Volume 8, Number 5 February 28, 2005
"The Farm is the engine of our national life."
by Dr. Ridgely Abdul Muímin Muhammad
Minister Farrakhan told me to tell you that the Honorable Elijah Muhammad said, "The farm is the engine of our national life."
The engine of our nation is what pushes the nation forward. Without the farm we are lost. Without agriculture we have nothing. Because of the bad treatment under slavery and under the sharecropping system, our elders left the land seeking a better life in the cities. They left with a bad taste in their mouth, so that when schemes were fashioned to take the land from them, they did not put up a real fight. They took the little money and let the land go.
The national life includes food, clothing and shelter. You can get all of these, if you have the land. However, most of the countries in Africa import their food from their former colonial or slave master. No nation can truly be free with its mouth in the kitchen of their former colonial masters.
We need the land not only for economic development and wealth, but our very health depends on it. The Honorable Elijah Muhammad gave us the "Economic Blueprint" in Message to the Black Man, and he gave us a pattern to sustain our lives in "How to Eat to Live". America has forced many of us off the land. America is now forcing many countries to destroy their seed and buy seed from American companies. Why?
As the value of money goes down platinum, gold and silver go up. But these minerals are just a means of exchange. You can not eat, wear, live in or ride platinum, gold or silver. You must exchange these items for the land and the means of extracting and processing the raw materials from the land to make the items of necessity.
Real value rests in land, seeds, clay and trees.
Since our elders never got the real value for their work on the land, we have now lost respect for the land. Where will you work and live tomorrow? What are you doing to insure your future or do you still think that America will find a way for you?
We at Muhammad Farms under the Three Year Economic Savings Program, Inc are striving to prepare a future for our people. Allah (God) blessed Minister Farrakahn through the charitable contributions to both the Three Year fund and the 2004 Savioursí Day gift to retire the mortgage on the farm in April of last year. On his visit to the farm after paying off the mortgage, he told us that it is now time for economic development.
Part of our development will include facilities, activities, training and other programs to introduce our "city cousins" to a sustainable way of life. Owning farm land is truly a step towards independence. We are in the process of installing the latest state-of-the-art irrigation system to make our farm both more productive and an example to other Black farmers what can be done without government assistance, but with the support of the masses of our people.
Our next steps include the development of value added processing and storage facilities to transform our raw products into items that we can ship direct to our customers in the cities.
Our motto is "from the land to the man" and no middle man. A farmer receives a mere $2.50 per bushel of wheat, barely covering the costs for growing the wheat. However, the consumer pays at least $80 per bushel. How does this happen, you may ask?
A bushel of wheat is 56 lbs from which a baker can make at least 40 loaves of bread. If he sells a loaf for $2.00, he stands to make about $80 (40 times $2). Where does the other $77.50 go that the farmer did not receive for that bushel of wheat?
The companies in the middle between the farmer and the consumer, including trucking firms, flour mills, storage facilities, bakers, wholesalers and retailers pocket that money. This is why the farm is the engine for the rest of the economy. Not only does the farmer feed the people, he supplies the raw ingredients that allow others to get rich. When you support the Three Year Economic Savings Program you are helping to develop an alternative production and distribution system that will get around the middle man and provide Muhammad Farms and other Black farmers, direct access to customers in the cities.
The Ministry of Agriculture for the Nation of Islam is promoting the development of community-owned and controlled cooperatives in the cities. Each mosque and study group was recently asked to send a representative to the Agricultural conference sponsored by the Ministry of Agriculture at the farm in Georgia.
We were most inspired by Believers in Cincinnati and Atlanta who were both in their second year of running their community-based cooperatives. Both of these groups started off with a very limited budget and no facilities to speak of. However, they are swiftly moving to a point to where their collective efforts, perseverance and patience will reward them in having permanent facilities. When they open their doors to the public, they will already have a number of families serving as a guaranteed customer-base to keep their doors open and allow them to hire young people in their communities and provide a future for their children.
We video taped the conference and recommend that any city that wants to develop a cooperative get one of these tapes in order to study how to be successful.
A 1,600 acre farm, like our farm in Georgia, at best can provide 5,000 people with enough food for one meal a day each year. However, there are over 40 million Black people in America. To feed them, if they donít eat meat requires 6.3 million acres of land. To farm this land successfully we need $2 billion in equipment and 18,000 farmers.
The Ministry of Agriculture continues to interact with the larger Black farm and college communities to help us save our remaining 3 million acres of land and put our farmers back to farming instead of renting their land. We continue to help them fight the U.S. Department of Agriculture through our participation in the Black Farmers and Agriculturalists Association.
We are also on the board of the recently organized Black Family Land Trust, which is developing financial tools and resources to help Black people keep and develop their land. We are also active on the campuses where we show our young people the relationship between land ownership and economic development.
We give the equation Knowledge + Land + Capital=Power. During the first 45 years after slavery, Black people used the land and its products to develop a nation within a nation in the South. Blacks were buying land, creating inventions, manufacturing products, building schools, hospitals and homes; setting up banks and insurance companies. When America had the first national census in 1900 and followed it up in 1910, America got frightened over our development. So frightened were they that they lynched us, bombed us and legislated us out of business.
Now we must take the lessons from our past and use the courage from the faith in God and buy land, develop our skills, save and invest our money to build a glorious future for ourselves and our children.