Holding her own
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Seerajie at her home in Salem Village (Delano Williams photos)
Seerajie at her home in Salem Village (Delano Williams photos)

The female farmer of Salem Village

ON any given day, farmer Seerajie (only name), better known as “Biggs,” would be toiling on her farm alongside her male counterparts with exact vitality even though she is aged.

She is the only female farmer in her village, Salem, East Bank Essequibo and has 15 acres of farmland aback Salem/Naamryck.

Seerajie cultivates cassava, pineapples, custard apples, plantains, pears and coconuts.

At the crack of dawn, she would load up her small boat with a 20 horsepower (HP) engine and leave her home via a drainage canal alongside her home for the farm.

It takes an hour to get there and another hour to get back home.

Part of Seerajie’s front yard

This is no task for the faint at heart, but this woman, who worked for many years with her husband on their farm when he was alive, is equipped with the ‘know how’ to get the work done.

She describes farming as ‘hard labour.’ No matter the weather, when there is harvest, she has to be there and has as an employee who would assist her on the actual farm.

Seerajie told the Pepperpot Magazine that she is from Salem, her hometown, but migrated to Venezuela while she still had youth on her side and spent some years in that country.

She recalled that those were the good days living and working in that country, but when the economic stability of that country collapsed, she was forced to return home to Guyana.

The farmer stated that she had saved up some money, used it to buy the plot she is occupying now, and purchased some farmland.

The mother of three has established herself as a village farmer and is known and respected among her peers as a hard-working woman.

Things became uncertain as it relates to her farmland after her husband passed away seven years ago, and she decided to continue cultivating crops as they did when he was alive.

She explained that her late husband handled the hard part of farming, but she was there to assist.

Seerajie’s home

Over the years she has learned quite a lot, which helped her along that journey of being a self-sufficient farmer.

She credits her success to her late husband’s tutelage on the farm, and it was because she wasn’t that stay-at-home kind of woman; she is one who stood beside her spouse through thick and thin.

These days, Seerajie doesn’t mind toiling on her farm, regardless of the weather. She would make the painstaking journey even with her little outboard engine and spend a lot of hours working.

She used to have big engines, but it was stolen from right under her house some time ago by person (s) unknown.

Seerajie told the Pepperpot Magazine that life as a farmer is very humble and it has taught her to appreciate the simple things in life.

Her personality is attractive and her energy motivating, and these qualities are what make her unlike any other.

The farmer has her house in the front lot and behind that is her son’s house.

And that of her daughter, making it an extended family setting for which she is grateful, since she is never alone.

She has grandchildren to play with, and at least two of her three children close by.

Seerajie manning her boat and engine home after returning from her farm

Being a farmer for the past 19 years, Seerajie added that like some investments, farming is by chance and a profit isn’t guaranteed, but she would try to “roll with the punches,” based on faith.

That day, when the team visited, luckily Seerajie was at home and she wasn’t sitting, but pruning trees and flower plants in her yard.

“The farmhand did not show up for work today, so I decided to get some yard work started as you can see, and the weather is also good,” she said.

As a thinking farmer, Seerajie told the Pepperpot Magazine that pineapples take 18 months to grow to reach a ripened stage.

So in the meantime, she decided to plant other crops such as coconuts, custard apples, pears and ground provisions.

She would sell her produce to strictly wholesale buyers when there is harvest at the Naamryck Koker where she would bring out the produce via boat from the farm.

Seerajie, a mild-mannered woman, has only one grouse– the empty plot next to hers is overgrown by thick bushes, but for the past 19 years, she has been maintaining the canal and the dam that run along both lands.

She is concerned for her safety, because it was there she saw a stranger early one morning when she was making her way to her farm.

Seerajie had to affix lights on her house for security at night, because the village is void of street lights and it is very dark.

“Life here is good but it entails a lot of hard work and hardly any time to have recreation, but being self-employed means a lot to me,” she said.

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