“To a young farmer, I would like to say that if you like what you are doing, keep doing it. No matter what somebody might say as to why you choose farming and that you could have done something else, if you like farming, keep doing it.”
By Allyiah Allicock
Waterfalls Magazine – Looking to contribute to the longevity, sustainability, and food security of the country is 22-year-old Ramiro Persaud, a budding young farmer who hails from Friendship on the East Bank of Demerara (EBD).
During a recent exclusive interview with The Waterfall, Persaud said his farming journey all started at the age of 8 but he officially took over the family farming business after formally completing his secondary and tertiary studies, about four years ago.
Persaud said that the decision was easy since he grew up farming with his parents. Before that, his grandfather was a farmer too. In fact, he hails from a long line of farmers.
“Farming is in my blood,” the youth who owns 28 acres of land just behind Garden of Eden on the East Bank of Demerara stated.
As of right now, the young farmer produces bora, boulanger, pepper, pawpaw, plantain and bananas just to name a few which he sells to a medium scale vendor. He also rears pigs, ducks, chicken, sheep and do a little of aqua farming.
Persaud said, “My father’s father which is my grandfather, he had this land and at first it was cane, all over was cane, then after, they [authorities] had closed down the [sugar] estate and he ended up going into cash crop,”
The young farmer recalled that during his early childhood days, after coming home from primary school, he would often accompany his father to go to their farm lands. Being accustomed to it, Persaud said he eventually developed a deep interest for farming.
“When I come home from school, I use to go with him and help him out and eventually, I just ended up liking it,” he commented.
He related that he always knew that farming was something he wanted to do in the long term.
As such, when he attended the Friendship Secondary School, Persaud studied business; he said he pretty much knew about farming from his family, but did not know the business management aspect of farming.
From there, the young farmer recalled that he went on to the Government Technical Institute (GTI) where he studied diesel mechanic. From there, he related he went on to work at MACORP, where he completed an excavator operator course.
He said all of this was equipping himself with the necessary skills and knowledge for when he was fully ready to handle the farming business on his own.
Persaud shared that making the decision to venture into farming full-time, was backed by great and encouraging support especially from his loved ones, whom are the driving force behind the success of the business.
Nevertheless, the young farmer admits that he has faced his fair share of difficulties.
Persaud revealed that he dealt with several issues tending to the 28 acres of farmland such as pest and diseases attacking his produce and the lack of consistent workmen to get the job done.
According to Persaud, for the past three years, a total of 22 of his cows were killed, leaving him with only six presently.
He shared that earlier this year, around Mashramani one was killed, while another was killed in March.
Having been affected by the presence of the national animal, Persaud explained that he had raised the matter with the Wildlife Commission.
He claimed that the commission visited his farmlands to investigate but that was the last he heard from them. “Persons from Wildlife came and they set trail camera and they saw that it was actually a jaguar, and after that I never heard back from them,” he related.
Persaud said he is sometimes fearful that he would continue to lose cows this way or maybe one day he too may encounter the animal while attending to his farm duties.
He is hopeful that relevant authorities can advise him or at least look into the matter.
Asked how he manages his challenges especially with the factors affecting his produce, the young man briefed that he had did some training with the Guyana Livestock Development Authority (GLDA) and the World University Service of Canada (WUSC) in the past where he along with other young farmers interacted and gained knowledge on remedies used to treat the plant/animal diseases. Noting that this exchange of information helped in a great way, Persaud said during the training, they were informed about climate smart agriculture.
“They started to tell us about climate change and how to implement climate smart agriculture, that helps us with the climate right now and how to plant and that we don’t have to use so much energy as before,” he elaborated.
Persaud attended a training programme which was hosted by the Ministry of Agriculture, Hydromet Department.
Through Hydromet, he and others farmers did the Participatory Integrated Climate Services of Agriculture (PICSA) programme which they learn about climate smart strategies while farming. Briefly he stated, they were informed beforehand about the prolonged dry season, which prepared them as to how to go about farming during this period. Another session, he attended was with the National Agricultural Research & Extension Institute (NAREI) where he learned more about budding and grafting.
“Participating in those forums with WUSC, GLDA and NAREI, it help me better as a young farmer… farmers are now being recognized more in Guyana as one of the most important people so being a part of those sessions, it helps me to make better decisions, help me to manage my farm, know what to do and how to plant, and then with knowledge from other farmers, it help me to know as to how I can get the full production from my crops and I can now better advise other young farmers,” he explained.
When asked about his long-term goal for his farming business, he responded by saying that he is looking to create job opportunities for others.
He mentioned too that very soon, he is expected to attend another session where they would be learning how to process pork into beacon.
He is also looking to create more space for his animals to graze and to create some shade houses for his plants.
As such, Persaud advises young farmers out there that if they are now starting, they should get involved in programmes of the GLDA, NAREI and WUSC.
“It is best to learn about some things before you go about doing it, that way you could already plan how you are going to do it, where you are going to do it and if you can make a profit off of it,” he added.
He also advises young people that are now getting into farming, to keep doing what they love and block out the negativity they might hear.
“To a young farmer, I would like to say that if you like what you are doing, keep doing it. No matter what somebody might say as to why you choose farming and that you could have done something else, if you like it, keep doing it,” he stated.
When asked what he thinks can be done to boost small businesses in our country, Persaud noted that from the farming aspects of things, is that there should be a continuation of the farmers’ market initiative and to have it roll out across more areas.
Also for authorities to host more workshops and forums to inform young farmers how they can access financing for their farming business.
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