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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.


 
           

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Rally 'round the???

     There has been a lot of talk surrounding the Trinidad and Guyana "agricultural lands deal" and I listened to both sides of the debate and only then I understood why the Federation had failed. I tried to keep my lips sealed and my opinion to myself, and I have been successful up until now...
   
    We are a selfish people. Who hides under the facade of nationalistic pride and pretends that we are all about putting country first. While I have no issue with that of patriotism, I strongly believe that in addressing the issue of food security, the pride we should have is that in the ability to feed ourselves as a region. It has been discussed too many times that one country, one island, cannot do it alone. The need for combined efforts and resources is necessary for reducing hunger in our country and across the Caribbean. We must consciously decide on which premise we operate. We cannot win this by ourselves. If we intend to win a battle on local soil and lose the war ultimately,  we are wasting time. The concept of "Indirect food security" should be pushed. Guyana, because of its acreage is able to produce a commodity in greater quantities. For instance, Guyana could cultivate rice, whilst Trinidad does animal production. This would mean that we would be better able to lock regional markets and reduce foreign imports while feeding home.
   
    Tell me which picture you are looking at? The mere fact that our region and our economies are so vulnerable to disaster should cause us to forge ahead with a regional integration like we have never seen. If we have not yet started seeing ourselves through global eyes, we are blind.
 
   So as I calm myself, and allow my blood pressure to regain normalcy, I sip meditatively on a cup of tea made from Soursop leaves.


Friday, 13 September 2013

I AM AGRICULTURE

    Recently, a fellow blogger made a passionate plea for individuals to do their just dues in the promotion of the agricultural sector http://fortunatelyweagri.blogspot.com/2013/08/random-rambling-about-youth-involvement.html. I asked myself whether I was doing enough to change the perception of agriculture on the island, in the country and across the region. Was I encouraging youth and women participation in this very dynamic and potentially highly lucrative sector? The grief was about to consume me, when I remembered.
 
      I remembered my grandfather who was a farmer. Laboured in the land from sunrise to sunset. My mother, who was still a child, provided additional labour and was in most instances, along with her siblings, the transportation for the produce from the farm to market. My grandmother was the sales person and middleman. She made her way to market every Friday and Saturday to sell the produce. And  so it continued all my life. Though the characters changed, and fancy props were added,the script remained the same.

       Now while it may be said that this personal ranting does not address the larger issue, I can say that we are the ones responsible for agriculture being negatively labeled. We who know better will seldom go out of our way to promote the industry. We allow people to continue with the negative mindset they have of the sector. We allow persons to gnaw away at who we are, from where we have come and the values that we hold true. We allow society to nullify our existence and contributions to the growth and development of any nation. We discard our heritage, our history and our identities.  We are ashamed to call ourselves farmers. So, like little Jack Horner, we sit in a corner and allow the masses to eat the essence of the sector away.
   
      When we are able to touch someone, young or old and show them that agriculture is all that it is and can be, we take a step. When we tear down the barriers that cause us to feel embarrassed to sell our own produce, we move closer. When we cease from seeing agriculture as "slave wuk" and understand that we are no longer slaves but individuals that are gainfully self-employed, we leap. When we are able to see the bigger picture and the importance of "me" in the development of our country/ region, we grow. When we can post proudly on all our social media pages the words "I AM AGRICULTURE!" and sincerely mean it, only then we start making progress.
 
 
      To the budding farmers, marketing reps, salespersons -agropreneurs, I tip my hat or remove my headphones, whichever is best suited, as I sip on Basil tea.



Sunday, 8 September 2013

Raynard Burnside: Siphiwe Honey Gold Farm and Reserve


'Through perseverance many people win success out of what seemed destined to be certain failure.' ( Benjamin Disrael) 
  
    Nothing ever said could have been truer about this 'AgriFootsoldier' and that alone gives me great pleasure to introduce Mr. Raynard Burnside of the Bahamas. 
   
  After graduating beautifully adorned from the University of the West Indies with a BSc in Agribusiness Management and a MSc in Tropical Animal Science and Production one would have expected that on return to his homeland Raynard would have been pursued by employers, however it was the contrary. With a recession hanging over his country and high unemployment figures Raynard journeyed to Costa Rica where he completed a one month Professional development Scholarship programme course titled “Hunger, Famine and Food Security at United Nations University for Peace. Every interview that this young man lined up for he was overly-qualified or inexperienced. 

    With a burning desire to move up in life, he felt as if his life had been placed on hold for another year. He wanted to get married and move out of his maternal home, but the brother was broke. He knew that behind every successful man there is a woman and whether it is considered sheer luck or a stroke of ingenuity Raynard, the mover he is, proposed to and married his girlfriend. He now had the woman, so the successes we bound to follow! He entered an international business plan competition, where he presented an innovative agricultural business plan and emerged winner in his category.

  
    Siphiwe Honey Gold Farm and Preserve is an agro-ecotourism destination situated in the southern region of The Bahamas, located on the eastern region of Rum Cay Island that occupies twelve acres of undisturbed family-owned land. It is the only green certified agro-ecotourism business in The Bahamas, which is entirely a solar powered efficient farm and preserve. The business offers an environmental education learning resource center acting as a major public access facility for Bahamians and tourists to learn and experience organic farming, beekeeping and crop production with the facility of on-farm stays with 4 environmentally-friendly agro-eco lodges. Additionally, the farm and preserve has outreach programmes and activities that is designed to make learning interactive and fun, covering Bahamian biodiversity, cultural and natural history of the flora and fauna on the island.


    As we commend the sterling efforts made by this footsoldier,we wish him all the best in his endeavours as he does his part in acheiving food security and share his story over a cup of Bayleaf tea! 



(Photo courtesy google)

Friday, 30 August 2013

Bitter In Your Mouth

 To stand out and be counted! The burdens carried by our youths are heavy. What weighs down even more upon our shoulders is the ignorance and general unwillingness of some to mould, support and encourage our future leaders. I met a young man and I was moved to tears by this plight. This post meets me angered, confused and disheartened.

     Reynaldo, unlike most young men of my island seeks independence. Not to contribute to the dependency syndrome pandemic. Realizing the importance of food security in any society, this true Agrifootsoldier, decided to make his contribution to society at the most basic level- food production. He sought the teaching of farming veterans on the island  and, if that was not enough, acquired training in agriculture in the Youth Apprenticeship Programme in Agriculture.

     Excited and rearing to go, this graduate found himself caught in the web of  bureaucracy. Where was he going to farm? Where was he going to source the much needed capital to set up his holdings? Without legal titles to any lands he is unable to move forward. The red-tapes within the system and lack of internal networking among Divisions has left this soldier down and despondent. For Tobago agriculture to improve, we must find a way to eliminate the unnecessary delay and bridge the gap as we fight for those who are willing to fight for country and self.

     In our world today, most of our youths can be considered 'at risk'. Let us encourage our young ones to climb out of the barrel and contribute meaningfully to societies. To fight this illness I prescribe a cup of Zebapique tea.


Photo courtesy Google





Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Let's Drink to That!

     There is something extraordinary in being a West Indian. There are so many things that we ought to be proud of. We are a unique people with similarities that make us different and stand out from the rest. I am West Indian!
 
   For the next few blogs, in addition to my weekly post about issues regarding the sector, I am seeking to highlight the efforts made by our "Agrifootsoldiers" the region over. From the Bahamas to Guyana, I find and celebrate our young agriculturists for believing in self and sector.
 
   Join with me and sip on some Bush Tea as we pay tribute to our Youths In and For Agriculture.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

I Fight !

   With World Food Day 2013 fast approaching, agriculturists, stakeholders and consumers, have their eyes focused on the Agricultural sector once  again.  The theme for this year's celebration as announced by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations "Sustainable Food Systems for Food Security and Nutrition, is very thought provoking.

     Food systems speak to every detail that goes into the production and consumption of food. The global population has been estimated to reach figures of over nine billion in the year 2050. In 2013, it is now very necessary that in our thrust to achieve food security, we function in a manner that does not bring about the depletion or destruction of our resources, upon which we so heavily rely.

     In the past few decades a global stance was taken to initiate a  change in the way we protect our environment. From recycling to watershed management, efforts are being made to reduce our carbon footprints. We within this sector, are called upon to bring about this change. We need be conscious of the way we grow, process, package, transport, store,consume and dispose of our food. As agriculturists, it is important that we adopt healthy food systems and encourage those around us to do the same.
 
   As we do all within our power to fight hunger and alleviate poverty, we must do so in a manner that is sustainable and gives hope to posterity. Let us pool our resources and have meaningful dialogue over a cup of Lime-bud Tea!

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Crop is Over!


   I boarded the airline in Barbados, destination homeward bound. I was happy to go home. Excited. Agriculture never felt this good to me.

   I sat on my farm plot this morning as I watched my field of melon being irrigated and I asked myself: How can I do more in achieving food security? How am I going to be apart of the movement that works towards "Sustainable Food Systems for Food Security and Nutrition"- theme of World Food Day 2013. As the ideas flowed in, the need for cooperation cannot be emphasized enough. We need to build and maintain networks if we are to affect a change regionally.

   The training received in ICTS in Agriculture has allowed me to see all that can be achieved in this very dynamic sector. We need cooperation and human effort to bring about this change. To be as beacons and light the way for self and others to follow.

   As the curtains come down in Barbados, we prepare a stage for a bigger, better performance. One where young people take leading roles in this sector. The Crop may be Over in Barbados but the work has begun across the Caribbean.
   So as we ready ourselves to take up the mantle let us reflect with a cup of  Vervine Tea!!


 
Picture taken from quentrall.com


Sunday, 28 July 2013

Barbados Feels Good

Barbados feels good. So I inna dat.

When ever I get the chance to see my region I jump at it. When that same opportunity avails me to meet and network with farmers across the region its a Double Whammy!! Training in ICTS is necessary within the sector should we endeavour to develop the industry. The UWI, Cave Hill offered their resources to twenty-five young agriculturists to use the tools of Web2.0 such as blogging to allow for easy dissemination of information, call others to action, raise awareness, participate in online conversations and build networks.

As this five day training progresses, we share ideas and experiences about who we are, our intended life paths and our way forward as agriculturists. So mek we doh share it over a cup ah Lemon Grass Tea!

#caribbeanagriweb2

Picture taken from usefulplants.co.uk