% of total "calorie-days" in 1980. The relative insignificance of tourist food consumption in terms of volume means that it is unlikely to be a substantial stimulus to local agricultural production. Increased local incomes and food consumption will have a much greater marginal impact on local agriculture than will tourism.

However, tourist demand can affect Grenada's food consumption and production in other ways which may be very significant. Tourist expenditures of an average US$50 per person per day influence local conditions in a number of areas: demand for highly processed foods with "international standard" quality; transfer of inappropriate technology to meet these "international standards"; importation of mass consumer technology to the extent that mass tourism forms at least a part of the Grenadian "market"; creation of a demonstration effect on wage and income expectations and therefore on local labour costs and supply.


Table 1 below provides a detailed outline of national food energy consumption in Grenada for 1980. Detailed import and production volumes were translated into food values and costs and sub-totaled with the assistance of a computer. Consumption was analysed under fifteen categories of food type and categorized by local and imported food, food energy, protein, and food costs. Consumption here is defined as being "dissappearance" of food in the absence of adequate statistics to determine changes in inventories.

Similar analyses were undertaken of protein consumption and foods costs and the overall results are tabulated in Table 3 below. Comparisons between the structures of total national consumption and expenditures and consumption in La Poterie are provided to demonstrate the differences in consumption at different income levels.

In comparing consumption in La Poterie and nationally, it is also necessary to take into consideration the relative amounts of animal origin foods, since seven plant calories are required to produce one calorie of food energy of animal origin. (UNCTAD,1980:4) This means that actual food energy consumption in Grenada and La Poterie, both direct and indirect, is 4530 kcal/ person/day and 2547 kcal/person/day respectively; a ratio of 1:0.56 vs the direct energy consumption ratio of 1:0.73. It is interesting to note that total demand for food energy in the industrialized market economies in 1979 was 9600 kcal/person/day indirect and 3373 kcal/person/day direct (UNCTAD,1980:4), or more than twice that of Grenada's national average and 3.8 times that of La Poterie.


% of

Local Production Imports Exports Local Consumption National La Poterie
FISH 1750000 1305035 17490 3037545 .0346 3.2%
MEAT 2741435 4081100 149140 6673395 7.6% 3.6%
DAIRY & EGGS 268950 5608290 0 5877240 6.7% 2.9%
FLOUR/WHEAT 0 27944607 1733721 26210886 29.2% 30.2%
RICE 0 3219810 0 3219810 3.7% 0.0%
OTHER CEREALS 1620234 7148336 0 8768570 10.0% 0.0%
VEGETABLES 1791611 929608 0 2721219 3.1% 9.0%
FRUIT 5364211 183071 320531 5226751 6.0% 4.3%
ROOT CROPS/STARCHES 3078412 486788 0 3565200 4.1% 24.3%
SUGAR & SYRUPS 1841874 10124045 0 11965919 13.6% 9.1%
EDIBLE OILS 2169822 1690547 0 3860369 4.4% 5.5%
MARGARINE/SHORTENING 0 3204618 0 3204618 3.7% 0.0%
ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES 1786003 812273 0 2598276 3.0% 0.0%
SOFT DRINKS 356879 178100 0 534979 0.6% 0.0%
MISCELLANEOUS 0 355354 0 355354 0.4% 7.8%

TOTALS 22769431 67271582 2220882 87820131 100.0% 100.0%

NATIONAL PERCENTAGES 25.93% + 76.60% - 2.53% = 100.00%

AVERAGE FOOD ENERGY CONSUMPTION IN GRENADA IN 1980 WAS 2,194 kcal./person/day (Popl'n 109,664; 365 days)


1) Statistical Office, Ministry of Agriculture, St.George's.
2) Imports by SITC, Central Statistical Office, St.George's.
3) World Bank, Economic Memorandum on Grenada - Report No.3825- GRD, Aug. 4, 1982, Washington, D.C.
4) Caribbean Food & Nutrition Institute, Food Composition Tables, Kingston Jamaica, 1974.
5) CFNI, La Poterie Nutrition Survey, May 1972, p.11.2.


Annual Income Range No.of Wage % of Wage Total Est. % of Est
Earners Earners Income Income
No income or not stated 21,695 49.1% EC$ 0 0%
EC$0-1,500 17,036 38.5% 12,914,000 44.1%
1,500-5,000 4,891 11.1% 11,769,750 40.2%
5,000 plus 487 1.3% 4,589,000 15.7%

TOTALS 44,209 100.0% 29,275,750 100.0%

Source: 1970 Census, University of the West Indies, Trinidad.


1) Imported 1681 76.60% 54.6 76.60% $1.10 54.70%
2) Processed 1535 69.98% 47.9 67.13% 1.28 63.51%
3) Animal Origin 389 17.75% 35.2 49.41% 0.69 34.0%

TOTAL 2194 100% 71.3 100% $2.02 100%

La Poterie
1) Imported 742 46.10% 22.1 50.50% $0.47 34.30%
2) Processed 949 58.94% 23.0 52.55% 0.69 49.98%
3) Animal Origin 160 9.96% 13.4 30.60% 0.47 34.10%

TOTAL 1610 100% 43.8 100% $1.38 100%

CFNI RECOMMENDED 2342 kcal. 58.0 gm.

CASH INCOME - Grenada (National) EC$320/yr. (1970)
- La Poterie EC$160/yr. (1972)

1) Statistical Office, Min. Agriculture, St. George's.
2) Imports by SITC, Central Statistical Office, St.George's.
3) World Bank, Economic Memorandum on Grenada, Report #3825-GRD, Aug. 4, 1982, Washington, D.C.
4) Caribbean Food & Nutrition Institute, La Poterie Nutrition Survey, May 1972, p.11.2.
5) 1978 Abstract of Statistics, Central Statistical Office, St. George's.
6) Income Distribution Tables, 1970 Census, University of the West Indies, Jamaica, 1971.

NOTE: 1) Care must be taken in the comparison of food expenditures and income data since different years are involved. Discrepancies in inflation factors and retail price index weights from actual consumption patterns could distort the adjustments I have made in order to compare the data from the 1972 La Poterie Survey with the 1980 data.

It is clear from these figures that low income diets, which tend to use food energy more directly, without the "waste" associated with meat production and excess processing, require fewer kilocalories and thus fewer resources than those needed to satisfy higher income, higher calorie diets. This diversion of resources to high income consumption patterns blocks or prolongs efforts to adequately feed the entire population of Grenada.

Food consumption in Grenada has been shown to be influenced by two major factors: 1) unequal income distribution (both international and domestic) and 2) demand creation and growing concentration in the international food industry. These factors operate in such a way as to create or maintain demand for end products which can be produced using local resources and technology only with great difficulty and excessive cost. Without a restructuring of these demand patterns, the process of agricultural self-reliance will be slowed or even blocked. I am not arguing here that Grenada should accept "second rate" food in order to become self-reliant. The objective of this analysis however is to clearly point out the opportunity costs of maintaining inequitable income and consumption structures.


In planning agricultural self-reliance along the lines indicated by the alternative model, the use of local resources for local consumption must be a major objective. This is Thomas' first "iron law of transformation", the convergence of resource use with demand. In this section, it will be shown that Grenada's pattern of land use, focused as it is on export production and based on a highly unequal distribution of land, creates particular problems for the convergence of local production and local consumption of food. These problems include the distortion of domestic agricultural productivity by international markets, as a result of the heavy focus on export production. They also involve the waste of a substantial quantity of land which is left idle because of circumstances introduced by internal class relations and by international market conditions.

Current land use in Grenada is characterized by three main features: a highly unequal distribution of ownership, a devotion to export crops rather than local food crops and a high proportion of idle land. As can be seen in Table Five below, land ownership is very unequal, with only 0.3% of all holdings, representing estates of 100 acres or more, containing 31% of the cultivated land in 1981. The dominance of export crops is demonstrated in Table Four, which shows that 80% of the 14,804 ha. estimated in cultivation at the end of 1981 was devoted to the three major export crops: banana, cocoa and nutmeg. With respect to idle land, the total cultivated acreage fell from 24,079 ha. in 1961 to 13,697 ha. in 1981; a drop of 43% over 20 years. (Weir,1979:13; Ag.Census,1981:3) In addition to this land taken out of production, it has been estimated that approximately 30% of cultivated farmland (some 3,980 ha.) was lying idle in 1981. This estimate comes from a revision of Brierley's 1981 findings (5,704 idle ha.) with more current data on Grenada Farms Corporation land used for the larger holdings. (Brierley,1981:28; GFCa,1981:26)

Grenada has a total land area of 34,000 ha. (including Carriacou), of which some 10,000 ha. is either primary forest, or under residential, industrial or infrastructural use. (Ifill,1977:5) The 10,388 ha. of unused land mentioned above, plus 3,980 ha. of idle farmland, or 14,368 ha. in total, represents 60% of the 24,000 ha. of cultivable farmland in Grenada. The reasons for this considerable waste of resources lie in a complex mixture of historic, political and economic conditions.


Area ha. 1981 Local production kg. Exports 1980 kg. Imports 1980 kg. Domestic consumption kg. Local Prod. & Dom. Con. kg.
FISH -0 1590909 16140 507853 2082622 76.4%
MEAT 848 1029192 63075 2286618 3252735 31.6%
DAIRY -0 0 -0 1632210 1632210 0.0%
FLOUR/WHEAT 0 0 476297 8091431 7615134 0.0%
RICE 0 0 -0 887000 887000 0.0%
OTHER CEREALS 70 448818 473519 1902353 1877652 23.9%
PIGEON PEAS 110 449250 -0 56707 505957 88.8%
OTHER VEGETABLES 59 850329 22394 518851 1346786 63.1%
ROOT CROPS 167 1165360 -0 593644 1759004 66.2%
BREADFRUIT 190 1749318 -0 -0 1749318 100.0%
SUGAR 440 500000 -0 2707396 3207396 15.6%
CITRUS 588 3533203 38013 187467 3682657 95.9%
OTHER FRUITS 668 4008650 389426 95949 3715173 107.9%
BANANA 1400 16363636 12458505 -0 3905131 100.0%
COCOA 6400 2136364 1865555 -0 270,809** 100.0%
NUTMEG 4000 2493770 1518426 -0 975,344** 100.0%
COCONUT 1380 1818182 -0 5000 1823182 99.7%

1) Ministry of Agriculture/IICA, Nov.-Dec. 1981 crop survey, mimeo
2) 1980 Production Estimates, Statistical Office, Ministry of Agriculture, St. George's.
3) Imports by SITC, Central Statistical Office, St. George's.



                                     1881     1891      1900      1911      1919      1929     1940      1945     1961     1975     1981

UNDER 10 ACRES         |          2,508          |              |        13,248  15,419   18,456  19,592   13,444 12,030 7,808
10-100 ACRES           3,000          |           8,176   8,349          |             426        457       383         560      469     365
OVER 100 ACRES         |             516          |      |       |              143      138       125       130            92        65      24

 SOURCES: - Grenada Handbook,1946:passim
                       - Statistical Office, Ministry of Agriculture, St.George's

Agricultural resources, primarily land and labour, while theoretically available in sufficient quantity to replace all food imports with local production (See Tables Six and Seven below), are subject to a number of conditions which limit their quick or easy mobilization. Among these conditions are a highly fragmented structure of land ownership, tenure and productivity; international commodity markets which transfer inappropriate production technology to Grenadian agriculture; a historical neglect of agricultural investment which has reduced the productivity of land; and a legacy of social relations of production which has depressed labour productivity to very low levels. Let us look at each of these in turn.

As we can see in Table Five, Grenada must cope with a highly fragmented organization of land tenure which has reduced the efficiency of food production. Small holdings (under 10 acres) contained 5,898 ha. or 43% of the cultivated land in 1981 and private estates and state farms held 45% and 12% respectively. (Table Five and GFCa,1981:26) Notwithstanding this highly skewed land distribution, farms under 10 acres produced approximately 50% of export crops (nutmeg, cocoa and bananas) and 85% of food crops in 1978, an indicator of the inefficiency and collapse of the estate sector, despite its political and economic dominance over the centuries.

The result of this fragmentation of ownership is a division of production which requires policies to tackle deficiencies in all three sectors, small holder, estate and state farms in an ongoing and interdependent manner. While investment in small scattered private holdings is often seen as less effective than for estates over which greater central control of inputs can be exercised, we must not lose sight of the fact that we are dealing with a social process as well as agricultural productivity. A dialectical approach is required which balances increases in small farm productivity (and therefore returns and buying power for the majority of the population), while at the same time maintaining and improving the productivity and foreign exchange earnings of the estates. Not an easy task, but necessary nevertheless.

Since 80% of Grenada's farmland is devoted to export crops, the dynamics of international commodity markets influence food production technology in much the same way as noted above for Grenada's food processing industry. In particular, the monopsony control of banana marketing by the transnational corporation, Geest, has introduced modern agricultural technology such as fertilizers, biocides and plastic sleeves. The expanded use of these inputs extends the cash economy to small growers and thus enlarges the market under which unequal relations of exchange drain surplus from the Grenadian economy. Geest benefits from this unequal exchange through its complete control of transport and wholesale distribution of West Indian bananas within Britain and its transport and supply of the modern inputs which it deems necessary if it is to maintain competitivness and purchases of bananas.

It must be noted that, since this modern technology originates mainly from modern capitalist agriculture, it follows the logic of capitalist markets and favours increased productivity of fixed capital, particularly land. Since the distribution of land is unequal, this technology thus benefits one group of producers, the estates, more than others.

Despite their privileged position however, the estates have been chronically undercapitalized, since their surplus was "consumed" elsewhere rather than reinvested locally. Following the collapse of sugar, Grenadian estates drifted to local ownership and lacked the access to markets and working capital which speeded the transition to capitalist agriculture in Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad and Guyana. Incentives for capitalist investment were also limited by the lack of significant industrial processing necessary for Grenada's export crops. The rugged terrain also posed limits to mechanization. In addition, what little accumulation did take place was set back by the destruction caused by Hurricane Janet in 1955 and the land "reform" policies of "Hurricane Gairy" in the early 1970's. As a result, investment in estate lands to modernize production lagged considerably and now requires considerable investment to catch up with the level of productivity necessary to compete in international markets and to reduce the opportunity costs of local vs imported food production.

The state farms, a legacy of expropriations by Gairy, face similar conditions to those of the private sector and are confronted as well by difficulties of access to management skills since they must compete with other expanding state sectors. They do have some advantages however in improved access to training and social programmes for their workers which could speed the growth of labour productivity.

It is claimed by some authors that peasant or small holders are more efficient than estates in their efforts to justify increased investment for this sector. (Greenwood,1973) Beckford argues that the apparent efficiency of small farmers is the result of their highly intensive use of labour, which reduces the amount of idle land on small farms as compared to the estates. (Beckford,1972b:33) This intense exploitation of family labour masks low levels of labour productivity through greater yields per acre owned (as opposed to per acre actually cultivated).

Small holders have also been chronically starved of the credit, additional land and access to improved technology which could increase their labour productivity. These factors which influence small farm productivity are important, since the allocation of resources for increased food production under the model proposed here cannot simply maintain current conditions of efficiency which are based on an unequal sharing of resources such as land, credit and technology.

What is required is a dynamic view of efficiency, under which the allocation of resources will be based on changing patterns of control over the means of productio , and thus on changing rates of efficiency in the major sectors: small holders, co-operatives, estates and state farms. At the same time, this control must be consolidated so as to increase co-operation and an additional division of labour in order to further increase efficiency. If increased division of labour and therefore increased productivity is achieved through the consolidation of holdings carried out or regulated by the state, it could easily conflict with the interests of the owners of scattered private farms unless the benefits of increased efficiency are passed on to them. This of course is one of the fundamental dichotomies which land reform must face.

To gain support for a greater degree of consolidation and therefore efficiency, educational programmes are needed which show how, in a complex dependent capitalist economy, cultural and ideological barriers, particularly those which surround private property, help to obscure the benefits of co-operative action and ownership. These barriers also help to maintain unequal income distribution through the confusion of small property rights with the "rights" of large property which dominate the economy. This is not to negate a role for small farm holdings however, since objectively, most food production and a large percentage of exports comes from holdings under 10 acres in Grenada.

Since no one group has sufficient resources to meet all the demand for domestic food without drastically reducing export earnings and bankrupting the island's economy, increased food production must realistically come from both large and small farmers. A clear understanding of the situation of small farms, estates and state agriculture in Grenada is therefore necessary before policies can be discussed which balance increased production and productivity in all three groups against income redistribution policies which would favour small farmers over the other two.


When calculations were made of the hypothetical extra acreage required to replace food imports, the difference in resource requirements between the current unequal structure of national consumption, and consumption by the poor rural majority (as represented by La Poterie) becomes clear. In these calculations it was assumed that adequate food energy would be provided to the entire population at the level of CFNI recommendations, but that the structure of national consumption would be that of La Poterie, rather than the actual structure which is "distorted" by the high income sectors of the population. Based on this hypothetical situation, 6,874 to 7,560 ha. of extra cultivation would be required to replace 56% of food energy imports. At least 12,328 ha. or 79% to 63% more land would be required to replace the same percentage of imports if the current unequal national demand for food energy were to be met from local production. This does not include any allowances for more sophisticated agro-industrial investment which would be required to replace processed foods.

It is clear from these figures then that Thomas' second "iron law", that of the convergence of demand and need, is particularly relevant to the amount of resources required for agricultural self-reliance in Grenada today.


Ha. assumed needed for self-reliance Labour force required
La Poterie Demand (Based on most energy coming from Pigeon Peas) 6874 5130
La Poterie Demand (Based on substitution of 15% of wheat consumption) 7560 5642
La Poterie Demand (Based on replacement of all wheat) 11344 8466
National Demand (15% of wheat replaced) 12328 9200
National Demand (all wheat replaced) 17330 12933


  1. See Tables Seven & Eight for an outline of the assumptions made in arriving at these figures.
  2. The requirement of 5,130 to 9,200 extra agricultural workers can be compared with an agricultural labour force of 10,200 (Coard,1983:46), a total labour force of 37,930 and unemployment of 10,460 in October of 1980. (UWI,1980:14)
  3. The requirement of an extra 6,874 to 17,330 hectares of land can be compared to the 10,382 hectares of land lost to production in the period 1961 to 1982.
  4. Labour requirements were calculated on the basis of an agricultural labour force of 10,200 in 1980 (UWI,1981:13) and cultivation of 13,690 ha. (See Table Four), giving a labour intensity of 1.34 ha./worker.


The circle of inter-dependent linkages between class, income, land ownership and food consumption should be evident from the material presented above. These relationships, and therefore the development strategies which attempt to modify them, are extremely complex, and often vex Caribbean politicians who would prefer to present simplistic solutions and rely on rhetoric rather than reason to attract their voters. This complexity is also a bane to those theoreticians and practitioners who tout the scientific correctness of their recommendations, without the flexibility to adapt and modify when faced with frequent changes in the political and economic conjuncture. We have seen how food consumption structures are concretely connected to income levels, and how agricultural land is similarly linked to income. While not as concrete or easily measured as food consumption or agricultural resources, class relationships are obviously closely associated with income levels as well. In addition to the more objective influence of income, diets relate to class through the influence of cultural and social customs. The example of salt cod as a legacy of slavery is but one example, with many other examples to be found in folklore of the role of root crops, fish, rum, etc. as distinct manifestations of food and class. Similarly, the different roles of land, agricultural practices, tools, animal husbandry, landless farming and many other features of Caribbean peasant and estate agriculture highlight distinct class approaches to food production.


Kcal. demand 1980
Kcal. imports 1980
% replaced
Kcal. new production requ'd
Assumed MT/ha.
Yields Kcal./ha.
Extra ha. requ'd
MEAT 6673395 4081100 100% 4081100 (1,095)
5608290 5608290 50% 2804145 (1,330)
5608290 5608290 100% 5608290 (1,330)
26210886 26210886 15%(3) 3931633 (7,700) 7 511
26210886 26210886 100% 26210886 (7,700) 7 3404
RICE 3219810 3219810 100% 3219810 (3,960) 1.1 813
OTHER CEREALS 8768569 7148336 100% 7148336 (8,772) 2.43 815
ROOT CROPS/STARCHES 3565200 486788 100% 486788 (7,700) 7 63
SUGAR 11965919 10124045 100% 10124045 (10,071) 2.7 1005
VEGETABLES 2721219 929608 100% 929608 (5,417) 7.7 172
Ed.OILS/SHORT'G 7064987 4895165 100% 4895165 (1,572)

1 -56% of food 37,620,630 12,328 ha. energy imports
2 -93% of food 62,704,028 17,330 ha. energy imports


  1. Meat and Dairy yields per ha. were calculated from kg./carcass , ha./animal, kg.feed/carcass and litre/lactation data found in Blades and Motta, "A Preliminary Design for a Regional Livestock Complex", mimeo, CARICOM Secretariat, 1975.
  2. No data was available for local dairy production and it is assumed here that all dairy supplies are imported. In actual fact, there is likely a small trade and home production of dairy products for which data was not available.
  3. In the first case, it is assumed that wheat flour is replaced by 15% root crop or legume flours. While theoretically possible to go beyond composite flours and replace all wheat flour, the costs and nutritional disruptions incurred are likely to make such a policy politically disastrous, as the Government of Guyana is currently discovering.
  4. Yields are for root crop flours, taken from Williams, "The Agronomy of Major Tropical Crops", Oxford University Press, 1975 and local data.
  5. Rice yields are for hill rice in Belize. Although test plantings apparently have been conducted in Grenada, and some 6,500 ha. of suitably wet good soils exist, officials are pessimistic about local rice cultivation due to the low yields of hill rice in comparison with imported Guyanese paddy rice. The estimate of suitable acreage available for rice cultivation was made by comparing soil and climate conditions on overlay maps made from data in the 1959 UWI Soil and Land Use Survey. (Vernon, Payne & Spector,1959)
  6. The assumed yield here is for local maize production.
  7. Sugar yields come from Grenada Sugar Factory production estimates.
  8. Vegetable yields are averaged from local production data.
  9. Oil/Shortening data comes from local coconut/copra/oil production.


Item/Crop % of Demand Kcal. Hypothetical Demand Kcal. Actual Demand Kcal. % Production Extra Production Requ'd Assumed Yields MT/ha. Extra ha. Requ'd
MEAT 3.6% 3,161,525 2,741,435 100% 420,090 (1,095) 384
DAIRY 1 2.9% 2,546,784 268,950 50% 1,138,917 (1,330) 856
DAIRY 2 2.9% 2,546,784 268,950 100% 2,277,834 (1,330) 1713
FLOUR 1 30.2% 26,521,679 0 15% 3,978,252 (7,700) 517
FLOUR 2 30.2% 26,521,679 0 100% 26,521,679 (7,700) 3444
ROOT CROPS/STARCHES 24.3% 21,340,291 3,078,412 100% 18,261,879 (7,700) 2372
SUGAR 9.1% 7,991,632 1,841,874 100% 6,149,758 (10,071) 611
VEGETABLES 9.0% 7,903,812 1,791,611 100% 6,112,201 (5,417) 1128
EDIBLE OILS/SHORTENING 5.5% 4,830,107 2,169,822 100% 2,660,285 (1,572 1692
Totals 1



87,820,131 15.4% of demand




  1. Hypothetical demand in this Table has been calculated assuming that the same national consumption of food energy (87,820,131 Kcal. from Table 1) is distributed among the various food categories as found in the La Poterie household survey, and not the actual "distorted" national consumption structure. This would result in an adequate and more equitable food energy supply but would require more fish, dairy products or pigeon peas to provide adequate, equitable and inexpensive protein consumption.
  2. Assumed yields are outlined in Table Eight below.
  3. The second vegetable figure (accounted for in Total 3 above) is based on this category being supplied almost entirely by pigeon peas, which was the case found in the La Poterie survey.

The coexistence of various forms of land tenure (for example: "peasant" small farms, middle "peasants", landless labourers, mini-estates, plantations, state farms and co-operatives) requires that a diversity of solutions be found, since the resources required for self-reliant agriculture are beyond the capability of any one group or class. (Thomas,1974:289) The quantity of output is not the only variable either, since, as we have seen, the quantity of land and labour needed for self-reliance is indivisibly linked to the composition of output. Quantum and composition of agricultural production are therefore inseperable for the purposes of planning as advocated by the model discussed here.

The complexity of planning within this framework goes well beyond the econometric and agronomic variables normally considered in government planning offices. It must also include political and social factors as well.

As noted earlier, the process of decision making which determines relative levels of consumption versus accumulation of scarce resources must be as democratic as possible if the majority of the population are to accept the sacrifices inherent in the transformation of the society against great odds. Thomas is one of the few authors in this area to stress the importance of democracy to socialist transformation. At the risk of being simplistic, one could argue that it was around this whole area of political organization that the process led by the NJM in Grenada foundered.

In addition, the reaction of external actors is a critical area of concern. The need for foreign exchange to purchase those capital goods required to transform local production creates vulnerability in relation to those forces which control access to most of the international liquidity available for development projects today. The availability of aid for the international airport in Grenada provided a limited breathing space and fuelled much of the economic growth which took place during the Revolution. The near completion of its construction and the consequent reduction in cash flow which offset the historical drain of surplus through commodity exports, were of considerable concern to Grenada's planners and politicians. Maurice Bishop, in his trip to Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union just prior to his murder in October 1983, had secured an agreement to study the feasibility of a second deep water harbour in Grenville on Grenada's east coast. It may be that the NJM hoped to buy further time for the transformation of the economy through the influx of funds for another large construction project.

In the end however, it was not the restriction of foreign exchange receipts, but militarized conflict, both internal and geo-political, which restricted the advance of the Grenada Revolution through military intervention, by both a faction of the NJM and the U.S.A. This military intervention has led to a dominance of external military power in Grenada (and the entire Caribbean) on a scale never seen or required during its colonial occupation. The resources diverted to military concerns now reduce the investment available to tackle the urgent problems of underdevelopment in agriculture.

Politicians now tend to be guided by priorities which have little to do with the study of the complex food problems discussed here, since their external "benefactors" reject the need for self-reliance. It may be some time before the potential of this alternative model can again be tested against the reality of the Caribbean's development problems.


(1) C.Y Thomas, in "The Rise of the Authoritarian State in Peripheral Societies", (Monthly Review Press, New York, 1984) provides the basis for an analysis which stresses the role and nature of the state as a mechanism for the creation of classes as well as (or in lieu of) the traditional Marxist view of the state as the object and tool of class control.

(2) For a good review of the impact of these factors on the food industry, see UNCTAD, "The Food Processing Sector in Developing Countries: Some Recent Trends in the Transfer and Development of Technology", TD/B/C.6/66, Geneva, October 14, 1980.

(3) These allowances for per capita food energy consumption come from an adjustment of real calorie intake to highlight the greater meat content of high income "tourist" diets. It has been calculated that seven calories of plant food energy are required to produce one calorie of food energy of animal origin. (UNCTAD,1980:4) Therefore, actual food energy consumption in Grenada (national statistics) and La Poterie is 4530 kcal/person/day and 2547 kcal/person/day respectively in terms of the energy required to produce direct consumption of 2194 kcal. and 1610 kcal. (See Table One below for these figures.) It is interesting to note that with this type of adjustement, food energy consumption in industrialized market economies in 1979 was 9600 kcal/person/day compared with direct consumption of 3373 kcal. (UNCTAD,1980:4), or more than twice Grenada's national average and 3.8 times that of La Poterie.



Bettelheim, C. & Sweezy, P. (1971) On the Transition to Socialism. New York: Monthly Review.

Coard, Bernard (1982) Report on the National Economy for 1981 and the Prospects for 1982. St. George's: Government Printing Office.

----- (1983) Report on the National Economy for 1982 and the Budget- Plan for 1983 and Beyond. St. George's: Government Printery.

Craig, Susan (1982) Ed. Contemporary Caribbean: A Sociological Reader. Port of Spain: By the author.

Cumberbatch, Edward (1977) Agro-Industrial Science and Technology Needs in Grenada. Washington: O.A.S. Studies in Scientific and Technical Development No.33.

Dellimore, J. & Whitehead, J. (1979) Secondary Agro-Based Industries: ECCM and Barbados. Barbados: Caribbean Technology Policy Studies Project I.

Demas, William (1973) The Political Economy of the English Speaking Caribbean: A Summary View. Barbados: Caribbean Ecumenical Consultation for Development, Study Paper No.4.

EPICA (1982) Grenada: The Peaceful Revolution. Washington: Ecumenical Program for Inter-American Communication and Action.

Farrell, Trevor (1982) Small Size, Technology and Development Strategy. Trinidad: Caribbean Technology Policy Studies Project II, UWI.Œ

Gittens-Knight, E. (1946) The Grenada Handbook and Directory, 1946. Barbados: Advocate Co. Ltd.

Gonsalves, Ralph (1981) The Non-Capitalist Path of Development: Africa and the Caribbean. London: One Caribbean Publishers.

Greenwood, D.S. (1973) The Political Economy of Peasant Family Farming: Some Anthropological Perspectives on Rationality and Adaptation. Ithaca: Cornell University Rural Development Occasional Paper No.2.

Marshall, W.K. (196?) Metayage in the Sugar Industry of the British Windward Islands: 1838-1865. Barbados: Department of History, University of the West Indies (mimeo).

Post, Ken (1978) Arise Ye Starvlings: The Jamaican Labour Rebellion of 1938 and Its Aftermath. The Hague: Nijhoff.

Thomas, C.Y. (1974) Dependence and Transformation: The Economics of the Transition to Socialism. New York: Monthly Review.
----- (1982) The Threat and the Promise: An Assessment of the Impact of Technological Developments in the High Fructose Corn Syrup and Sucro-Chemical Industries. Trinidad: Caribbean Technology Policy Studies Project II, ISER/UWI & IDS/UG.

Vail, D.J. (1975) The Case for Rural Industry: Economic Factors Favoring Small Scale, Decentralized, Labour Intensive Manufacturing. Ithaca: Cornell University Institute on Science, Technology and Development (mimeo).

Vernon, Payne and Spector (1959) Soil and Land-Use Surveys: No. 9 Grenada. Trinidad: Imperial College of Tropical Agriculture.

Wallerstein, Immanuel (1980) The Modern World System II: Mercantilism and the Consolidation of the European World Economy, 1600-1750. New York: Academic Press.

Williams, Eric (1944) Capitalism and Slavery. New York: Capricorn.

Williams, C.N. (1975) The Agronomy of Major Tropical Crops. London: Oxford University Press.


Amin, Samir (1977) "Self-Reliance and the New International Economic Order", Monthly Review 29,3: 1-21.

Beckford, George (1972b) "Land Reform for the Betterment of Caribbean Peoples", Proceedings of the 7th West Indian Agricultural Economics Conference.

Best, Lloyd & Levitt, K. (1968) "A Model of a Pure Plantation Economy", Social and Economic Studies 17,3: 283-326.

Dellimore, J.H. (1979) "Select Technological Issues in Agro-Industry (I)", Social and Economic Studies 28,1: 54-96.

Foster-Carter, Aidan (1978) "The Modes of Production Controversy", New Left Review 107 (January-February):47-77.

Girvan, Norman (1973) "The Development of Dependency Economics in the Caribbean and Latin America: Review and Comparison", Social and Economic Studies 22,1: 1-33.

Hart Richard (1982) "Trade Unionism in the English Speaking Caribbean: The Formative Years and the Caribbean Labour Congress", in Craig (ed.) Contemporary Caribbean: A Sociological Reader, Vol.2.

James, C.L.R. (1980) "The West Indian Middle Classes" in Spheres of Existence: Selected Writings. New York: Lawrence Hill & Co.

LeFranc, E. (1980) "Small Farming in Grenada" in Small Farming in the Less Developed Countries of the Commonwealth Caribbean. Barbados: Caribbean Development Bank: 1-56.

Lewis, Arthur (1949) "Industrial Development in the Caribbean", Caribbean Economic Review 1,1&2.

----- (1954) "Economic Development with Unlimited Supplies of Labour", The Manchester School of Economics and Social Studies.

Lewis, Gordon (1981) "The Caribbean in the 1980's: What We Should Study" Caribbean Review X,4: 17-?.

Leys, Colin (1977) ""Underdevelopment and Dependency: Critical Notes:, Journal of Contemporary Asia VII,1: 92-107.

Mansour, Fawzy (1979) "Third World Revolt and Self-Reliant Auto-Centred Strategy of Development" in Towards a New Strategy for Development. Rothko Chapel: Pergamon: 198-239.

Pack, H. (1974) "The Employment/Output Tradeoff in LDC's: A Micro- economic Approach", Oxford Economic Papers 26,3.

Shanin, Teodor (1983) "Late Marx and the Russian 'Periphery of Capitalism'", Monthly Review 35,2: 10-24.

Silberston, A. (1972) "Economies of Scale in Theory and Practice", Economic Journal 28,285: 369.

Thomas C.Y. (1982) "From Colony to State Capitalism: Alternative Paths of Development in the Caribbean", Transition 5: 1-20.

Whitehead, Judy (1979) "Select Technological Issues in Agro-Industry (II)", Social and Economic Studies 28,1: 139-188.


CARICOM (1975) A Preliminary Design for a Regional Livestock Complex, Blades, H. & Motta, S. Georgetown: Caribbean Community Secretariat.

CARDI (1980) A Profile of Small Farming in Antigua, Montserrat and Grenada. Trinidad: University of the West Indies - Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute.

CFNI (1972) La Poterie Nutrition Survey. Trinidad: Caribbean Food and Nutrition Institute.

----- (1974) Food Composition Tables for Use in the English-Speaking Caribbean. Kingston: Caribbean Food and Nutrition Institute.

----- (1976) The Nutritional Status of Young Children in Grenada. Trinidad: CFNI-T-36-76.

----- (1979) Food Production and Availability in Grenada by Colin Weir. Trinidad: CFNI-T-72-79.

----- (1980) Background Data on Rural Development Policies and Programmes in Grenada. Trinidad: CFNI-T-55-80.

CTRC (1980) Grenada Visitor Expenditure and Motivation Survey: Summer and Winter 1979 by Belfon, J. Barbados: Caribbean Tourism Research Centre.

ECLA (1977) Agricultural Sector Plan for Grenada - 1977-81 by Ifil, M. Trinidad: Economic Commission for Latin America, ECLA/CARIB 77/3, Vol. 1.

----- (1978) Land/Man Relationship in the Caribbean: With Special Reference to Grenada, by Max Ifil. Trinidad: Economic Commission for Latin America, ECLA/CARIB 78/1. ECLA (1979) Report on a Farm Survey Conducted in Grenada, by Max Ifil. Trinidad: ECLA/CARIB 79/12.

Grenada (1978) Abstract of Statistics - 1978. St. George's: Central Statistical Office.

----- (1979) Abstract of Statistics (First Quarter) - 1979. St.George's: Central Statistical Office.

----- (1980) Imports by S.I.T.C. - 1980. St. George's: Central Statistical Office.

----- (1981a) Agriculture Sector Report - June 1981. St. George's: Ministry of Agriculture.

----- (1981b) Agricultural Production Estimates - Quantity and Value, 1977-1980. St. George's: Ministry of Agriculture Statistical Unit.

----- (1981c) A Preliminary Investigation of Idle Land in Grenada, with Special Reference to the Grand Roy Valley, prepared by John Brierley. St. George's: Ministry of Agriculture (mimeo).

----- (1981d) Agricultural Census - 1981. St. George's: Ministry of Agriculure.

----- (1980) Wages in Grenada - September 1980. St. George's: Ministry of Labour.

----- (1980) Proceedings of the First Grenada Conference on Science and Technology. St. George's: Ministry of Planning.

GFC (1980) Project Profile for the Development of the Grenada Farms Corporation. St. George's: Grenada Farms Corporation.

GFCa (1980) Addendum One, Project Profile for the Development of the Grenada Farms Corporation. St. George's: Grenada Farms Corporation.

IICA (1982) Acreages of Crops Cultivated in Grenada. St. George's: Interamerican Institute for Co-operation in Agriculture (excerpted from an unpublished survey dated November-December 1981).

International Monetary Fund (1981) Grenada - Recent Economic Developments. Washington: IMF CGCED-81-23, March 12, 1981.

----- (1981) Grenada - Staff Report for the 1980 Article IV Consultation . Washington: IMF SM/81/55, March 12, 1981 with corrections to May 7, 1981.

UNCTAD (1980) The Food Processing Sector in Developing Countries: Some Recent Trends in the Transfer and Development of Technology. Vienna: U.N. Commission for Trade and Development, TD/B/C.6/66, October 14, 1980.

UWI (1980) Grenada: Unemployment, Employment and Household Survey, 1980. Trinidad: Department of Economics, University of the West Indies.

World Bank (1979) Current Economic Position and Prospects of Grenada. Washington: World Bank Report No.2434-GRD, April 19, 1979.

----- (1982) Economic Memorandum on Grenada. Washington: World Bank Report No.3825-GRD, August 4, 1982.