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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)