A Farmer’s Story: Sustainable and Inclusive Agriculture
I have the unique privilege to visits projects that are as diverse as the cultures I’m visiting. The projects cover many different topics – some which are more familiar to me, and others which are a complete learning curve.
Spending time with farmers, on the farm, learning about their livestock was an eye-opening experience.
As an avid lover of nature, I have dreamt about a farm life as a child in a romantic (and idealist) way, where I thought farm days would look like fresh eggs in the morning, high rubbers boots and most of all open space to run around.
Farmer’s gardenWhile most of this is true – the open land, the escape from the craziness of city life – the other side is that being a farmer is demanding physical work and a lot of time and care that needs to be given to the animals.
I met one farmer, who tends to pigs, cattle, chicken and other small animals, who said, “it is just my mother and me that operate this farm, sometimes we work very late – I even work until midnight”.
This one farmer had a very warm smile. There was a sense of genuineness in his laughter and ease to the way he talked about his animals and he knew about their conditions very intimately.
I also met with other farmers, almost all shared the characteristics of both kindness and toughness. For me, what I saw was that farming is not simply a day job for these people, it is a way of life.
New Word: “Husbandry”
Sadly, I also saw poor working conditions for the farmers. Most were working very hard for marginal profit and not realizing where opportunities were lost.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries (MAFF), with the support of EU, is working directly with farmers to improve their working conditions. A concern that the farmers expressed were sick animals and diseases that couldn’t be treated in a traditional way. So what was inspiring to see was the MAFF encouraging Veterinary education and services.
I also learned a new word “husbandry” or animal husbandry, which the science of breeding and caring for farm animals. Training and direct support from the MAFF help the farmers improve “animal husbandry”!
I still feel like I know very little about agriculture, livestock, animal husbandry (my new favourite word), but through this project I was able to step inside the rubber boots of a farmer and learn about what persists as some of the challenges and what is being done to ensure that farmers are supported through training.