Il Faut Cultiver Notre Jardin 170


Outgrower produced pineapples ready for juicing


Pineapple crowns are replanted. After castration each plant will produce five or six viable suckers which are given to smallholders as initial seed


The factory farm will produce its first commercial pineapple crop in March 2011


A small sample of organic peppers from one outgrower being assessed for quality. It is vital that local farmers do not become over-dependent on a single cash crop.

In my first overseas job I had the agriculrture brief at the British High Commission in Lagos for four years. Being me, I threw myself into it and the enthusiasm has never left me. The passages in The Catholic Orangemen of Togo on African agriculture are among my most passionately felt writings.

I remain immersed in the policy questions of the impact of colonialism on land ownership patterns, and the destruction of African agriculture by first world agricultural protectionism and dumping. But there is still no work that makes me happier than practical involvement with African farming communities. My main work in Ghana is in the energy sector, but I have been helping on a voluntary basis with a number of agricultural projects. This one is led by my old friend Felix Semavor.

How do I help? Well, I help to access development funding – in this case, the US government is helping with a feeder road, and the Dutch and Danish governments have helped provide agro-processing equipment. I spent Monday morning working with outgrowers to finalise their business development plans for startup loan applications. I have been advising on meeting the requirements for fairtrade certification, right down to details like methods of latrine construction.

I have also been able to help a little in dealing with potential UK and European customers.

This particular project involves production of flash frozen coconut, pineapple and mango pieces and of juices – primarily mango and pineapple, but we are also looking at pineapple and papaya and other mixes.

The project is primarily aimed at the export market, and I believe will be very succesful. The factory will ultimately support some 10,000 outgrowers. Once an outgrower cooperative has a total of 100 hectares, the economics comfortably support a communal tractor and pickup.

All is not entirely straightforward. There has been a widespread failure of the mango crop this year. probably because of exceptionally heavy early rains during the flowering period. Growers are establishing large pineapple fields. These have to be sloped, as retained water can quickly lead to Phytophthora infestation – something we have largely eliminated. But the result is of course the danger of soil erosion in the rainy season. There is no sign of a real problem yet, but these are early days and we are looking at bunds and intercropping.

I have tried very hard to affect my country’s foreign policy, both from the inside and the outside of the political establishment, to improve respect for human rights. I have achieved a small amount and been personally hurt by the attempt. I will still keep trying. But nothing is better for the soul than working to help people in poverty improve their lives, and to produce crops from the earth. Voltaire was right. Il faut cultiver notre jardin.

I do hope that you will buy and read The Catholic Orangemen of Togo, which I hope is a profound text on the condition of Africa disguised as a series of anecdotal romps. That was what I was trying to do, anyway.

Apart from which, I am moving house on Thursday and am somewhat strapped for cash. If you too are strapped for cash, there is an option to read it free on line. If you have already read it, buy a copy for someone else as a present. If you think its rubbish, buy a copy for someone you don’t like as a present!

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170 thoughts on “Il Faut Cultiver Notre Jardin

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  • ingo

    I feel compelled to comment without linking, because many of you know by now of the judgement over Ian Tomlinsons assault. Here is what I wrote elsehwere

    Ian Tomlinson was not a protester

    My sincere condolences to the family of Mr. Tomlinson, they have not received justice today.There is a civil case avenue with more chances of success.

    I feel sorry for them and for our children who have to live in this police state that is erroding our base of law, freedom of assembly and more. A society that is clarifying like butter into an establishment that does not like it up them and us who pay and shut up, we are allowed to bail them out and fetter these well fed officers with our taxes.

    YES, I do want to be able to vote for my Chief constable, and yes, there should be a non ACPO choice, why should we run our police by a private company that is biased and political, instead of independent and impartial to pressure.

    Mr. Patel, the first coroner has a record, a history of post mortem mistakes, his judgement can in no way be as valid as that of the other two doctors.

    This judgement should be overturned, because its blatant message will sink into our minds and churn. It says, police officers can push you from behind and hit women with batons, without having to face the law.

    I have no confidence in the judiciary or the police anymore, and such misguided judgements, as well as the behaviour shown by our police officers at environmental protests and demonstration, shows that the violent state image projected by Orwell has arrived, whence political policing ruins peoples life’s and kills, then something is seriously wrong in this country.

    The police will have to ask itself a set of new questions, like.

    Should we be prepared for more clandestine actions.? Will serious activists risk their liberty and personal freedom by carrying on as usual, when they have found their ways to legitamit means of protests barred by violence against innocent bystanders and/or against woman?

    All by grown police officers, fighting fit and with generous pensions, all paid for by us.

    Is this some sort of national masochism were we pay and then get battered until we pay some more?

  • Mark Golding - Children of Iraq


    I am never neutral; never on the fence; neutrality is a weakness and abstentions are perverse.

    Your argument has missed my point – ‘.. and that honour will, as time passes, be the restoration of our countries standing.’ This is key to my argument, which is one of shame.

    Shame that, ‘There are no whistleblowers on the lists, as far as I can tell, nor any vindicated opponents of our recent foreign policies, or investigators of political scandals, of which we have far too many. The audit of national excellence is sinking further and further into disrepute; our politicised Honours system is beyond repair.’

    The general public can recommend honours by writing to the Prime-Minister’s Honours Unit, such as they do for, ‘toiling toilet cleaners, brave firefighters, devoted nurses, committed children’s rights activists.’ -‘ ..lined up with the dubious, who always get the superior medals, for the baubles are embedded in a strict caste order.’

    When asked if the system could be improved by way of letter which said, ‘Is there any hope that the new broom you brought with you into Downing Street will sweep away the present debased system? Or are there too many socialists in the queue who have been waiting for a now worthless gong and other base pieces of metal?’

    William Hague refused to respond.

    Great men have refused knighthoods, Alan Bennett, David Bowie, Peter Benenson, Stephen Hawking and Trevor Howard to name a few.

    (Thanks to Yasmin for your remarks)

  • Iain Orr

    Honours? Craig’s probably just waiting for an OM

    That’s just a peg to recycle the Clement Attlee (1883-1967) verse – on himself:

    “Few thought him even a starter

    There were many who thought themselves smarter

    But he ended PM, CH and OM

    An Earl and a Knight of the Garter.”

  • glenn

    Ingo: Indeed, well written. Yet again we have police in blatant violation of the law, absolutely bang to rights in the court of public opinion too, yet they get away with it completely. One apologist from the ranks told a radio-4 news presenter at the time, “We didn’t know he wasn’t a prow-tess-tah!”, as if being such a person would have made the murderous assault acceptable.

    You might recall that last year the Pentagon was caught equating protesting with terrorism. A refresher course for employees had asked the following, as part of a questionnaire with four possible answers:

    Q – Which of the following is an example of low-level terrorism activity?

    a – Attacking the Pentagon

    b – IEDs

    c – Hate crimes against racial groups, or

    d – Protests.

    The correct answer was (d) – protests.


    Decisions like this by the CPS make it very clear that attending a peaceful protest – or indeed being anywhere near one – is official disproved of, and the police can flagrantly assault or even kill you with impunity should you dare do so.

    What gets me is that these cases wouldn’t even have got this far, had it not been for the chance images from a passing tourist’s camera. Little wonder the police are so fond of confiscating cameras, and using ‘terrorism’ powers to frighten away photographers! We are expected to believe that with the many millions spent on ‘security’ surveillance in our cities and at such events, officials just wouldn’t have noticed this criminal police activity without some tourist taking a chance picture.

    Clearly, our tax money is spent only to gather evidence against us, not to protect us in these situations. And also clearly, the establishment regards democratic and peaceful protesting as a nuisance, and participants should officially expect harsh treatment, ‘kettling’ (unlawful detention), and a serious risk of death or injury.

  • Neil Barker

    No, Glen. Free use of the internet is readily available when I go to the town to buy food. I can not ask the guy to buy me a book. Anyway, how could he do it? People here don’t have credit cards, or cheques, or access to libraries.

    Get real! Learn how people live in the rest of the world outside your smug, sickly cocoon.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    Neil Barker, could you send me an elephant, please? By registered delivery, in a large, padded envelope – next time you’re in town. We can’t get elephants here, you know, it’s very difficult to get rhinoceroses as well, so if you could throw one of those in, it’d be much appreciated.

  • Mark Golding - Children of Iraq

    Good post Glenn, well said – No wonder Dave Davis was ‘booted out’ (resigned) from the Conservative shadow cabinet when he promised on WebCameron to roll-back the so called ‘terrorist’ powers catalysted by the ‘dodgy’ (MI5 whistle-blower) 7/7 attacks. Who was killed at Canary Wharf? – OWN UP! before you bastards are exposed in time!

  • Ruth

    ‘Clearly, our tax money is spent only to gather evidence against us, not to protect us in these situations. And also clearly, the establishment regards democratic and peaceful protesting as a nuisance, and participants should officially expect harsh treatment, ‘kettling’ (unlawful detention), and a serious risk of death or injury.’

    Not just that. Look at the sentences given to the protesters at the Israeli embassy.

  • Mark Golding - Children of Iraq

    Hi Ruth, you say ‘Clearly, our tax money is spent only to gather evidence against us’ true but with agent Cameron in power we have ‘neighbourhood watch’ surveillance using dormant funds.

    Part of the program of ‘Big Brother’ – sorry I mean ‘Big Society’ is a ‘community force’ aka ‘Citizen Corps’ in the States, that will under the guise of training others in helping poorer communities, rehabilitating offenders and making our young people more responsible, be in reality, a scheme to try and bring back ‘trust’ in government for future generations.

    Every UK adult according to the schemes draft proposals should be involved in ‘Active Neighbourhood Groups (ANG’s) and an appointed ‘leader’ will ‘ensure compliance to a neighbourhood code of conduct to protect against extremists causes.

    Neighbourhood members (non-members?) will be classified in an on-line rating system/scheme along with street by street crime analysis. The best neighbourhood spies will be rewarded using ‘results’ criteria.

    A ‘National Army’ of 5,000 community organisers will be government trained (and funded) to establish and operate neighbourhood groups and help them ‘tackle difficult social challenges.’

    “Your only supposed to blow the bloody doors off”

  • Richard Robinson

    “Your only supposed to blow the bloody doors off”

    Not the airplane and the dead.

  • glenn

    Hey Barker… I’m real enough, nay worries about that. I’m wondering why you _really_ need a free book, when you’ve bragged about already having it in electronic form, and boasted how you intend uploading it to torrent etc.. Why debasing yourself by begging for a hard copy too?

    And at 10p per post, which I’m sure you could put aside since you can find so much time on your hands and with all the pleading and so forth (since this is clearly such a priority in your life), that’s just 80p left until you can get your second hand copy from Amazon! Maybe your _really_ good mate Craig Oldfield could stump up the remaining 80p, since he’s so behind your very _real_ and most worthy cause?

    Where’s impoverished hell-hole in which you are forced to live? Why the need for so much charity in your direction, why are you so pathetically dependent and needy? How come you’re the most worthy charity on the planet all of a sudden? Why isn’t the electronic copy of the book good enough for you? How come you’re such a hard luck case, that you get to denounce me – a guy who works for every penny he gets – as living in a “smug, sickly cocoon” ?

  • Neil Scumbag

    I don’t work or do nothin. Can’t be bothered. The taxpayer funds me, my home and my six kids.

    Why wouldn’t I want a free book too, if people are stupid enough to give it to me?

    I’ve never conributed nothin all my life and I expect my kids will be the same. Not only will we never contribute anything, we’ll do our best to subtract from life through crime, taking your money, making a mess in the streets, being loud, drunk and agressive and threatening everyone with large dangerous dogs which shit everywhere and are never on a lead so they can attack at leisure.

    Not my fault. It’s just the way the welfare state made me.

  • Mark Golding - Children of Iraq


    Nick Clegg recently made a statement that the Iraq war was illegal, a long held Lib Dem view.

    According to Joseph E Stiglitz and Linda J Bilmes the Iraq war has cost $3 trillion and £13 billion cost to British tax-payers equating to £200 for every man, women and child.

    PM David Cameron, George Osborne and William Hague all voted for the Iraq war despite knowing that UN Security council Resolution 1441 did NOT authorise war for the following reasons:

    1. Resolution 1441 was sold as a last chance for peace not an authority for war.

    2.The claim was made that 1441 operative paragraph IV gave the UK material breach, the right to use force if inspections were not properly complied with. That is NOT what paragraph IV says, it in fact says that such an assessment needs to be reported back to the council, so the council is able to make it’s own view, in other words their needs to be another resolution authorising force.

    3. Resolution 1441 was authority given by the council in 1990, TWELVE years before, for a completely different set of circumstances, when Iraq was invading Kuwait, for the authority to go to war.

    4. The UK went back to the Security Council and did NOT get a second resolution authorising war.

    The Conservative held view that the revival of a twelve year old UN resolution is clearly invalid and Nick Clegg’s confirmation that the Iraq war was illegal must hold true in International law.

    The WMD argument was a lie and Britain committed huge sums of Defence money and soldiers lives (without adequate protection to boot).

    Historically the years proceeding the war further reveals UK complicity after turning it’s back on the Iraq peoples uprising against US backed tyrant, Saddam Hussein in 1991 and while US/UK BCCI bank account fraud was exposed, and France discovered that Osama Bin Laden also had a BCCI bank account.

    Britain and America must now apologise to the Iraqi nation for the enormous loss of life and the destruction of an ancient civilisation.

    From the British security Services statement we now learn that the Iraq war made Britain more vulnerable to terrorist attack. The British government should therefore make a public statement and apologise to the families of those lost through terrorist acts since the Iraq war.

  • Richard Robinson

    “Apologise” hardly seems to cover it. We caused vast death, destruction and misery; in justice, we should make that good, put it right.

    I have no idea how we could even begin to do that, given that any Brit. presence there is probably among the last things they’d want (money, I suppose ?). Nor do I expect the remotest possibility of any such attempt (beyond, perhaps, the faintly cosmetic), barring also-fairly-unlikely external pressure.

  • Stephen Jones

    —-“Where’s impoverished hell-hole in which you are forced to live?”——

    You can hardly expect him to make that public. After all there is a reason why he has to lie low there, after all the civilized boltholes like Thailand or the Costa del Sol got too risky.

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