Not working for peanuts - St Elizabeth farmer switches to sweet potatoes

March 12, 2018
Glendford Smith shows off some of the sweet potatoes he has reaped from his farm in Paradise, St.Elizabeth.
Glendford Smith and his work crew prepares planting materials for the field.

Bad roads, depleted soil and declining profits have combined to drive Glendford Smith, a peanut farmer of 30 years, out of that business.

Smith, 68, who is from Cornwall district, has shifted his focus to other root crops.

"First me use to plant peanut, but we see say the peanut thing nah work out. We nah get a good rainfall fi keep up with the farming. We change the system of the farming and start produce sweet potato, yellow yam, cocoa and tomato," he said.

"Mi loose about $150,000 out of one crop because of the water thing, and the land run-down. Mi just sell out the peanut and try with a different crop," he said.

Smith told our news team that he has journeyed to several parishes, including St James, Westmoreland, Manchester, Clarendon, St Anns, St Catherine and St Mary; however, the peanut business was not all rewarding.

"We did have problem to sell out the peanut up here because nobody never want come in come buy, all because of bad roads, and the area never so uplifting. Me did have to bake it and carry it go out a street go sell it and it never work out. The vehicle mash up."

"When me see say it nah work out and it a cost me so much gas, mi decide mi mind and say mi going to change the farming. I mek up mi mind and start farm sweet potato. I figured more or less that the sweet potato will work out," he said.

He told The STAR that during the days when he was getting 'peanuts' from his farming, he had to rely on his skill as a craftman to earn a living.

"Mi build baskets and do woodcarving, so mi achieve the money from the tourist business and use it back ina the farming. So all mi years I been farming, but I make the basket here and take it up to Negril and sell it, then mi come back here come do mi farming," he said.

Smith was busy putting in potato slips when The STAR visited his farm last week. The mature tubers should be ready within four months. He is hoping for good yields, and says he is not worried about the 'two-foot puss'.

"Mi nuh have no problem with dem. We nuh need nuh police, we a we own police. When me a do something, me try fi get all the young people dem involve. That mean me employ them that them can achieve something that dem nuh have to go out deh go thief," Smith said.

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