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Agriculture’s BCD

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This week began well, Rain. The soil, the crops and other plants, the animals and rivers are glad. And farmers too, give thanks; chanting vigorously with hoe, scoop, cutlass, plough and other instruments. Yes, we blessed. Of course we are in a season of agricultural distress also. The price we receive for banana exported to England is lower than the money we spend to produce the crop. Our sweet potatoes now sell at 1/3 of the price it used to be 4 months ago. This week has begun well to encourage us to face the challenges that encircle us.{{more}}

And so we take a look at our agriculture as it will be in the future. As I see it, cocoa and other tree crops will be important to farmers and to the nation’s economy. Arrowroot and other root crops can develop with applied research. Vegetables will flourish along with livestock; and processing, manufacturing and agro hospitality will increasingly contribute high value richer products and services. That is how it will be ten years down the road, but how do we get there from the deep hole of stress we are in here and now.

Break the ceiling

Many home owners have raised the roofs of their houses; tearing down the ceiling, adding up to six rows of blocks, redesigning the roof and buckling it into the concrete works. They have thus improved the ventilation, security and aesthetics of the home. Farmers and agriculture have a low ceiling over our heads and we must break it down. We need more space as a class of working people who produce food and other good products and services. These are some of the ways by which we can break the ceiling that is holding down agriculture.

When we produce our farm goods, we must sell only half of it as raw produce. The rest we must present in a form that has more value in it. Ground provisions, for example, can be vacuum packed or given other shelf life extension: ginger and saffron, we can grind them; cocoa we can process it into many valuable products; coconuts too… We must not wait at the roadside for a buyer to come for our agriculture produce. That is one way to break the ceiling.

Another way to break the ceiling that keeps us down, is to manage a savings and investment agency of our own, or one that we have joint equity in. A bank, a credit union, an insurance business… We scatter our finances in many different pieces in different places so that we don’t even know how much we are worth. Break down that ceiling. It keeps us down in poverty. Are we ready to raise that roof? In order to break the ceiling and raise our agriculture roof; we must scale ourselves together to become bigger and reach higher.

Climbing the scale

In West Africa, cocoa growers claim that in their cooperatives they can bargain for higher price for their cocoa, because they negotiate together as one. They have climbed the scale from being one-one farmers to become one larger scale business. Climbing the scale saves us money for inputs and processes like vacuum packing or fermenting or transport to the port. More than that, increasing the scale puts us in a better position to set the prices for our produce.

Climbing the scale or putting our resources together is the only way to break the ceiling and raise our roof in an effective money pool or saving and investment agency. As we know, a sou-sou or “hands” is a higher scale saving investment over a short period of time. If we climbed the scale higher with 4000 farmers in the sou-sou, when your hand comes in, you could really do something with it, especially if the ‘something’ is a project you are doing along with other members.

From where we are now in an agriculture depression, in 10 years i.e. by 2022, if we break the ceiling now and start to climb the scale now, we will see our future in rich green colors. Yet, I would like us to see the future as a gift that we pass on to our children.

Draw in the children

Draw the children into agriculture, not later when ting look rosy. Draw them in now to help ‘rose up’ the future of agriculture. Do you know, and can you tell them about the new directions that agriculture and farming are taking? Agro-hospitality; agro-ceuticals; trade in special crops; ecological agriculture and food science. Yes the ceiling over agriculture in our society needs to break up. Let our children help to raise the roofs, climb the scale and rejuvenate the profession. Look out for the agriculture fair on SVG agriculture day in August.

The emancipation of Agriculture is coming.

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