(by Kwesi Isles)
Chief Coordinator of the Caribbean Farmers Network (CaFAN) Jethro Greene says farmers need to take their rightful place atop the power structure.
“Food and water are essential to life, whoever controls food and water actually controls power,” he told participants at a Youth Consultation on Community Agricultural Policy at the Caribbean Week of Agriculture (CWA).
“At the end of the day you can have all the services in the world and I could lock you in a room with a nice computer, nice television set, I will take away your water and your food and you wouldn’t survive for long and I would be out in my hut with my water and my food and I’ll survive.”
Greene says farmers should never underestimate the power of agriculture even though it has been relegated to the lowest rung on the social ladder.
“That is one of the reasons why through the new leadership and the young leadership we want you to bring this to the front, not accepting the fact that agriculture is the lowest of employment.”
According to Greene, there was a conspiracy a long time ago by a cartel of companies to control and manipulate the food market so that farmers, particularly those in the Third World, were relegated to the lowest levels because they never controlled the marketing and distribution of food.
“So what you find is that if you produce a commodity by the time it reach the end consumer the farmer gets so little that at the end of the day his children say daddy what you doing in farming, you’re making nothing.”
The biggest money was in food, Greene declared. He added that farmers must regain the power by getting control of more of the value chain.
“It is your job to think outside the box, not to accept the nonsense that’s been put on us about how agriculture is and how agriculture should be,” he urged the youths, most of whom were from the Guyana School of Agriculture (GSA).
Greene called on the youths to come up with ideas that outlined the things they needed to spur youth interest in agriculture.
The consultation was organised to look at creating an enabling environment for youth in agriculture and at the business opportunities available for them in the sector.