Fri | Sep 21, 2018

Annicka Grant: Powerhouse in agriculture

Published:Monday | March 26, 2018 | 12:00 AMRocheda Bartley

It is said if you do what you love, you will never work a day in your life. The pressures would be fewer and absolutely we will be more satisfied with our accomplishments, whether they are epic or trivial. For you, that could be singing, crafting or photography.

But for Annicka Grant, it's agriculture, a love she has never been able to part from.

Grant is a livestock attendant at the Copperwood farm in St Catherine and has grown to change the face of agriculture. Pictures may speak a thousand words, but a day in Grant's life is all you need to witness the prowess and the strengths of this woman.

Growing up in Mocho, Clarendon, Grant was captivated by the pleasures of agriculture since she was a toddler. With both of her parents being farmers, backyard farming became the norm for her and formed the backbone of her liking for the art. She admits, though, that her life in agriculture is not all joy.

"As a woman in agriculture, my greatest challenge is gender inequality. Men believe that because I am a woman I cannot do the job. But my experience at Copperwood is excellent. Each day I learn a lot," she told Flair.

When asked how she proves her competence to her male counterparts she simply replied, "I just simply do the job."

Today, Grant manages the Nucleus Farrowing Barn at Copperwood. Squealing piglets and grunting pigs are sounds that encapsulate her days. Each day that she treks to work, you will see her confidently striding into Copperwood ready to tend to over 50 pigs and numerous piglets, which she solely cares for.

She gets most of her work done in cool enclosed, yet smelly spaces called farrowing rooms. It's a job many of us would shun, but she appreciates it and seamlessly executes her tasks while incredibly demonstrating the agricultural champion she is.

 

DUTIES

 

Working at the Copperwood farm for roughly three and half years, Grant has learnt to skilfully manipulate her work environment and achieve the best results from her labour. Her daily duties include processing newborn piglets, feeding the animals, and preparing sows to farrow (give birth). A pig's gestation period lasts for 115 days, a period that Grant eagerly awaits to pass by in order to nurse and prepare the sows for a safe delivery.

"The animals are sent to me to prepare them for farrowing in a freshly sanitised room, three to five days before their due date. At this time, I would clean the pens and place a heat lamp as close as possible to the back of the sow to mimic the environment which the piglets are coming from and make them feel comfortable. After this, I would place a heat mat below the lamp," she explained.

Processing is Grant's favourite duty and it's an intricate procedure, which she has mastered over the years. Docking tails, clipping teeth, removing the naval chord from the piglets, and marking the animals for identification purposes are some of the essentials involved in processing the animals.

 

RESILIENCE

 

Working diligently to ensure each animal is in good health and that the equipment in the farrowing rooms is properly functioning is a key factor that helps to build Grant's resilience on the job. At the end of each day, she leaves the farm feeling exhausted. Though she is tired, successfully completing each day of work is one of her greatest accomplishments, a self-fulfilling moment.

She sees agriculture as more than the cultivation of food and the breeding of animals, but also a channel to reach to greater heights. With this in mind, she implores other women to invest in agriculture and reap its benefits.

"Agriculture is a stepping stone, so use it to get to where you want to go. My job is not easy, but caring for those animals and watching them grow is the best thing for me," she said.