FARMING equipment, while expensive to obtain, is essential for people who want to seriously invest in agriculture. The Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) recently handed over a tiller to the We Help You-th Farm (WhyFarm) collective to assist with its programme of strengthening community food self-reliance and sustainable agriculture.
WhyFarm is a group of farmers who move from farm to farm every Sunday, exchanging labour and motivation and promoting profit sharing from the farms’ output.
WhyFarm founder Alpha Sennon said, “The tiller is more than just a piece of machinery, but an investment in the economic development, and sustainability of young farmers in particular, as the high cost of labour is a challenge."
IICA-TT representative Diana Francis said that investing in productive and sustainable farming at the community level is critical to support national efforts to boost local food production.
“The provision of this tiller to WhyFarm is part of IICA’s special support to strengthen community food self-reliance given threats to food security as a result of the covid19 pandemic. Achieving sustainable agriculture, resilient rural communities and food and nutrition security is beyond the capacity of any institution. There is need for commitment and collective action among all levels of actors. Non-government and community-based groups such as WhyFarm can be pivotal and must be enabled.”
She said the support provided to WhyFarm began five years ago to the month.
AgriMan – the world’s first food security and nutrition superhero, created by WhyFarm, encourages people to farm and help solve challenges in agriculture and food security. His mission is to save the world from the villains of food waste and loss by building an army of young farmers and agriculture-savvy youth.
“WhyFarm and AGRIman were introduced to the local agriculture sector and a group of primary schoolers at IICA’s office in St Augustine. IICA continues to support WhyFarm which in turn multiplies this benefit by supporting. Providing the tiller will enhance the efficiency in doing what they do best as the collective moves from farm to farm.”
The hand-over was done at a five-acre community garden in Sangre Grande being developed by resident Akiel Browne. He said until he met WhyFarm, he was farming on his own. He said he expects to be able to plant more in less time with support from the WhyFarm collective, which is currently 25 strong and growing.
“I did not grow up in agriculture, but I understand the importance of agriculture and I am now trying to lead from the front, in this area in particular, especially because children in the area are taking an interest and want to know more.”
Also present at the handover were 12 young community residents who work the farm after school, planting, watering and tending to the crops and a few sheep, goats and chickens. The ochroes they planted were used in the AGRIman callaloo pack launched by the collective in October. Browne has linked and extended the value of the farm to a home-based bottled juice and coconut water, branded as Nutrish’Us, using fruits grown on the farm, produced and sold by the young members within the community.
Francis said, “The ultimate message from this handover is that a relatively small institutional gesture, coupled with peer-to-peer support can help to bridge the age and technology gaps in farming. This is essential for inclusive, resilient and food-secure rural communities.”
WhyFarm can be found on Facebook and Instagram as well as at http://www.findglocal.com/TT/Siparia-Village/428486520668298/WHYFARM