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!!!!