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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  • Mark Golding - Children of Iraq

    You know some of us have moved a long way from pineapple crowns and I am feeling a tad guilty, so, with apologies I want to turn back the pages and put our great friend and host, Craig Murray, under a rather long range spotlight (I hope and pray he is still travelling as the silence is a rather worrying).

    I believe Craig’s finest moment will prove to be his frank, courageous, knowledgeable and excruciatingly honest assessment of the Iraq Inquiry members which he wrote on November 24th 2009 that revealed the central lie of Iraq possessing WMD. Told in exquisite reliable, undeniable, focused and understandable language between peers, the page must focus and direct the outcome of the Iraq inquiry.

    We learned that Craig was head of the FCO Section of the Embargo Surveillance Centre, responsible for intelligence analysis on Iraqi attempts at evading sanctions, particularly in the field of weapons procurement. Craig told us that Sir William Patey KCMG was the head of the FCO geographical department which included Iraq and that in conversation with him about Iraq’s WMD, the stories could not be true. In reply to Craig Bill had said, “Of course not Craig, it’s bollocks.” – A damning indictment; an admission that we later learn caused Craig much sadness and despair – ( Craig was only able to reconcile his telling by considering the enormous Iraq fatalities including the deaths of our fine young servicemen.

    I now strongly believe that the Queens Knights that form Sir John Chilcot’s committee on the Iraq war have an honour and duty to formally declare that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction and therefore the invasion of Iraq on March 20th 2003 was illegal and that history must be re-written.

    I am therefore extremely proud of this man, Craig Murray, and I hope in the fullness of time our Queen will receive a recommendation that this personal sacrifice will be be rewarded with Knighthood.

    For that is the British way and that honour will, as time passes, be the restoration of our countries standing.

  • Richard Robinson

    Yes, hope he’s having a really good time somewhere a long way away from the internet. The trolls won’t mess with him once they’ve seen how he castrates a pineapple …

  • glenn

    Barker – So you’re on a connection in a shop, eh? So you’ve got your own machine there, or someone that’s lending it to you?

    Surely, if such a person who can lend you a computer, not to mention the bandwidth to upload to torrent etc. which you were bragging about last time, the very same book you are begging for again (!), they could give you the £1.54 necessary for a second hand paperback.

    After all, such a person would be very familiar with your longtime poverty problems, and would be a softer touch! They must know you don’t smoke, drink, eat, etc. etc. …errhhh… Oh, if only you could have just £1.54 and saved months of begging in dozens of posts… euuuggghh!!!

    Good luck with more BS, Barker. Give me more details of the poverty you’re under, I’m a pretty soft touch myself, but you’re just not pulling the heart-strings quite yet.


    [Let’s just keep count from this post. If impoverished Internet correspondent Barker could put aside 10p per post, he’d have managed to save 20p so far in this thread alone, so just 90p, or nine posts more to go!]

  • anno

    Lord Goldsmith is a zionist. He stood firmly by his own law. It just doesn’t happen to be the law of England or International Law, moral law or even Islamic Law. Why does Cameron look like he’s done a round with Mike Tyson? Because he’s found out he’s PM but he doesn’t have any power. It’s no good crying on Obama’s shoulder. Boo Bah! Nobody listens to their leaders any more. Usury rules, okay. It isn’t the honeymoon Queensberry season now. It’s time for Her Majesty’s zionist opposition, like Goldsmith and Miliband to deny everything and support their own kind inside the new government.

    It would be nice if the Tories reversed the Stalinist grip of John Prescott over the free enterprise of this country. I just found out from HMRC that the courses our erstwhile Deputy forced us construction workers to attend, in order to prove that we can do our job, are not claimable expenses. Oh says the tax advisor, you might take benefit from the course for your own private use. Yes, and Craig might be drinking Mango juice in Africa. It doesn’t mean he can’t claim his airfare.

  • Vronsky

    Just back from a visit to the States, where I learned that military drones are now used to patrol the Mexican border. I think we can expect to hear much more about these marvellous devices.

  • ingo

    Just patrolling Vronsky? or the odd incursion into Mexico.

    I personally can’t see that they should be used by anybody until the question of sovereignity is discussed and decided upon.

    Whether the UN is still such a body is questionable, but the rules about engaging these wannabe robots are not even in draft form.

    Why have the western powers, always so proud of their democratic existence, not thought of their own sovereignity when they designed these new weaponsystems begs the question.

    BTW. Eliza Manningham Buller has definately earned herself a consignment of her favourite juice.

    Her crucification was clear and unmistaken, there were no WMD’s in Iraq and we knew it,

    I agree with Mark, the Chilcott inquiery cannot come to any other conclusion.

    Leaves the point to make that any of their decisions are mere opinions, nothing will happen as a result of them.

    But should a foreign country decide to take the UK decision making to court and call upon the results and or wotnesses to come forward, then they will feel obliged to agree, so I believe.

    Please berate me if such a notion of fair due process is impossible.

  • somebody

    If you look at this AirRobot UK lot, which Mark linked to above, you see that no names are given on the About Us button. Total anonymity other than the location. They are based on 55 acres at Chilmark on the Salisbury Plain and have an offshoot that trains personnel in explosives work. I am sure that they are a quasi military operation.

    Chilmark used to be a Royal Ordnance site with giant underground bunkers and then became part of BAe as far as I know.

  • Clark

    AirRobot UK, “Formerly Rotorcams”, obviously a military outfit of some sort. There seems to be less and less distinction between the armed forces and private enterprise, here on Airstrip One. See about 2/3 down the following page, or word-search the page for “chilmark”

  • ingo

    Exactly, Clark, thanks for pointing out the fallacies of our generally hostile R&D.

    The solid state laser is only good in dry, high visibility situations, ideally shooting at non reflective targets.

    I would prefer the phallanx on its own, maybe with a little proximity programme so you don’t waste too much ammo on this new and loved US forces toy.

    Why do they love it? cause they can home in their hellfire mission from 6000 miles holding on to a joy stick, whilst still having a hand free to fondle their extremeties.

    Now what for war games? Are they still the good egg our kids should enthuse about?

    yesterday I had a friend round for coffee in the garden and we talked about some years past.

    Then wwhen we came to what we did when rampantly young and full of it, he started a sentence with

    ‘I remember going down the Broads and along short dyke, nobody ever went from the path, but we RAISED HELL all summer long’.

    We both looked up and almost said in unison

    ‘they don’t raise hell anymore today’. Because they are on the computer, fart book, x-box, supermario…and war/fighting games galore.

    Children are not allowed to go out, make dens, run through the landscape like some happy loons, or build some rickety tree house, we do not want them to foster their own independent spirited selfs, we want them to be quiet, coalescing with our ideas, getting on in life, but then we also actively promte them sitting at home with not enough exercise, by letting them play with games that promote dealing in death.

    BTW. small reminder, Doune castle 30/31st. July, nearest railway Dunblane, many bands and fun to be had, I’ll be there giving a helping hand.

  • Mark Golding - Children of Iraq


    Thanks for the research. Some idea of the operating frequency of the AR100B can be gained from the aerial length. My knowledge of electronic warfare is somewhat dated but I am interested in how easy it would be to jam the control with high power, wide bandwidth noise centred on the operating frequencies. I suspect the control uses frequency diversity so some further research is necessary.

  • Richard Robinson

    “I am interested in how easy it would be to jam the control”

    1) If these things are some kind of military spinoff, should they not have been built with the idea of defeating any such attempt with the full resources of a hostile military behind them ?

    2) Is this the kind of thinking that could end up discrediting the board really badly as a place where really hostile “techniques” are discussed ? Or is that too paranoid of me ?

    Must read up more about these things, the idea of their crashing onto populated areas isn’t too good. Also, do they do much that the police helicopters don’t already ? Infra-red, heat-sources in attics, grow-lights; not unknown already, I think. Much cheaper, presumably ? so there could be lots more of them while still allowing numbers showing Cutbacks, Which Of Course Are Good ?

  • Mark Golding - Children of Iraq


    I take your point, but, as others here have wisely pointed out (just like my son’s R/C helicopter) with no legislation we could these procreating ‘spy’s in the sky’ coming down, blades turning, into public areas and school playgrounds, harming children and the general public. My interest is one of health and safety, an asset to this board!

  • Richard Robinson

    Mark – yes, I agree, it is to worry about, and the idea that it might be possible for people to deliberately jam their systems is an unpleasant one (though, as I say, I’d guess – *hope* – massively unlikely, barring utter hideous boondoggle). I just got mildly worried about the possibility of the discussion heading off into terms that could be misrepresented as being suggestions of doing that.

    I used to live on a street that was handy for dumping nicked cars in a hurry late at night – the helicopters can be a total pain in the arse, too, and I used to worry occasionally about one of them going tits up (I don’t know whether any ever have).

  • Richard Robinson

    Put it another way, perhaps I read too hastily and misunderstood. Apologies, Mark.

  • Courtenay Barnett

    @ Mark Golding,

    Why should Murray feel honoured by being embraced by a knighthood by the same corrupt system that he stood in a principled manner against.

    He does not need their honour – he has his own.

    As I said at the time that the Americans invaded Iraq in 2003:-

    “The War And Occupation In Iraq Are Illegal

    By Courtenay Barnett

    Much has been said and written about America’s war, and occupation of Iraq. Amongst the community of nations of the world, and within the minds of the citizens of the world, two statements might succinctly clarify the issues of war and occupation in Iraq. The war was illegal under international law. The occupation remains illegal under international law. The point is:

    ” Article 2(3) and 2(4) of the United Nations Charter read:

    ” (3) All member states shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security, and justice, are not endangered.”

    ” (4) All members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations.”

    Sounds simple, reasonable and clear enough. Let me add that there are two and only two exceptions to the Charter’s Article 2(4) prohibition against the use of unilateralist force

    ” … if an armed attack occurs… ” (or is imminent) as contemplated by Article 51 of the UN Charter is one. Authorisation by the Security Council is the other.”

    The Charter of the United Nations has quite clear provisions aimed at the preservation of international peace. President Bush and Prime Minster Blair have set their own standards, rules, and pattern of conduct in response to Iraq. Their standards, rules, and conduct auger well for future wars and remain manifestly ?” illegal.”

  • Courtenay Barnett

    @ Mark Golding

    If Murray wants to maintain his intergrity, here is a good example for him:-

    Rasta poet publicly rejects his OBE (3)Tweet this

    Merope Mills The Guardian, Thursday 27 November 2003 10.55 GMT Article historyThe leading poet Benjamin Zephaniah has publicly rejected an OBE from the Queen in protest at British government policies, including the decision to go to war in Iraq.

    Writing exclusively in the Guardian today, Zephaniah breaks with the convention that those rejecting honours should do so privately when he openly dismissed the award as a legacy of colonialism.

    The Rastafarian poet argues that the very name of the Order of the British Empire reminds him of “thousands of years of brutality – it reminds me of how my foremothers were raped and my forefathers brutalised”.

    Zephaniah also challenges the prime minister to clarify the “suspicious circumstances” surrounding his cousin’s death in police custody.

    Zephaniah was perhaps an unusual choice to be nominated for an OBE: one of his poems, Bought and Sold, criticises contemporaries who compromise their work by accepting honours.

    Today, he condemns those who permit ego to win out over artistic integrity. Courting popular figures with honours is “what cool Britannia is all about”, he writes. “It gives OBEs to cool rock stars, successful businesswomen and blacks who would be militant in order to give the impression that it is inclusive.” He feels such people with OBEs after their names have “been had”.

    The poet writes: “Me? I thought, OBE me? Up yours, I thought … You can’t fool me, Mr Blair. You want to privatise us all; you want to send us to war; you stay silent when we need you to speak for us, preferring to be the voice of the USA.”

    Zephaniah joins the ranks of luminaries such as the actor Helen Mirren and the film director Ken Loach who turned down similar honours. In keeping with the request of the prime minister’s office, however, they kept tight-lipped about the offer until some years later.

    Downing Street refused to comment on the poet’s rejection. A spokesman said: “We don’t discuss honours lists. It is a matter for Mr Zephaniah.”

  • Courtenay Barnett

    @ Mark Golding:-

    The trigger for his harangue was the word “empire” ?” synonymous in his mind with slavery and the idea that black people “were born slaves and should therefore be grateful that we were given freedom by our caring white masters”.

    Extract from the Times ( below)

    “The 45-year-old poet slated the monarchy “that I loathe so much” for refusing to apologise for sanctioning slavery, and while making clear that he had nothing personal against the Queen (“a nice old lady”), he reproached her for not writing to him personally. After all, “she knows me”, he revealed.”

    Maybe Murray would write:-

    ” I rejected it because, Her Majesty knows me ( even although she does not blog with me). I was insulted not to have received a personal letter. I therefore refuse to be knighted.”

    I think that Murray has enough of conservative in him, still to become ” Sir Craig”.

    But, Mark, why are you inviting him to go in that direction. How does it enhance his public persona to embrace the shit? How?

  • Courtenay Barnett

    @ Mark Golding:-

    Something from the Evening Standard at the time:-

    “Zephaniah said that when he received a letter from the Prime Minister’s office saying Mr Blair intended to recommend his name to the Queen in the New Year’s honours list, he thought: “OBE, me? Up yours.”

    He added: “Stick it, Mr Blair and Mrs Queen, stop going on about empire.”

    So – Mark – with all the work you have done on Iraq – what logic exists to invite the man to wallow in the shit that the Empire past and present is?

  • Courtenay Barnett

    @ Mark Golding:-

    I am saying at all that you are neutal:-

    “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.”

    Bishop Desmond Tutu

  • glenn

    It strikes me that the chances of Mr. Murray being both offered and accepting a knighthood are as close to zero as any event possibly could be, even in these times.

  • Courtenay Barnett

    @ Glenn,

    Thanks for confirming.

    It was more the acceptance than the offenring I was concerned about – but – depending on the politics – probablity is the establishment has alreadyty said ” just fuck ‘im.”

  • nextus

    According to the Wikipedia page on “Declining a British Honour”, Craig has already turned down: Lieutenant of the Royal Victorian Order (LVO), Officer of the British Empire (OBE), & Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (CVO).

    Craig is in fact the second most prolific refuser of British Honours (just behind L. S. Lowry on 4). Hurrah for the middle-finger salute!

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