My name is Hilda. I am an agriculturist who has worked in every area of agriculture. I enjoy working with people. Presently I have the privilege of working with urban ornamental fish farmers, while at the same time still supporting rural farmers. Over the last 3 -4 years I have been “genderized”, that is, I have been working specifically with rural women and facilitating best practices for a better livelihood. We have fun. This led me to become active in the Jamaica Network of Rural Women’s Producers (JNRWP) and I am presently the secretary. Since I am so talkative and opinionated (always giving suggestions, whether they are asked for or not) I was asked to represent the JNRWP at a Knowledge Management & Storytelling workshop. Thus I attended the follow up Communications workshop in Trinidad. As always when you have a lot of ideas, you get work to do. At that workshop, I became an administrator of the CANROP Facebook page. CANROP is the umbrella organization for the rural women producer groups across the Caribbean from Bahamas in the north to Suriname in the south.
I enjoy working with rural people as they are so open and honest. It is a pleasure to see them succeed. I have come to realize that my life work is really to be a change maker, impacting my corner of the world one person at a time. My best change story is not about a woman although I have good female ones too. In 2010-12 I managed this project where we planted 350 acres under an European Union Banana Support Programme project in the underserved community of Guys Hill. There, a taxi-man who loved to farm was encouraged to plant 2 acres of Irish Potatoes. He did and was successful. He was told not to plant in the same place the folowing season, as he had been planting in the same place for more than 2 crops. He didn’t listen and so ‘lost his shirt’ as we say in Jamaica. He learnt his lesson well. The next potato season he found virgin land, borrowed money and planted 12 acres (approximately 5 hectares) and made a “killing”.
He became a millionaire from that crop. He was very shy about how much he actually made but the evidence spoke for itself. He bought a second hand 1.2 ton truck, made some changes to his house and increased the amount of land and crops he farmed. He started enquiring if I was married as he now wanted to marry me, because he thought that, if just by following my advice he made so much money, he envisioned that if I were his wife he would be a multi-millionaire. All the women in his community including his wife who know our story and at my office tease me about it.
I have several gender stories but none so transformative as this Irish Potato one.