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Agri Science Stories

Crabs, Conchs and Cascadoux

“Yes Maa ah coming now!” I shouted as I ran behind the house to check
the crab traps that I set last evening. I looked behind the coconut trees and saw
that I had caught two big blue crabs, but had to leave them to go to the rice field
with my mother.
Bare feet, I walked on the cold muddy banks of the lagoon. The wet mud
oozing between my toes made my blood crawl but I couldn’t complain. I
fetched the grass knife and set out to work. I had to cut two banks of ripe rice
and bundle it for my mother to pick up. I worked fast, trying to hurry to go
back for the crabs.
Mother kept looking at me cut eye; she knew what I had planned. As we
worked, she said, “Chile, if you think you running away, you better think
I got sad and started to work slowly. I took my time and as I carefully cut
the rice, I looked for cascadoux and conchs. I collected a few conchs to add to
the barrel I had at home, but I had not yet mastered the art of catching the
cascadoux with my hands.
When we were almost done, mom saw a mass of eggs floating in the
water. She put her hands in the water and gently paddled her fingers. Not long
after, I heard a splash and she was holding a big fish in her hands. “See how it’s
done child,” she said looking at me.
We left the rice field happy. Ma had her task of rice cut; I had a cascadoo
and some conchs and was going home to get the crabs and set the traps out


Shazaad, the Bison Cart Driver

Life was quiet in the hut as I slowly rolled out of my hard bed, to start my
morning duty as the bison cart driver on the sugar cane plantation. The sounds of
crickets and frogs accompanied me as I dragged my tired body to the animal pen,
to make sure that the twenty cattle were given grass and water. The smell of cattle
dung and urine was unbearable, but I had to clean the pen before my master
inspected it. I then checked each of the bison, since they were all living in a small
pen and I did not want any of the animals to suffer throughout the day. I can still
remember the feel of the whip on my back the last time a bison became sick due to
an injured leg.
I chose the strongest bison on which to harness the yoke, which was then
attached to the cart. Dawn broke through the black sky. As I walked with my bison
to the sugar cane plantation, not even the early birds’ whistles cheered me up. This
was no life to feel happy about. I was able to see the labourers already out in the
field cutting and bundling the cane. I stopped at each bundle and waited for it to be
loaded on to the cart. It was difficult to steer the bison through the field as the
weight of the loaded cane became heavy.
Moaning as I saw the darkening skies and heard the booming thunder, my
job became worse as the pelting rain lashed my tired body. The bison refused to
move forward in the muddy path. I had to use all of my strength to pull it to the
next bundle. I fell into the mud and twisted my already swollen ankle, but I knew I
could not stop. “Move you stubborn animal!!” I screamed, but the bison grunted
and stayed still.
Frustration overwhelmed me. Pain seeped through my limbs. Tired and
breathless, muscles sore from the effort that it took to pull the bison, I could not
stand it any longer.
“Whoodup! Whap!” was the sound of the stick on the bison’s back.
“Grhrrrrnh!” “Grhrrrrrnh!” bellowed the bison.
As I beat the animal, I pictured my foreman beating me the same way every
week, for no reason at all. The wounds on my skin didn’t even heal properly before
the next beating. Tears rolled down my face. My chest filled with pain as I
understood that I was just like this poor animal. I flung the stick away and,
breathing hard, I pulled at the bison’s yoke once again. The bison inched forward.
“Thanks and Praise for Your kind mercy on me!” I whispered as I looked up
through the rain to the sky.
Limping in pain, both of us moved as one, as we slowly made our way
through the sticky mud. I had so many bundles to collect before I could get my first
meal to eat. Body shaking with hunger, cold and fear, I put one swollen foot in
front of the other, determined to finish my work. I shook with fear thinking about
the whip on my back if I did not collect all the bundles before the end of the day.


A glimpse into my life as an estate cook.

Another day at this place; work, work and work! I cannot believe my life
would be so tiring, from dawn till dusk; I cannot get some time for myself. I was
grabbed from my village and brought to this strange place where I was chosen to
work inside the great white house. I should be glad but I am not because my life is
not how it should be. No one cares about me, no one takes time to find out how I
feel; do I need help? Do I need some medicine? I have learnt to be harsh.
I wear a white dress with an apron; walk around with bare feet and cook
from morning to night for my masters. They could eat! These people have
mastered the art of eating; scrumptious breakfasts to lavish dinners. I cook the best
for them, everything fresh; from eggs, vegetables and chicken.
They sit and eat every morning while I cook and help to serve them. They
enjoy eating my food by the smiles I see on their faces. Sometimes, the children
would eat a little and offer to us as we looked on but we pretended not to see.
The day crawled on as we prepared lunch in a hum drum; cutting fresh
vegetables and meat. We chopped and chopped creating such melody that we
smiled to ourselves. This little joy allowed us to be able to complete our long,
boring chores in the huge kitchen. The tasty scents filled the house as we cooked
the meals. We imagined sitting and eating these delicious meals but it was only a


Life of a Plantation Worker

The piercing call of the conch shell at dawn was the sign to arise for work.
There was no time for bathing, brushing teeth, prayers or even breakfast, as I
hurried out of the barrack and into the square at the middle. There, we all gathered
to meet the white overseer who went with us to the plantation field.
Tasks were given out to all of us. He spoke in loud and harsh tones. He did
not feel sorry for us; he had no sympathy, even for those who were sick or injured.
Both men and women still had to do the hard work.
Barely was the light of day seen when we began our back-breaking tasks of
cutting the sugarcanes, gathering them into piles or loading them onto carts pulled
by the bison. Ever so often, the loud cry of my brother-man, followed by the sharp
crack of the overseer’s whip could be heard in the distance.
Many hours later, the conch shell again called us to a breakfast of roasted,
salted fish, bread and a cocoa drink. Lunch was several hours later and consisted of
breadfruit and corned fish.
About six in the evening marked the end of our difficult work day and we
trekked back to the barracks, worn out and too tired for anything else but rest.
There was no family to come home to, as the master separated us. Even when we
belonged to the same tribe, separation was ordered. Cruelty is but a soft description
of this life.



I loved Pricilla. She was my best friend. We spent all our time together; at work, at
play and at home. We lived on Pollys’ Cocoa Farm. We slept in the same stall in the stable.
First thing each morning we would wake up, get ready for work and start off on our day’s
adventure. Then, on evenings after work we would meet and discuss how we spent our day.
We never noticed that we were different- Pricilla a donkey and me, a mule. We only knew
that we were friends and that we loved each other and that was that!
Last Friday our mistress woke us up earlier than usual and she told us, “Today, the
weather is not going to be good. A storm is coming so we need to hurry to get to the cocoa
fields to finish harvesting!” Priscilla hated storms so she jumped up and started to
immediately prepare for her trip up the mountain. She wanted to get to the cocoa fields as
early as she could so she could return home before the storm arrived. All she could think
about was the frightening thunder and its effect on her. Whenever the thunder cracked, she
would start trembling and sometimes she would freeze or she would become so scared that
she would start running towards our home.
So when Miss Polly said that the storm was coming, Pricilla stood still and allowed
her to place the blanket on her back. Then the sambua was placed on top of the blanket and
the two panniers that usually hung on the sides of the sambua were attached. Inside one of
these panniers, Miss Polly placed her lunch of roast bake and pumpkin. Immediately
afterwards, they left the stable and started walking along the meandering trail that led up the
mountain side to the cocoa fields.
Normally as they journeyed up the mountain, Pricilla would enjoy the view. She could
always be seen looking around at the animals that would be scurrying around under the trees
and shrubs. Just last week; she saw howler monkeys swinging across the balata trees. But
this morning, she could not focus on these sights – the parrots flying across the skies,
monkeys scampering up the Brazil Nut tree and the macajuel settling down under the fallen
mango tree.
This morning, all Pricilla could think about was, “A storm is coming! I want to go
back home!” As Pricilla and Miss Polly walked up the trail, she did not notice that the
mountain side became steeper and the trail got narrower and narrower. At times, the trail was
so narrow that it could have been possible to slip off the trail and go sliding down the
mountainside, never to found again.
At last, they reached the cocoa fields. Once they got there, Miss Polly tied Pricilla to
the plum tree. This was one of Pricilla’s favorite spots in the cocoa field. After tying
Pricilla, Miss Polly took out her cocoa knife and started to harvest the cocoa pods. The cocoa
pods fell splotch, splotch, splotch onto the thick, moist, leaf-littered floor of the cocoa field.
Then Miss Polly came back and cracked the pods open, removed the cocoa beans and placed
them in a heap at the bottom of the silk cotton tree. She then cut banana leaves and carefully
covered the heap of cocoa beans. All morning Miss Polly worked. She only stopped to eat
her roast bake with pumpkin and drink some of the cold, refreshing spring water that emerged
from the side of the mountain.
As Miss Polly worked, Pricilla continue to worry about the storm. Pricilla thought
about the awful, frightening thunder that was so loud and made her heart beat so quickly that
she could not think. She never noticed the fat, yellow, juicy plums that were within her
reach; the plums that she enjoyed eating. She could only think about the thunder. Suddenly,
she heard it, “BBOOMM!” The sound of the cracking thunder was like a cannon being
discharged. Pricilla jumped up and started running. All she could think about was reaching
home before it got worse. When Miss Polly came to get her, all she saw was the rope
attached to the tree …
Inky Pinky Ponky
We will now recite:
Inky pinky ponky
Polly had a donkey
Donkey died
Polly cried
Inky pinky ponky
Ah Tie Meh Donkey On Top Ah De Hill
Ah tie meh donkey on top ah de hill
An if he eh dead he dey
Ah tie meh donkey on top ah de hill
An if he dead he dey
Meanings of words used in this story
Panier – basket
Sambua – wooden frame that is attached to the body of a beast of burden and used to hang
the paniers (baskets)

TEAM 2013

Mr. Smith, the Cocoa Estate Owner

I awake at four o’clock each day, feeling refreshed from a good night’s sleep. I say my prayers,
(a habit that I practised since I was a little boy), and when I am finished, I brew a cup of local coffee.
As I slowly sip my coffee, I think about the work day ahead. I also check my diary to ensure that I do
not forget anything important. Then I visit the farmyard to meet my workers to tell them about the work
to be done for the day.
I am Mr. Smith, a Cocoa Estate Owner, a most important man. Life has been very good to me. I have a
wife and three teenage daughters. I ride only the best horses, and my wife is driven around in a grand
carriage. Every morning, I tour my estate to make sure things are running smoothly. The sight of the
fallen leaves that carpet the ground and the smell of the cocoa bring me much joy. Sometimes the
workers bring their children on the estate to visit. If I am not busy, I always stop to chat with them.
Sometimes I give them permission to play on the estate. If they are extremely lucky they get to ride in
another carriage that I have.
My workers look up to me with respect, because when dealing with them, I have always been
polite, extremely kind, yet firm. They also know that my estate is contributing to the economy in the
country. The cocoa that is grown is sold to the local cocoa and coffee board which is then exported to
Europe. This cocoa is processed into a range of valuable products such as cocoa powder, chocolates,
cocoa butter, and others.
I also like to give my workers a basket of chocolate products on their birthdays. The workers are
extremely grateful for this and they normally hold their own celebration, where they sing songs, recite
poems and tell stories about life on the cocoa estate. Everyone is contented with their lives on the cocoa
estate. I am also very happy because I have an estate that produces the best cocoa, and I have become
very rich because of it. As a cocoa estate owner, I am living the good life.

TEAM, 2013

The Foreman

I woke up early, looking forward to another day of work. I was the foreman in the estate. Drinking
my cup of hot cocoa, I began to think of the workers who always gave trouble. There was Ezikel, this boy
who was always trying to run away from the work in the cane field. As the sun rose above the field, the
entire estate became full of light.
I could hear the workers as they plodded into the field to work. My eyes fell upon Ezikel. When he
saw me looking at him, he began to work. The whip marks on his back were clearly visible as he bent to
pick up the bundles of cane. I walked through the field watching the labourers as they worked. I looked
around for Ezikel. This scrawny, sun-baked boy was nowhere to be seen. This is what I had expected. I
knew that he would try to sneak away from the work the moment my back was turned.
Ahh! Another chance to beat him! I thought, smiling to myself. With his wounded leg, he could not
have limped very far. The sun was now directly overhead. The heat was getting to me. Beads of sweat
rolled into my eyes. I was determined not to let that stop me.
At the edge of the field I glimpsed Ezikel hobbling along the gravel path. My feet sped after him, as
fast as a racehorse.
“Noooo!” screamed Ezikel, when he saw me almost upon him.
He knew that if I caught him he would be beaten. Ezikel panicked, breathing hard and crying out aloud
while he tried to increase his speed.
“You will never get away!” I yelled, as I quickly knocked him to the ground.
Bawling, Ezikel made a mad scramble to get away, pushing and shoving me as hard as he could. I
pulled out my whip “Whataah!” and started beating him. The whip cracked on his already bruised back. I
wanted to show him that I was the boss in this place. ‘Crack!’ went the whip and he screamed out again in
pain. Satisfied with the beating that I gave Ezikel, I stopped to look at him. He was hugging himself and
rocking from side to side. His eyes were closed and tears were streaming down his face. On his back, blood
flowed like a river from the cuts that the whip made.
“Don’t be a baby!” I shouted at him, raising the whip once more.
“Oh God! Oh God! Don’t kill me!” he begged.
“You better get back to work then!” I commanded.
Ezikel nodded his head slowly. Holding his breath, he looked at me; I saw the fear in his eyes. His
body was trembling as he tried to stand. Sniffing and taking short breaths, he tried to stop crying aloud as he
dragged his legs back to his life. As his tears rolled slowly now, Ezikel went back to work. He had to cut the
cane and load it onto the cart. While Ezikel worked, he looked at me. He would wait for a chance to run
away again. I kept looking at him as if I was reading his mind. If he tried to run away again I would catch
him and beat him. The workers around him pretended not to notice as he joined them. I knew they hated me,
but I did not care. They needed to know that I was the boss.