Heaimwantie Persaud, known as ‘Kavita’, tends to her crops daily. Her Monday to Friday schedule is rigid. She rises in the wee hours to prepare her family for the day. Having ensured that her two children are set for school she departs home.
By sunrise, Kavita is already labouring on her farm, reaping, planting or preparing land.
Her farm is situated at Hope, East Coast Demerara. Though accessible by road, the 32-year-old farmer prefers to use a small engine boat. Navigating along the creek saves time, an important factor in her daily operations. She also operates simple farm machines such as pumps, rotavator and blower.
“As a woman you have to be strong if you want the best for your children. I want them to have a good life. I have my farm and my husband has his. We plant different crops. People underestimate the strength of a woman; I work hard. Any one of them machines a man can work I can work them too. I am doing this for my children,” she said.
Kavita grew up in Mahaica Creek, a farming community. She moved to Hope after marriage. Farming is not just her primary economic activity but a way of life. She prides herself as a hardworking and dedicated farmer and this is reflected in her usual bountiful harvests.
“Right now I have two acres bearing garden and two acres young garden. All like next two weeks I will begin reaping around 1,000 pounds of carilla, 300 bundles bora, 200 pints fine pepper and 500 pounds of ochro,” Persaud said confidently.
Like many cash crop farmers, Kavita sells her produce to hucksters. She sometimes retails from home but owing to time constraints prefers to sell her produce in bulk.
“I have a good relationship with the wholesalers. When I have produce they come and buy off. Sometimes I get a good price other times is a low cost. But whatever the price I get I don’t be unfair to my employees because they are good to me.
“They come on time because they understand I am busy. So I would make sure I pay them even if that means I get a smaller amount. I don’t mind because most times you make money,” Kavita related.
Kavita also operates a plant shop. She is a member of the Hope Estate Women’s Group. She is one of 18 women who have benefited from a project geared at improving the livelihood of women in the community.
“Even though I have my own farm I decided to join the group and be part of this project. I wanted the exposure of planting under shade, planting other new crops such as onion, and new techniques.
“I would hear about NAREI promoting shade house so I wanted to see the difference,” Kavita said.
According to Mr. Rickey Roopchand, Hope Estate Manager, the project started last year. It is a joint initiative with Promotion of Regional Opportunities for Produce through Enterprises and Linkages (PROPEL) with support from the Government of Canada.
He said the estate has arable lands that could be put under cultivation. As such, two acres of land was allotted to the women’s group for this income generating venture. Each member is allotted plots that are covered with shade plastic. The women plant different crops such as onions, peppers, pak choi and celery.
The project was designed to build the capacity of farmers, with respect to shaded technology, whilst demonstrating the financial benefits of same. Kavita believes that the project is achieving its objectives. In the meantime, she is considering transforming part of her open field operations to a shade house.
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