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Farming slows in Guy's Hill

Published:Saturday | April 24, 2010 | 12:00 AM
Raphael Minott carefully prunes his cabbages. - Ian Allen/Photographer

Nadisha Hunter, Gleaner Writer

Farming in Guy's Hill, St Catherine, is not as profitable as it used to be.

Seventy-year-old Raphael Minott who has been riding the forks for more than 40 years said he had earned all he owned from the trade.

"I don't know about any other work, everything I have, I earned from farming," he said.

The farmer boasted about the many crops he had planted over the years. According to Minott, much of his day was dedicated to maintaining the crops.

"I planted a lot of crops, things like yam, dasheen and many others, and I used to plant on a large scale," he said.

Can't manage

Minott also said going to Coronation Market to get his crops sold had been a part of his weekly routine, however, he was now unable to.

"I can't manage the jostle and the long journey to take the things to market. Mi old now so my body nuh up to them tings there now," he said.

Furthermore, he explained, the market for his goods was dwindling, making it harder for him to survive.

"With Coronation Market out of it, I don't have much of an option because Linstead market full so I wouldn't do business good there, and the people them in the community buy too cheap," he lamented.

For Minott, farming has been reduced to something that only provides a hand-to-mouth existence.

"Nothing nah gwaan. Sometimes mi prefer to work for people because mi know mi will get me pay, but the crops them not selling," he said.

However, the farmer said he would not give up all together, especially since he had invested so many years in farming.

"Mi love mi farming cause a years mi a do it, so me can't give it up so easy, mi must cyan work again. But me won't do it so big again," he said.

Edwin Whittaker also does farming in the community, a task he shares with his wife Adasa.

Dissatisfied with business

The elderly couple shares Minott's situation. They, too, have been farming for years but are now dissatisfied with the way business is going.

Whittaker said he was frustrated with the way in which the once-lucrative activity in the community had taken a turn for the worse.

"Nothing not going on now, but we still continue because is it wi earn our living from," he said.

"It might not be a lot as before, but we try to be satisfied. Sometimes coffee, sometimes tea," he noted.

Whittaker is also affected by changing weather conditions.

"Sometimes a hurricane, now a drought. There is always something to damage the crops," he said. "All now I don't recover from the last hurricane."

Whittaker said following Gustav, which damaged his yams and bananas, it took him months to start seeing improvements on his farm.