Roundup was an essential part of our farmers practices. At the height of the agricultural industry, thousands of farmers were exposed to this chemical on a regular basis and oftentimes without the appropriate protective gear. It begs me to wonder how many farmers’ health was impacted by this chemical or how many lives have been lost as a result of the constant use of these harsh chemicals.
Banana farming brought in so much money that it was equated to trading gold hence the name ‘Green Gold’- to be precise it provided employment for about 10,000 St. Lucian farmers and at one point earned up to $87.6M for our local economy. This industry transformed rural, low income families into thriving middle-income households and played a huge role in the development of political parties, trade unions and our eventual independence. (See Blog folder for pictures and full article)
As part of the Island Innovation series, today I interview Keithlin Caroo, the founder of Saint Lucian non-profit Helen’s Daughters. This NGO has a special focus on rural women’s economic development through improved market access, adaptive agricultural techniques, and capacity-building. Helen’s Daughters was formed in 2016 in a winning proposal for UN Women’s Empower Women Champions for Change Program.
I wondered why I had never heard of Flore Bois de Gaillard or her contributions to our freedom.
Furthermore, when researching, I noticed that Flore’s achievements were comparable to those of ex-slaves like Queen Nanny of Jamaica or Harriet Tubman of the U.S. All three were former slave women who led military campaigns against attempts to re-enslave them and, while they were all killed for their efforts; they opened the way to many freed slaves.
One of the greatest hurdles of agricultural advocacy is convincing people to see the importance of farmers. It’s not as thrilling as the stories of helping refugees crossing the Mediterranean for a better life or stopping female genital mutilation in sub-Saharan Africa but in many ways, it is just as important because it impacts us on a daily basis. To some, farming may not even be considered a profession, and to many it may just be a trade passed down from generation to generation for survival. Today, most farmers discourage their own children from following suit because it has become less and less economically rewarding.
Is farming supposed to be characterized by gender? While I may have been raised in farming and regarded both grandparents as farmers, since delving into the field of agri-tourism I often hear the phrase “men are farmers” from some of the most unlikely places, even the NGOs that are supposed to support gender equality do not consider women to be involved in agriculture.
I know for some, the market may represent many unsavory things- the smell, the filth or even some of the unruly characters but for me the market represents so much more- I view it as the meeting place of the largest number of agro-entrepreneurs on island. And for many including myself, it was the place of business for many of our relatives.
Every month our #HerStory initiative features rural St. Lucia women mainly involved in agriculture, fisheries, agro-processing and animal husbandry. Many persons lack the awareness that women play a significant role in the agricultural market. Women farmers may appear to not be as productive as men but a closer look reveals that this is due to […]
University of British Columbia x Helen’s Daughters Helen’s Daughters was selected out of hundreds of proposals as an experimental case study by the University of British Columbia (UBC) for one of its major courses in Humanitarian Engineering. The UBC Humanitarian Engineering team is comprised of third to fifth year geological, chemical and biological engineering students […]
With 95% of St. Lucian vegetables imported, including produce that can easily be grown on the island such as lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, there is a massive market for local produce but factors such as risk mitigation frequently come up. In the last year, we have been exploring ways to link the hotel industry to local […]