Let me congratulate the Folk Research Centre – its founders, Directors and Members for their tested allegiance to the heritage of our people, and their work in preserving the culture of our forefathers.
The work of the Folk Research Centre is of particular importance today, during the age of globalization when foreign cultures and influences can no longer be censored – we have to compete with these influences by examining our culture and ensuring that our cultural offerings are attractive to the younger generation.
When I was informed that Baron Foods had embarked on this innovative venture with the Folk Research Centre, I was not surprised. Baron Foods and its Manager, Mr. Ronald Ramjattan did not become one of the most successful industrial manufacturing concerns in St. Lucia by chance. Progress was possible with planning strategic interventions, hard work, and an enabling environment but most of all it is the ability of the manager to create opportunity.
Baron Foods line of business is highly competitive both at a local and regional level. The company competition can come from the housewife engaged in a cottage type concern or a large firm operating in a neighbourhood Caricom country. Success is due to the ability of the company to use creativity to pursue its goals.
This strategic alliance with the Folk Research Centre is the first of its type in the island, and can serve as a model for the creative use of culture and commerce. At a glance the two may seem not compatible, but on reflection we can establish a strong linkage.
Culture is a universal concept that touches the life of all people in one way or another. Creole culture in particular has its own constituency with its unique language and characteristics. If Commerce can use culture through advertisement to market its products, then a large part of the population can be influenced. The Baron Foods Bouyon ek Kalalou aims at using local products in the preparation of two traditional dishes – the linkage is clear and the message powerful.
Let me suggest Mr. Chairman that we can create or re-engineer our buy local campaign by using popular culture to send messages to our people. These days the use of the tools of protection are almost impossible. Organizations like the WTO ensure that rules and regulations make it difficult for small States to support their industries. It is imperative that we in St. Lucia support local enterprises by buying locally produced goods and services. This venture with Baron Foods augurs well for the future. Our cultural talent must be used as a strategic economic asset in its contemporary form and as a form of marketing locally grown and produced products.
Many similarities can be found between culture and manufacturing and commerce. To be successful, both must be packaged properly. The element of competition is relevant since both are exposed to foreign commodities and a variety of choices are available to consumers. What this means is that, consumers have to be convinced to make the right choice. Baron Foods is ensuring that the choice is their products by creating that similarity between culture and their use of products. I applaud that vision and hope that other business concerns will follow in the future.
Let me thank Baron Foods for their continued contribution to the economy of St. Lucia and hope that new ideas will emerge from this concept that will cause the advancement of culture and commerce.
Congratulations to Boots Samuel and the Folk Research Centre on their celebration of Heritage Week and I wish them all the best in the future.
I thank you.
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