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Saturday, 1 November 2014

The Meeting

It was Plato who said; 'Wise men speak because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something.'

But I, on that day, had nothing to say.

And he stressed that it is important to encourage youths, but more so young women in agriculture. For them to have more prominence in the sector. And I wanted to scream. To perch atop my lungs and scream.

But I, on that day, had nothing to say.

And he argued that youths must create they own space and not wait upon the older heads to make that space for them. For them to be creative. And I wanted to scream. To perch atop my lungs and scream.

But I, on that day, had nothing to say.

And he alluded to the need for youths to sit on regional policy-making boards to help direct and contribute to these critical decisions within the sector. For them to be included in the decision and policy making process. And I wanted to scream. To perch atop my lungs and scream.

But I, on that day, still had nothing to say.

And he continued, that youth need to be revolutionary, stating emphatically that "change can only take place from the inside". For them to be bold and speak out. And I wanted to scream. Instead I took a deep breath and smiled.

In reading this post, you have noticed the long, boring repetitions and probably thought that I would have repeated the same lines one time too many. But like this post, these same issues and solutions in agriculture have been said over and over again.

I have realized that the problems facing the agricultural sector within this region can be fixed. Yes agrifootsoldiers, surprisingly they can. However, if the solutions do not come from a source that has a Master's in Agricultural Economics, they would not be considered. The hypocrisy of some to look me in the face and speak of these things loudly when he himself was annoyed by my utterances. To speak of change and inclusion and space and revolution. I shake my head in disbelief. Some people welcome change so long as nothing changes.

It was Dennis Brown who sang the lyrics; " Do you know what it means to have a revolution? And what it takes to make a solution? Fighting against oppression?"

 Stand up and be counted Agrifootsoldiers!!!!


Saturday, 18 October 2014

I AM NOT AFRAID!!!!

    I didn't have the urge to write for a while, still I continued the fight as an Agrifootsoldier, representing the interest of youth and women in the Caribbean.   In the recently concluded Caribbean Week of Agriculture, I came face to face with an ugly reality and for my statements I make no apologies.

   At the General Alliance meeting held on the 08th October, 2014 the Minister of Agriculture, Suriname presented a Feature Address "Family Farming- The Case of Suriname" in which he quoted some statistics on the agricultural sector in Suriname. He stated that 3% of the farming population of his country is under the age of 25. These statistics were supported by the Chairman, Hon. Roland Bhola; Minister of Agriculture- Grenada, as he indicated that these figures can be representative of the entire region.

And everything was going fine until I felt a burning desire within myself to say something. To say something for the youth. To say something for the women.To say something for the sector.

  In reality, youths especially, have not been adequately represented in the agricultural sector and the challenges that we face on a day to day basis make it even more difficult to bring about the change we desire within the sector and sadly this is translated in the 3% of young farmers in the 'region'. However, when I looked around the room, I asked the question what is the average age of our decision and policy makers? To further add insult to injury, 2014 was declared the International Year of Family Farming, yet still little to no emphasis has been placed on strengthening and developing youth and women in  agriculture.

On paper, we seldom forget to include youth and women, however is never translates into our realities. Across the region the cries are the same but it feels as these cries are being muted because no-one seems to hear.... or care.....

       Now for the interesting part!
One LADY, had the audacity to say to me that I need to know my place as a Woman in certain Forums!!!! In 2014, that is the kind of support I would receive from a woman.... but she is only one. Many of those who took offense to my statements found that my comments were too strong and should have been more subtle and nicely said. The truth in itself has a way of offending. Let us be real: There is nothing nice about poverty. There is nothing diplomatic in malnutrition. There is absolutely nothing subtle about hunger. So until we could be bold and honest about the realities we face every single day, I will never censor my words. I will never be political or diplomatic about these very critical issues. NEVER!!!!!

To my Agrifootsoldiers who stand with me, I am not concerned about those who stand against me. I will continue to speak up and out for youth and women in agriculture, for I AM NOT AFRAID!!!!

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Feeling PROUD

 Today, the Agribusiness Society of the University of the West Indies (ABS) stands out and is worthy of emulation. 

When I met the current President of ABS, Alpha Sennon, a few months ago, I was impressed by his love and passion for agriculture. He stood out to me because we were expressing the same desires for the sector and the need for youth involvement. What shocked me even more, was the fact that not only are we from the same country, but we attend the same university and same campus. So I asked myself, what were the odds that there existed young persons like myself, like Alpha, who share the passion for agriculture and yearn to see its development a mere five minutes walk away?
 Later that evening, I set out in search of Agrifootsoldiers. Youths, who were driven, intelligent, diligent, honest, motivated and beaming with enthusiasm, and I stumbled across the Agribusiness Society. The joy that I felt in my heart, cannot be expressed in words when I met the members of this group.

The Agribusiness Society of the UWI, was founded by the students and operates for the development of its members. It has worked assiduously in building a name for itself and has partnered with some of the most respected entities within the agricultural sector. The annual study tour, has allowed students to avail themselves to hands-on training within their field of study. In years gone by, the study tour has been held in Grenada, St. Vincent, Jamaica, Suriname and Guyana which allows for regional integration and networking.

This year, ABS, proposes to take the study tour to the islands of Dominica and St. Lucia, as they seek to analyse the "Success and Failures of Agricultural Diversification Strategies"- theme of the study tour- as it relates to the removal of preferential treatment. It is crucial that as agriculturalists, we pay particular attention to the events of home and in the region.

With 2014 being announced as the International year of Family Farming, I note the relevance of this study. Not only do we need to view it from  an economic standpoint, but to ascertain how farm families are coping with this major move and the advent of the EU/CARIFORUM Agreement.  

I give a standing ovation to the Executive of the Agribusiness Society of the UWI and its members, both present and former, for making the ABS the standout organization it has become. I wish continued success in all their endeavours, trusting that the ABS will continue growing from strength to strength.

Feeling proud, as I have me some Mint tea.




Wednesday, 29 January 2014

We Ready !!

It's been so long and I miss you.  Busy has been the word of the day, and from my Dad's surgeries to exams and projects, the BushTea seemed so far away  but in the words of the great Slim Shady, " Guess who's back?"

   So I just returned from St. Vincent and the Grenadines and some things came clear to me. Firstly, I need to resume blogging. I have been absent and truth be told, I have missed this space where I can speak freely and openly about the things that I am passionate about. The second revelation that I had was that there are quite a few young persons within the sector whose hearts are in the right place. In a conversation I had with my colleagues from Guyana and Grenada, being actively involved in agriculture and the work of the CaFAN, I have a greater appreciation for the sector and as I said to them " I doh feel shame no more when I hustlin." So as I shared my experience with them, as I probably will share with you soon, a lot of who I am today came from a place that I myself didn't know existed within me.

   In the words of Bunji Garlin, I ask: "We Ready? We Ready? For the Sun now raising up and the farmers, well they have already woken up, the agricultural sector full up ah vybz and nothing cyar break it up. The youths dem ah wuk non stop, the entire Caribbean done lock, we aiming for food security and sustainability. "

    Join with me again, as we sip on Christmas Bush tea.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

T'was the day before Christmas!

It has been a very long time since I have made it to my little slice of heaven. Hello Bush Tea!  The last few months have been tedious but we keep on pushing forward. I have so many things in mind that I feel I am about to explode.
   Recently, I came across a newspaper clipping on the work the farmers of Barbados are going as they work towards achieving food security. I wish the farmers there, all the best and sincerely pray that next year, 2014' the International year of Family Farming, would see us closer to our dream of self sustainability and reduced food import bills, the region over.
   To all my farmers, foot soldiers, youths in and for agriculture, have a safe and holy season.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

the Struggle is Real

   Why are we not moved to tears when we think of poverty? Why are we not actively doing something to fight hunger? I am saddened.

    Coming out of the Caribbean Week of Agriculture, we all sat, and spoke of the issues that are plaguing the sector and possible solutions.We dressed nicely; three piece suits, huge grins, full stomachs as we came to talk 'agriculture'. We left the Conference Centre feeling good about ourselves and whatever contributions we made. As I reflected on the discussions had I asked myself of all these participants; Is this just a career? A job? Gainful employment? For the ordinary man in the street is still going without food to eat while we  retire to our lavish four+ star hotels, with mini bars and fresh fruit. And I pondered on the question whether or not we truly care. I met a frail, young man of fifteen years hustling a meal. Not money, but a meal. One that he can share with his grandmother and little brother and this made my heart sink.
   
   On Thursday 17th October, we at the University of the West Indies held a Candle Light Vigil  to "unite against hunger, malnutrition and poverty". I attended. I attended because somewhere in my world, in my hemisphere, my region, my country, there is someone who is counting on me to find a solution to bring them out of their misery. Sadly though, in a university of more than 15,000 students not even 100 persons attended the function. In an institution that caters to and equips the youth of today to change the world we live, many still do not recognize the need to care.
   
   Someone somewhere is hungry. Someone somewhere is malnourished. Someone right here, wants us to put to action all the fancy ideas that we have and bring about a change.
 As we sound the call, we draw the Trumpet Bush.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Octobers' Love

Dear you,
           I know that I have been away for sometime and well the stresses of the past week have been so much. I really wanted to chat with you, have a one on one, because since I have started my blog I didn't say 'thanks.' Thank you for taking the time to read Bush Tea. For posting comments, I really do appreciate them all. So as a small token of my appreciation, I decided to personally write you this letter. You have made my day, my month and have given me 'nuff' to brag about.
          I am confident that we are going to have some really fun times ahead and I am looking forward to that. I have a couple of things I would like to get done and as soon as I do you will be the first to know. So as I start packing my bags to head over to Guyana for Caribbean Week of Agriculture I am going to keep you updated. I am looking forward to a wonderful experience as we share together.
         Be safe, stay good, eat healthy and above all things be happy trusting that, the future will be better than the present. Before I go, I ask that you keep this 'Agrifootsoldier' in your prayers, he may be a little down but my daddy is by no means out.