Monday, May 5, 2008

the blogosphere as a stress reliever

If it is not apparent to those who read my four blogs, I live in a very isolated setting removed from family and those whose social backgrounds and education correspond to mine. I am in an island where though my thoughts and ideas are incomprehensible to people who surround me, they seem to be even more incomprehensible to those I should be able to relate to, namely family and friends. If they cannot even understand what I am doing and why, how can I have any further rapport except relieving the pressure by way of blogging.

I am breaking new ground and confronting myths head on where I seem to upset people on all sides from their cosy beliefs that are challenged. While the Colombo 7 set want to eat healthy and not pay double for it, and are living a most unhealthy lifestyle themselves. They are worried silly about their children’s growth being stunted by hormone filled chicken, so they go looking for organic chicken, when their children are put in harms way with supermarket packeted expensive foods from overseas full of coloring and preservatives to say nothing of carcinogenic properties.

In the villages, the high degree of alcoholism goes unchecked and unchallenged. The myth that the difference between what they receive for their produce and what is sold in Colombo goes straight to the middle-man still persists. They complain the large millers are controlling the prices and making them destitute while still voting for them at election time.

I am caught in between in this sandwich of myths with insights into both ways of life, being a grower, a person who goes door to door and buys produce from village homes, like mango lime and oranges and then transports them to market being aware of post harvest and shelf life issues. Further to that I also sell to two distinctly different markets of a lower middle class clientele who come to the farm shop to buy better produce at lower prices than the high street shop and delivering to Colombo homes where those customers are also unwilling to pay for value, comparing prices always with comparable produce not grown under comparable conditions! Now how can I sell freshly husked, (plucked a day earlier) coconuts home delivered at a lower price than stolen coconuts that they buy from their local corner shop. In any event I am selling coconuts at the same price I sell at my shop on the farm, so in a sense I am subsiding the Colombo customer, who is very price conscious about coconuts, even though they may think nothing of a 5,000 a head meal at a five start hotel, and drive a vehicle that costs US$100,000. Such are the people and the times we live in.

On the production side I suffer very severely with an alcohol dependant workforce. There is no national effort to counter this, which frustrates me as it is a severe detriment to progress especially in the area of agricultural productivity. The work ethic of these workers as well as their reliability suffers and I have personally have had to suffer this week on account of this and has resulted in delays to various projects aimed directly at revenue generation and cost savings. This is not as big of a problem in other industries that have stricter standards. Agricultural production the way it is means that we cannot offer the labor force a higher wage, until we are either significantly mechanized and have scales that offer efficiency, which in my land extent don’t have.

Of course my insights gives those who are interested a first hand account of the issues, which if one was just an observer not living this life, would not be able to accurately explain. This leads to the frustration I have from the educated and well healed at donor and government departments who offer advise, which is sometimes very hard to implement given the situation alluded to above. In my line of work, I have a lot of armchair advisers and suggestions which no other entrepreneur would receive, but all these are from people who have not faced the same issues on a first hand basis.

I would like to get rid of all the staff and start all over, but that is not an option, so I have to do with what I have and try to gradually and patiently set things in process that will lead me to achieve my objectives. While I am still a long way from achieving my goals, considerably slowed down over the past three years from my expectations, my goal still remains the same. It is to be able to remotely run this operation, based on the supply side of the agricultural enterprise, namely by living in Polonnaruwa and have frequent deliveries of my unusual produce to a customer base in Colombo. For that I need a reliable and efficient man Friday who I will have to find and train over a period of years to take over the operational areas to leave me time to do what I like, something I have hitherto been unable to. To live in the remote areas, learn about local traditions before they have completely disappeared and appreciate nature and its bounty more.

I am now on a treadmill not unlike those in the big cities, but without the glamour of the city salaries or lifestyle!

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