WHEN you love what you do for a living it is no longer a job. Fifty-nine-year-old Balaram Bridgewater is a second-generation farmer who enjoys farming. At a tender age, Bridgewater knew he wanted to dedicate his life to farming. Even with the opportunity to branch off into any other field, he stuck with farming just for the love of it.
“My father was a farmer. We are from Parika and had access to farmlands. I used to help my father on the farm as a little boy but my parents ensured I went to school. After I finished secondary school I went to the Government Technical Institute and studied Agri Mechanics. That two-year programme focused on many aspects of agriculture,” the farmer said.
Bridgewater whose permanent residence is at Parika, East Bank Essequibo, spends many days on his 22-acre farm situated on the Soesdyke-Linden Highway. Instead of travelling daily, he built a small comfortable abode on his fruits and vegetable farm. This allows him to start the day early, dedicating enough hours to his crops before heading to the market.
The farmer plants a variety of crops including papaws, sweet peppers, cabbage, and sweet potatoes. He wholesales a portion of the crops and retails the remainder at Stabroek and Bourda Markets. His days are usually enjoyably busy.
Bridgewater’s life thus far has been hectic. But, he has good support- his wife- Raywattie Bridgewater. The duo work assiduously to build their business to ensure the best for their three children.
“I spend most of the day on the farm. I try to finish up to head in town for three O’clock. On Fridays and Saturdays, I sell at Stabroek Market. On Sunday I sell at Bourda Market. I prefer to wholesale my goods. I wholesale some. My wife and an employee help me at the markets,” he added.
Despite his hectic schedule, Bridgewater is satisfied with the independence farming brings. He finds the venture profitable.
“I like being self-employed. You are your own boss. I usually get good prices for my goods. And I don’t really get spoilage. My goods usually sell out. And I find there is hardly any disease and pest on the highway affecting my crops. That is one of the reasons I moved from Parika to here.”
The farmer declared that the most challenging aspect of farming is securing reliable labour. Farming provides employment opportunity not only for the farmer but farmhands, drivers, mechanics, etc. However, having year-round workers is difficult.
“Currently I have three labourers and this is good for the work I have at hand. But sometimes there is a shortage of labourers, which causes the work to back-up. Most young people don’t want to get into farming. They don’t know what they are missing out,” he stated.