Focus: Land Resources
Location: Paramaribo, Suriname
In 2007, the Caribbean Institute initiated the Wroko nanga Koni (working with knowledge) program aimed at enhancing food safety and income security in the Surinamese fresh produce sector. The Caribbean Institute has an ambitious three-year program spanning four key phases; capacity building of farmers, the establishment of a direct sales channel to the consumer market, certification and brand building, and finally access to local and international markets.
Farmers are often dedicated, yet poorly educated on proper soil treatment, pesticide and fertilizer use. This leads to chemical overuse and inadequate production techniques, trapping them in a vicious cycle of impoverished soil. Through workshops however, farmers are learning how to maintain healthy soil, treat diseases at an early stage, and produce organically. In this case, organic means minimizing the amount of agrochemicals entering the food chain.
This is where we find Marlene Tima; a small-scale farmer working with the Caribbean Institute to develop an organic fruit and vegetable supply chain in the farming district of Saramacca. Through the workshop, Marlene has gained valuable knowledge on plant and soil biology as well as agrochemicals. Organic farming has also increased her enthusiasm and dedication for farming. It is far more labor-intensive than traditional methods as it requires manual intervention and detailed planning. “But it makes me feel much more connected to the people who buy my vegetables, as I know that I have the responsibility to make their food safer. I also feel more responsible for protecting the ground I am living and working on.”
Marlene vows that she is keen to scale her output. With high returns from the organic market stand, she bought a second-hand car and is the proud owner of a new computer with wireless access. A picture of a recent harvest has been installed as a background image on the desktop. “I am a farmer, but also a business woman” she proclaims enthusiastically as she poses for us behind the computer. Her children giggle and tease her about her emerging computer skills.
Environmental Impact: Organic farming and avoided use of harmful chemicals
Measurement: The Caribbean Institute
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