Farming is my life - Speed
PORT ANTONIO, Portland:
Uneducated but determined to make a difference, 52-year-old Derron Speed can be seen digging away at the mother earth daily to grow crops as a means of survival.
Speed, who is popularly known as 'Black Dust', hails from one of the most depressed communities in Portland, Stony Hill, where there is little or no economic activity to assist the population.
"The Bible said that by the sweat of your brow, you shall eat bread," said Speed.
"And I am a living testimony to that. I am a proud farmer who believes in hard work. And once I am able to put food on the table, I am good to go. I attended school for a few weeks at the most, as my parents simply didn't have money to send me full-time. I listen a lot and therefore I am able to learn from the teachings of others. Farming is my life and it has been a long struggle for me. However, I have not given up hope, and I will continue to provide food for the people of my community," he added.
A day in the life of the farmer involves him getting up about 5:30 a.m. to feed his pigs and take his goats out to pasture. By 6:15 a.m., Speed starts his four-mile journey to Shotover, where he spends almost the entire day planting seasonal crops and others, including yam, plantain, banana, peas, corn, pak choy, Scotch bonnet pepper, tomato, and pumpkin.
By late afternoon, he returns home to complete a full day's work by tending to his backyard farm, which comprises cabbage, okra and other forms of crop.
The fruits of his labour are sold to residents, nearby schools, vendors, and shops. Speed noted that a large portion of his backyard crop is distributed among his neighbours evenly and free of cost, which is his way of showing
Speed added: "Survival is the key for me. I don't believe in handouts and I simply cannot beg. And, therefore, I have to work hard, and farming allows me to feed myself and others. I hope that others will use me as an example and stop complaining about nothing not happening. I am involved in farming which ,to me, is a special job. And that job is to feed the people."