....Organic rice expensive but healthier
While the organic rice being produced by the Rastafari Sankofa Eco Warriors in Hanover might be more expensive than regular rice because of the way it is produced, it is easily the preferred option for persons seeking to eat healthily, in terms of staying away from genetically modified (GM) foods .
According to the principals at the Rastafari Sankofa Eco Warriors, the demand for 'Rastafarice' is great, especially among health enthusiasts and members of the Rastafari and Seventh-day Adventist faiths. Food distributors in neighbouring Haiti are also said to be expressing an interest.
"The amount of people who are demanding the rice, we can't meet it," said Ras Danny, a farmer aligned to the Rastafari Sankofa Eco Warriors, which is based in the Cauldwell community in Hanover. "A lot of people, Rasta people, people from the Binghi House, want the rice. Anywhere there is a gathering of Rasta, they want this type of rice. We don't have hand to sell this rice. The health shops, the ital shops, and, even down in Lucea, the Seventh-day Adventist shop, they are waiting on our rice."
In noting that factors such as the manpower and manual labour required to produce organic rice make it more expensive in the market, Ras Dawit, who is one of the primary players in the production of Rastafarice, noted that because of the great demand for the rice, producing it is a profitable exercise.
"It's very profitable; very lucrative because there is a big market for rice. The organic rice is more expensive because it takes a lot more manpower and manual labour in the field as you don't spray down the grass and so forth, so you have to hire more hands," the Rastafarian said.
"but when it comes to making a profit, there is no loss if you yield what you set out to. If you put your hand to it, you will bring what you intended to do off of each acreage," he explained.
With a vision of creating a strong industry out of rice cultivation, the farmers in the Rastafari Sankofa Eco Warriors organisation are now taking steps to purchase a sealer as well as erect its own packaging house at a nearby location. However, there is a major drawback as the absence of a rice mill in Hanover drives up the cost of the product. the nearest available mill is in Westmoreland.
"It is costly to mill the rice right now, so it would suit you to have your own mill. The mill is in Westmoreland does the rice at $13 per pound," said Ras Dawit. "We need a mill, but it is costly right now."
despite the challenges, especially in regards to acquiring their own mill, the Rastafari Sankofa Eco Warriors are moving steadfast into the future as they have much faith in the viability of Rastafarice.