This feature slightly touches on the needed revolution of agricultural developmental thinking from the perspective of people power. With so many forces reshaping agriculture, and with a continuing dependence on food imports, a rethinking of our roles in agricultural development approaches in the Caribbean is indeed necessary. The challenge facing policy makers now is to craft new development strategies to improve agricultural productivity, boost domestic food production and enhance overall economic welfare.
Many people in our societies are undervalued but are the very backbone of our communities. One such person is the market vendor, or as I like to refer to them, “bridges of life”. They have from time gone, created the linkage between the small farmer and the wider community. This relationship works well for the small farmer as he is afforded a market for his produce. It works well for the consumer as they are then afforded the introduction to the said produce they would have not known about. In the middle of it all of this is the market vendor (the bridge of life), who exacts small taxes for services provided.
Market vending affords us untold health benefits as they bring to us fresh produce most times not more than 3 days old. They also stay away from processed foreign foods that in all earnest carry with them serious health risks. Food budgets can be slashed by developing a serious market culture in each household. Should we choose to save ourselves and our future generations through the services of the market vendor, we would have taken a great step in the control of our lives and our sovereignty.
As a revolutionary magazine it is our duty to create the path for deeper thought. Let the questions be then asked, seeing that processed foods are not beneficial to my health, can I live on non processed foods? If I then do not need all the fancy processed foods that are weighing heavy on my health, should not the majority of my shopping for food be done outside of the supermarket and in the market? What would happen if I did this for myself, how would it impact my community? Automatically I have supported the family of the farmer and the family of the market vendor. I have also made a dent in our national import dept. I have taken control of my national economy in the light of its import expenditure. By refusing to buy their imports they cannot continue to make available goods that will perish on the shelves of the supermarkets.
It is this vein that “Our Afrikan Heritage” magazine introduces you to Mrs. Dynee Williams also affectionately known as Darkie an above mentioned bridge of life. Located in the Ceapside Market , Bridgetown, we had the opportunity to speak to Dynee and dive a little into the world of the market vendor. The very first thing Dynee told us was that, though what she does may seem easy, it is really a lot of work. People tend to see the market vendors sitting behind our trays and think that is all that we do. They do not see the preparation that goes into what they now see. Lost to them are the hours digging yams, sweet potatoes and the driving from farmer to farmer looking for produce to bring to market. This is something you either really love or something that runs in your blood says Dynee. She went on to explain that the majority of people seen doing business in the market have a family history in vending. However this is not the reality of Dynee . Vending comes as a second choice of occupation for this incredible woman. Her first love is cooking and previously ran a business around her culinary talents. Due to business operational challenges Dynee has now delved into vending with the intent set on rejuvenating her previous business endeavours. OAH asked Dynee what she saw were her biggest challenges in her business at present. Competition was her immediate response. In her humble opinion a stronger market culture needs to be developed ensuring business for all vending in the market space. She also is of the opinion that more can be done in terms of activity to draw persons to the market space. I take this opportunity to inject my own sentiment regarding what could be done by the powers that be to assist in the development of a strong and vibrant market culture. The question has alwaysrun through my mind why does our market space have such a drab and dreary image? Our markets carry the image of poverty. Another major drawback to the development of market culture would be the closing hours. Just as the supermarkets open into the night, so to should our market spaces. At least one market space stop should be on the itennary of every tour company on the island.
Being of a super proactive nature, Dynee has decided to personally introduce herself and business to each and every one of you. Dynee invites you to visit her at the Cheapside Market. What you are assured to find in her space is a wide variety of fresh exciting produce with extra pleasant service.
The perceived disposition of market vendors is one of being unmannerly. Though this may be true in a lot of cases Dynee sees that this stems from the strains and pressures created by a failing market culture. This is compounded by the obvious undervaluing of the market vendor in our society. We are the poor and marginalized says Dynee . Until prosperity and respect return to the market and its vendors, attitudes will hardly change. OAH is in full agreeance with this sentiment as we have noted in the island of Barbados agriculture equates wealth for one set of people in our society and the jail of poverty for another. This would be some of the residual effects of our slave past where agriculture meant nothing more than poverty and hard work for the slave yet was and is, of great personal and family wealth to the enslaver.
At the end of it all we arefull circle to where we started. You, the reader of this article, the person with the power of change clutched in your hands. What will be your answer to this call? In fact call Dynee at 254 5765 to make sure she has what you want or that she can get it for you.
OAH magazine thanks to Mrs Dynee Williams for working with us towards her development and the overall strengthening of our market culture. Residents please take the time to support this small family business. Visitors to our island are also encouraged to visit Dynee for fresh local and regional fruit.