This land is my land
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CTA. 1989. This land is my land. Spore 21. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/45058
If ACP countries are to improve their agricultural productivity they must do so through their rural people. And, if full employment, food self-sufficiency and an exportable surplus of agricultural products are to be achieved, rural people must tee...
If ACP countries are to improve their agricultural productivity they must do so through their rural people. And, if full employment, food self-sufficiency and an exportable surplus of agricultural products are to be achieved, rural people must tee motivated. Owner ship of land is a powerful incentive, especially among young people who see no future for themselves as hired labour but who arewilling to work atbuilding up their own family holding. In the majority of Caribbean countries, widespread land ownership is very recent but, in several countries where land reform and re-distribution has begun, the benefits are already evident. For much of their modern history most Caribbean countries were developed as plantation economies, where the mass of the population worked as labour on monoculture estates owned by a minority of landowners or foreign-based companies. However, many foreign-based companies, and even some large local landowners, found the combination of poor prices for the main plantation crops (banana, citrus, cocoa, coconut and sugar) and rising labour costs and unrest in the 1970s too problematic, and either sold up or abandoned their estates. As a result, governments gained possession and were provided with the opportunity to offer the land in small blocks to previously landless people. Privatization in Grenada In Grenada, by 1983 a succession of governments had acquired 36 estates, ranging from 17-105 hectares (40-250 acres). In 1986 it was decided by the Government to 'divest' these estates: to divide them into economically viable units and to offer them for private ownership. In common with the majority of islands in the Caribbean, Grenada has a very steep terrain so at divestment, farmers were encouraged to continue to grow one of the major crops - banana, cocoa and nutmeg but to diversify by growing other crops for food and for sale. In order to do this without encouraging erosion, a programme of soil and water conservation was started in which the farmers were involved. With FAO technical assistance, settlers were helped to build bench terraces, of eyebrow terraces, access roads and dams. A wide range of fruit trees was planted, while leucaena and Honduran Pine were planted on the steepest land as conservation forest The idea was to provide improved income, long-term security and to involve the new settlers in sustainable production techniques. Considerable progress has been made: people in Grenada are increasingly aware of the need for food self-sufficiency and import-substitution; more locally produced foods are available in markets and for the thriving tourist industry; and surplus fruit is processed for jams, jellies and confectionery. There has been a deliberate policy to choose young people as new settlers and there is no shortage of applicants: there are 30-40 applicants for each farm that becomes available, of whom 80%-90% are in the 25-30 age group. Dominica diversifies Similar success has been achieved in Dominica, where the main plantation crops were banana and limes. Again, these remain the major crops on the small farms that have been carved from the big estates. Where banana still offers a good return, some far' mers continue to specialize in the crop, but others have diversified into vegetables and tubers for the local market, ginger for export and also flowers such as ginger lily. In the drier south of the island limes were and remain the major crop but, because of the depressed price over several years, farmers settled here have diversified and grow passion fruit, Aloe vera and forage grasses for feeding to one or two milk cows and 10-15 sheep and goats. Some farmers are also keeping one or two breeding pigs. However, land redistribution is seldom sufficient when carried out in isolation, so in Grenada and Dominica, new farmers have been provided with technical advice and assistance with marketing their crops. In Dominica the marketing of new crops has been well developed through the Dominican Export and Import Agency, DEXIA (See Spore N20). There is a processing facility for limes on the island and a factory for coconut products, such as oil and soap. Aloe vera, a low-growing, succulent plant that thrives on dry, porous soils, is purchased by the Windward Island Aloe Company and is used in a wide range of cosmetics and body-care products. All these marketing intitiatives have resulted in firm markets, increased local employment and added value to products, to the benefit of farmers and the national economy. Integrated development Credit has also played an important role in developing the small-farmer economy in Dominica, as has the construction of feeder roads into previously inaccesible parts of the island. The United Nations lnternational Fund for Agricultural Development has assisted by providing funds for credit while IFAD and the European Development Fund have financed access roads. It is clearly evident that without an integrated approach of technical advice, credit, availability of inputs, access roads and marketing, land redistribution alone would not have had the desired impact and might even have resulted in stagnant production, frustration and a decline in standards of soil and water conservation.