Round Table with Oscar
July 3, 2012

Letter Without Envelope To Farmers

Dear Farmers,

I greet you in the name of Jesus, the seed that died so that more seed and more fruit, a greater crop would be ours. The times are rough, but we don’t have to make them rougher than they are. The reason for my open letter without envelope is to warn us that in these times, we have a double mission. We have two works to do. To put it plainly, we have to “hold strain” right now, but we have to “make change” also.{{more}}

You think you know what I mean when I say “hold strain”. Good. This is how we must involve ourselves in this cocoa farming project that is coming from Armajaro in London. “Hold strain”. We mustn’t be too quick to bite when this investor throws us a piece of bait. When a whole set of us jump to catch the bait, the net done set right there to catch all of us. “Hold strain”. First, let us all come together ourselves and pick sense out of this cocoa initiative, this call to follow behind Armajaro Cocoa.

Last Thursday and Friday in Tobago the “Caribbean Fine Cocoa Forum” held its annual meeting to look at how our region is doing in cocoa. News from this forum is important for us and I hope that the Ministry of Agriculture will tell us about it in their radio and TV programs. The Armajaro Company was there too, and next year, our Vincentian cocoa cooperative is planning to attend. Why is it so important to us? It is this forum that looks at cocoa as a growing Caribbean business. Not as an international company business, but as our family business in the region. The cocoa group here would bring us reports from the forum, of what cocoa agribusiness is doing so that we can guide ourselves properly.

Because watch nuh, although it was the French who started cocoa cultivation here around 1760 (252 years ago) and enabled an export crop of 1,000 tons by 1769, the days when an overseas body has to handle cocoa agriculture in SVG done gone. “Hold strain” means let us get our acts together. “Hold weh we Hold” and bring a Vincy cocoa industry to new heights in the next 2 to 3 years or so.

Now, brothers and sisters in the farming community, we have to “make change,” hear me good, because I have some hard words to share. We have to change our ways. During slavery days, the big estate bosses used to say that it was the dirt scratching, enslaved blacks who had the most money in circulation! It wasn’t massa who give them money. They band themselves together to handle their situation. Well this time, it is up to us. Massa would be glad if we just hang around and wait till he throws something out for us. It might be fertilizer, or cocoa plants, or some small change. When I say that we must make a change, I mean, let us stop focus on massa, and focus on organizing ourselves to work together, defend our crops from thieves, look for the best bearing cocoa trees, to get seeds from, build a strong union of all farmers, take a banana recovery plan to the government, to WINFRESH, to FAIRTRADE SVG, to AIW, to all those who talk BIG! And let them know we know what we doing.

And when the times are tough, like during slavery, that we have to organize and innovate. Make a change.

I close this letter with love and blessings. Didn’t our real massa say: “blessed are the poor”? Let us organize our blessings. “Hold strain” “Make Change”.

Oscar Allen