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A seed of verse in Portland - Seed Fi Seeds Exchange makes gains at Dis Poem Festival

Published:Sunday | March 19, 2017 | 12:00 AMMel Cooke
Poet Ras Takura
Ras Takura is the producer of DisPoem Wordz and Agro Festival, which will see patrons exchanging organic seeds.

With the name Dis Poem Wordz and Agro Festival, naturally, words are central to the Portland event, which started in 2011. For the 2017 staging, though, the event's founder, poet Ras Takura, is placing special emphasis on the Agro Festival element.

And he is especially adamant about the Seed Fi Seeds Exchange, which facilitates the transfer of organic seeds among persons who attend the event on Sunday, April 30, at the Neville Antonio Park in Port Antonio.

"Seed Fi Seeds Exchange is the practice of exchanging natural ital organic seeds that are certified non-GMO seeds," Ras Takura said.

GMO stands for genetically modified organisms, so the seeds have been permanently altered from their natural state.

The call is for third-generation natural seeds, which means they should be the product of three consecutive crops being reaped from the same original stock. Takura said this ensures that the seeds are organic as even if GMO seeds reproduce after the first crop, the seeds are weak and will not produce a third generation of plants. So persons taking seeds to Dis Poem Wordz and Agro Festival 2017 are advised by the organisers to "collect only seeds that are mature, free from the use of chemical pesticides, GM contamination and those that are third generation seeds and older".




There will be four categories. Dry seeds normally grow in pods and include peas, corn, cannabis, peanuts, and rice. Wet seeds often grow in the flesh of fruits such as melon, pumpkin, tomato, mangoes and ackee. Suckers include bananas, plantain, coconut, and sugar cane; while yam, sweet-potato, dasheen, coco, and ginger are among the tubers.

The exchange began in 2014, and Ras Takura is especially encouraged by last year's response. Now, he expects that farmers of organic plants, persons who save seeds from those plants, and organic seed breeders to be involved in the exchange. Among the seeds he is expecting are the 32833 Variety/Jamaica Red corn, as well as Jamaican red peas.

"I was very excited last year, out of all the times we had people carrying seeds and participating in the exchange. There will be a booth space with a table and chairs for people to collect the seeds, repackage them, and distribute," he said.

People who do not carry any seeds to the festival can still get seeds at the event.

"We know that it is not everyone who wants seeds will have some to carry with them," he said. There is no charge for the seed exchange, although there will be an admission fee to the festival.

Ras Takura addresses food matters on his Food War album with tracks such as Jamaican Food and Put Down the Gun, the latter proposing farming as an alternative. He has also performed in the USA at events against GMO seeds, including a March Against Mosato in New York and Washington, DC, in 2013, as well as the San Diego Seed Swap in California in 2016.

For the agricultural part of the festival, Takura is expecting to have castor oil, cane juice, natural drinks, and cannabis-related products, among other produce.

The confirmed performers at the 2017 Dis Poem Wordz and Agro Festival so far are Cherry Natural, Pat Clarke, Charlie Bobus, Michael Abrahams, No-Maddz, Cue Kirk, Mutabaruka, Ras Malekot, DYCR, Ginsu, and Neto Meeks.