By Lakhram Bhagirat
One of the best feelings of accomplishment is being able to provide for yourself and the people in your care, and one of the best ways to do that is by being able to feed them. Food is the foundation of all things good.
Around food is where we have had many memories and to put it quite frankly, everybody remembers the good plate of food that they have had.
In today’s world, where we all live in the fast lane, choosing the right food for yourself and your family is quite a task since we are sacrificing quality over quantity. We have foods that quite contribute to the deterioration of our health but what we also have is the power to change that.
Agriculture is the foundation of all sectors since many others are dependent, in some form, on agriculture. Whether it is the service industry or manufacturing sector, we all rely on the farmers.
Throughout the world, farming is considered as one of the less glamorous jobs since it involves getting down and dirty all of the time. But farming is a science that very few have mastered and it is also one of the most fulfilling professions.
For the past 15 years, Dhaniram Ramchand has been living the dream since he has been able to boast about playing a part in what many of us eat. Though relatively still young, the 41-year-old has been surrounded by vast landmass and farms his entire life.
Growing up on the West Bank of the Berbice River in the farming community of Bath Settlement meant that he was exposed to farming and techniques of the trade from a young age. He developed a knack for it but his approach was more than the traditional one.
The community is the major producer of eschalot and celery in Guyana and while he initially went that route, Dhaniram knew that he needed to do more. And more he did.
“I was working as an Extension Agent with NAREI (National Agriculture Research and Extension Institute) and I used to work and you always hear about the (bell) peppers coming into the country and the importation bill so high. So I decided to produce the peppers in an effort to help cut the importation bill because to import the peppers is a lot of money and it also means that the peppers are expensive. So I started up the peppers and it worked well as has been doing well since it hit the market. We can actually produce the same peppers we import into this country because we have the land and we have the freshwater and now all we need is the will to do that,” he said.
Dhaniram began producing high-quality bell peppers just over five years ago and has been one of the major suppliers of the product to a number of supermarkets throughout the country. Prior to that, along with the celery and eschalot, he also farmed tomatoes.
“I did not have much challenges when I decided to start growing the peppers because the market was there and they welcomed it. I took it upon myself to take up the challenge to show that we can bring down the import bill. We are now working on broccoli, cauliflower and purple cabbage to bring down that bill.
We can do it all here. That (the bell peppers) really put me in the high volume crop because we import that. We did some trials (on broccoli, cauliflower and purple cabbage) with NAREI and it was successful so Guyana has the potential in terms of growing those commodities because we have the land, we have the freshwater here and we can actually grow those high volume crops here and it will ease our importation,” Dhaniram noted.
He is also expanding his business. Dhaniram not only farms but under his Green To Life brand, he distributes his produce and also supplies farmers with seedlings and pesticides. He also takes the time to impart his knowledge to other farmers since he believes that the more farmers, the better because food is something everyone needs.
“As any other, business farming is a business and I think farming has great potential and agriculture contributes a significant portion of the GDP in our country. So I think farming got great potential and with oil, we should increase our production because we will have more people coming in. We need to up the scale because there will be more market for farmers once they produce quality stuff.
“I am working towards producing more organic products so my peppers are now growing organic because visitors going more towards that and it brings a better price. I am producing under shade houses and greenhouses in an effort to cope with climate change because we know climate change is a threat to food production not only in Guyana but also the world.”