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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  • Craig Oldfield

    Stephen Jomes, shame shame shame on you. YES, people DO have an obligation to help the poor. You are a cocksucking fuckwit and you deserved to lose your wife. You are a wankstain, a blot on humanity, a fart, a piece of shit.

  • Richard Robinson

    “the smug self-satisfied ignorance of so many of the posters here”

    We are, indeed, ignorant of why it’s so important for Barker to read this book and so impossible for him to get it any other way. That’s because he hasn’t explained it. And, how is it right to describe someone (again, unexplainedly) as a sponger and then try to sponge off them ?

    2) Mangoes don’t try to guilt-trip people.

  • Mark Golding - Children of Iraq

    The ‘Big Society Crackdown.’

    Peace campaigner, 85, classified by police as ‘domestic extremist’

    John Catt and his daughter were placed under surveillance at more than 80 lawful protests.

    Peace protesters in Parliament Square will be thrown out after losing an eviction battle with London Mayor Boris Johnson today.

    The Democracy Village set up near the House of Commons in May must be dismantled, the Appeal Court ruled.

    But the judge was forced to leave amid chaotic scenes as activists shouted “hypocrite” and accused him of running a pirate court. The Master of the Rolls, Lord Neuberger, rejected an appeal against eviction and refused the group leave to take their case to the Supreme Court.

    The so-called peace campaigners must now pay 80 per cent of the estimated £110,000 legal costs of bringing the case. If they fail to pay, the Mayor must decide whether to spend more money chasing the debt or write it off.

    The case was won on the grounds of public health and sanitation?

  • Suhayl Saadi

    Richard, Iain, Stephen, it’s just the ‘Bill and Ben, Flowerpot Men’ Show – again! Or rather, ‘Neil and Ben’ – schlobaloab, wee-eed.

    Mangoes are the answer. Lots and lots of mangoes.

  • Richard Robinson

    “Bill and Ben”


    This Oldfield was a crony of Barker’s. He was the aggressive one, Barker held his coat with perverse moralising about what a naughty person the victim was. There were a couple more, I wonder whether they’ve found anything more interesting to do in the meantime … I hear Take That have got together to relive their glory days, too. Never mind, the world can stand it.

    Fruit juice. I wonder if I can catch the shops ? Blah, it’s pissing down, forget it.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    Yeah, Richard, it’s been raining here all day, too. I need some Gaelic coffee. A Cuban cigar, perhaps – and all the lithium I can get!

    Oldfield…? Maurice Oldfield? Sally Oldfield? Mike Oldfield?

    ‘The Sallyangie’ was a duo consisting of Sally and Mike Oldfield – ‘folky’ (ah, that word again!) songs, late 1960s, a bit like ‘Sandy [Denny] and the Strawbs’.

    I have an LP somewhere… them standing around a wooden barrel or a well, perhaps, wearing cloth caps.

    Ah, you mean ‘Craig Oldfield’! Ben S, Craig O and Neil B: What a team! What a dream! My goodness, they must be cutting costs drastically down at Legoland!

  • Larry from St. Louis

    I come back here and my god, you people are stupid.

    Btw, on Sept. 11, 2001, 19 Arab Muslims with religious anti-women hatred in their hearts committed suicidal acts of terrorism in the name of their version of Allah.

  • Richard Robinson

    Lithium, yes. I had a friend once who, ah, become a lot quieter once someone decided that was what he needed.

    Gaelic coffee ? Now you’re talking. Again, would mean facing the rain, but it might make it worth it.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    The phrase, Big Society, of course, is based, of course, on Lyndon Johnson Administration’s ‘Great Society’. Odd, I’ve not heard anyone in the media point out this very obvious fact.

    Actually, the ‘Great Society’ programmes did a lot of good things in the USA at that time, and it was continued and even broadened by Nixon.

    It all ended under Reagan-Bush.

    But I think Mark’s correct, in the context of the current UK regime, it’ll be a cover and facilitator for cuts in frontline services – essentially the exact opposite of the concept of the ‘Great Society’.

    Anyone recall how Thatcher took the word, ‘radical’ and turned it into a Right-wing catchword? The corporate world constantly bastardises linguistics. The Tories took The Tree as their emblem, what rot!

    Appropriation of the lexicon is the first stage in a coup d’etat.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    100 pineapples – a fine gift for a rainy day! Eat one and become fruity!

    spambot’s sister

    The Ottoman Garden is a beauteous place. Do they grow pineapples there, though?

    troll’s auntie

    Anyone got a pineapple haiku…?

  • Stephen Jones

    —–“Btw, on Sept. 11, 2001, 19 Arab Muslims with religious anti-women hatred in their hearts committed suicidal acts of terrorism in the name of their version of Allah.”——

    Pity they didn’t get you, innit?

  • Ingo

    I’m gettin’ there….

    Mangoes don’t think, sweet longing memories of sun soaked mixing fun.

  • somebody

    Let us know that everything’s OK Craig. Know you’ve been busy. Just a line will do.

  • Richard Robinson

    “Blog shut down over terrorist material posted on site”

    Good Lord. Shut down 69,999 sites with nothing against them, because they were hosted on the same server as one where someone said something bad ? In a sane world that would be astonishing.

  • Carl Eve

    You bloody marvel Craig. I’m sewing a cape as we speak!

    Good luck with your excellent efforts and more power to your elbow. I’ll raise a glass of Fairtrade-esque pineapple juice to you and the rest of those making the difference.

  • somebody

    Best news so far today.

    “visits to the Times site have fallen to 4.16% of UK quality press online traffic”

    “The huge drop matches the industry expectation before the Times instituted the paywall that traffic would fall off by 90%, which is the standard experience when a site moves to a paid-access model instead of free access.”

    “News International’s accounts to June 2009 show a daily loss of about £240,000 for both Times titles, and last month’s ABCs show a year-on-year headline monthly circulation slump of 14%, to 503,642.”

    “Sabbagh goes on to calculate that the typical Times print reader is worth “at least two and a half times” the average online reader.”

  • Richard Robinson

    It would be interesting to know how much they’re throwing at what software development to try and cope with this, and what might eventually come of it (if any of it ever works, and if it reaches the public domain before it arrests us all just in case).

    Some kind of variant of the ‘the atomic bomb project gave us the non-stick frying-pan’ argument, the way that throwing insane amounts of money at something spins off unexpected results …

    It always seems to be used to justify military expenditure. Personally, I rather suspect it would be in no way weakened if it was something else entirely that sucked up all the disposable money. A public health system, for example, would probably develop a similar set of “needs” if it had the chance.

  • Mark Golding - Children of Iraq

    AirRobot UK is to supply a dozen drones as part of a new surveillance strategy test bed for the Olympic games. The company has already supplied 12 UK constabularies with drones, with seven more placing orders with the company in the last six weeks. I suspect in the next six months a national drone plan will be announced by the coalition government.

    A LITTLE KNOWN change in the Civil Aviation Authority rules at the beginning of January means the licensing issue is now non-existent.

    By 2015 a total of 150 drones will buzz around UK skies using infra-red technology and high definition imaging.

  • Richard Newstead

    Hello Craig

    You probably will not remember me but we were at school together (Paston). I have heard you speak many times and often wondered if you were the same Craig Murray – it seems that you are.

    Best wishes with your political career. I have admired your courageous stance on many issues.

    Kind regards


  • ingo

    No regulations for drones?

    Not nationally, or internationally? what a big loophole is that in our international defences?

    Oh deary us.

    Now don’t get me wrong, but how much does it take to hang a business suitcase underneath on of these drones and chuck it on someones mud hut?, rather than build an expensive missile capability.

    Now anybody lifting the regulations here, nationally, regs. that could keep drones from our private sphere’s, is blatantly increasing the threat of civilians beind hit by some or other retaliatory measure, they are increasing terrorism and the scope for it by this measure, lets us all say thank you for that great idea Acpo and William.

    And muchas gracias for the adject possiblity that some lost braincell is finding it necessarry to get himself an 8.8 or Oerlikon for his garden rockery to fight these eviul fascists machines.

    But then, drones maybe equipped with drone to drone beastialities? or can’t they? What about Kamikaze ballons?

    Replacing political PC’s with intelligent machines, i.e. slowflying drones, means that Cameron can cut their ringfenced, fireproof jobs, so safe under the new coalition.

    There should be a price for whoever brings down the first of these snoops.

  • Craig Oldfield

    Oh I remember you Richard Robinson. I recollect your innumerable postings about sniffing your sister’s panties. Are you still a nu labour fanatic?

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