Craig Murray on Africa: Digging Our Garden

Tony Gosling tony at
Wed Jul 21 01:18:05 BST 2010

Craig Murray
2002-2004 British Ambassador, Uzbekistan
Craig Murray was sacked from his post as British Ambassador to 
Uzbekistan in October 2004, but remained on the Foreign Office Payroll.
He resigned from the Foreign Office in February 2005.
Found Western support for the dictatorial Karimov regime unconscionable.

Il Faut Cultiver Notre Jardin
July 13, 2010  (pics)

In my first overseas job I had the agriculture brief at the British 
High Commission in Lagos for four years. Being me, I threw myself 
into it and the enthusiasm has never left me. The passages in The 
Catholic Orangemen of Togo on African agriculture are among my most 
passionately felt writings.

I remain immersed in the policy questions of the impact of 
colonialism on land ownership patterns, and the destruction of 
African agriculture by first world agricultural protectionism and 
dumping. But there is still no work that makes me happier than 
practical involvement with African farming communities. My main work 
in Ghana is in the energy sector, but I have been helping on a 
voluntary basis with a number of agricultural projects. This one is 
led by my old friend Felix Semavor.

How do I help? Well, I help to access development funding - in this 
case, the US government is helping with a feeder road, and the Dutch 
and Danish governments have helped provide agro-processing equipment. 
I spent Monday morning working with outgrowers to finalise their 
business development plans for startup loan applications. I have been 
advising on meeting the requirements for fairtrade certification, 
right down to details like methods of latrine construction.

I have also been able to help a little in dealing with potential UK 
and European customers.

This particular project involves production of flash frozen coconut, 
pineapple and mango pieces and of juices - primarily mango and 
pineapple, but we are also looking at pineapple and papaya and other mixes.

The project is primarily aimed at the export market, and I believe 
will be very succesful. The factory will ultimately support some 
10,000 outgrowers. Once an outgrower cooperative has a total of 100 
hectares, the economics comfortably support a communal tractor and pickup.

All is not entirely straightforward. There has been a widespread 
failure of the mango crop this year. probably because of 
exceptionally heavy early rains during the flowering period. Growers 
are establishing large pineapple fields. These have to be sloped, as 
retained water can quickly lead to Phytophthora infestation - 
something we have largely eliminated. But the result is of course the 
danger of soil erosion in the rainy season. There is no sign of a 
real problem yet, but these are early days and we are looking at 
bunds and intercropping.

I have tried very hard to affect my country's foreign policy, both 
from the inside and the outside of the political establishment, to 
improve respect for human rights. I have achieved a small amount and 
been personally hurt by the attempt. I will still keep trying. But 
nothing is better for the soul than working to help people in poverty 
improve their lives, and to produce crops from the earth. Voltaire 
was right. Il faut cultiver notre jardin.

I do hope that you will buy and read The Catholic Orangemen of Togo, 
which I hope is a profound text on the condition of Africa disguised 
as a series of anecdotal romps. That was what I was trying to do, anyway.
Apart from which, I am moving house on Thursday and am somewhat 
strapped for cash. If you too are strapped for cash, there is an 
option to read it free on line. If you have already read it, buy a 
copy for someone else as a present. If you think its rubbish, buy a 
copy for someone you don't like as a present!

+44 (0)7786 952037
"Capitalism is institutionalised bribery."

"The maintenance of secrets acts like a psychic poison which 
alienates the possessor from the community" Carl Jung

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