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Mar 30, 2023

Women Cane Farmers Boost their Capacity, Graduate Field School

Today, a graduation ceremony was held for a group of female cane farmers who successfully completed the Women Farmers Field School.  Over the last twelve months, these women attended sessions out in the field, at the B.S.I. mills at Tower Hill learning the theory and then practical aspects of the sugar industry from start to finish. But don’t be fooled, because while they are housewives and nurturers within the family, they have been braving the sweltering heat and tilling the soil. News Five’s Duane Moody found out today that women are often times the brain behind the cane farming sector. Here’s his report.


Duane Moody, Reporting

It might be difficult for you to believe, but over forty percent of farmers in the sugar industry in the north are women.


Olivia Carballo-Avilez

Olivia Carballo-Avilez, Cane Farmer Relations Manager, A.S.R./B.S.I.

“Officially, we have over two thousand women in the sugar cane farmer registry; that’s forty-one percent of our entire farmers. Woman cane farmer – that is what we want to normalise and we don’t want people to think women are not here. They are here. These events are designed especially to create the equity that we are talking about in women’s month. Women in sugar cane farming, you don’t hear about it, you don’t see it on the news. You see the men chopping cane, but that’s not really all that’s cane farming. You will see these women at the bank, you will see them at the shop, you will see them at Social Security paying their employees’ social security and they are a critical part; they are sometimes the brain behind and they need to understand all the agricultural aspects as well.”


Today, an initial cohort of eleven women who started a field school last year proudly graduated from the program. They were taught everything from prepping the land to planting, harvesting and even the process at the mill and financial literacy. Agronomist Miguel Keme engaged with the women several hours weekly for the duration of the training.


Miguel Keme

Miguel Keme, Agronomist, A.S.R./B.S.I.

“This program is important for them to know more about the field. Why do I do land prep? Why this variety?  Why should I plant the cane like this or herbicide? And beside the activities being carried out int he field, also for them to know that it is really important for them to mind the accounting. So we had also a module that is called financial literacy which was one of the last modules. So all the activities carried on in the sugar cultivation, there was the profit. It’s me as a farmer, am I making money, am I losing or what can I do to accommodate the situation like we are now.”


San Pedro villager Bertha Cob has been farming with her husband in the sugar industry up north for over twenty-three years. With this additional knowledge of working the land and being able to account for their losses and profits, she plans to see improvements with their cultivation.


Bertha Cob

Bertha Cob, Graduate

“It has been a long time of training and we have learned many things that we can do to improve our crop, our production and what we have learned, we will use it now when we are preparing to make our production. We have been working with that before, but we got more training and yes we will use it to make our production be more productive.”


The idea is for inclusivity at all levels of the sugar industry. It falls in line with the theme for Women’s Month 2023, which is “Embrace Equity.”


Rossana Briceño

Rossana Briceño, Special Envoy for Families & Children

“Doing a man’s designate job is not about being a feminist with a negative connotation, like an F word. Being a feminist simply means that we believe that women have equal rights – socially, politically, legally and economically. Women cane farmers in particular play a critical role in this industry. Their contributions are often overlooked and undervalued, yet they are essential to the success of the sugar cane production industry.”


A five-acre plot was provided to the women with new sugar cane varieties to be able to have seeds for future planting. A new cohort of women will be selected for the program in the weeks ahead.  Duane Moody for News Five.


Hershey’s Chocolate Company and B.S.I. provided the funding for the field school. CCCCC, through the Green Climate Fund, provided the funding for the planting of the climate resilient varieties.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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