Volume 12, Number 8 March 4, 2009
Farming for Life
By Dr. Ridgely Abdul Muímin Muhammad
The Ministry of Agriculture hosted a workshop at the 2009 Savioursí Day Convention entitled "Farming for Life". This title was a shortened version of "The farm is the engine for our national life", which is a quotation from the Honorable Elijah Muhammad in his monumental book, "Message to the Black Man."
In the workshop, I presented a "Three Year Economic Development Plan" under the umbrella of the "Three Year Economic Savings Program". I explained why the "Three Year Economic Savings Program" which was set up by The Honorable Elijah Muhammad in 1963 and reinstated by the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan in 1991 is still relevant today and can be illustrated with a little math as follows:
1/2 Pop 20,000,000
Acres needed 6,300,000
Price 1994 per acre $1,000.00
Cost of land $6,300,000,000.00
Total cost $8,300,000,000.00
Per person $415.00 per person
$10 per Month 41.5 months
Years 3.45 years
Research has revealed that we need 6.3 million acres of land to feed 40 million black people one meal a day for a year, if they donít eat meat. In 1994 the average price of farmland in the South was about $1,000 per acre, therefore it would take $6.3 billion to purchase the needed farmland. However, to produce food on that land it is estimated that we need at least $2 billion in equipment and facilities, bringing the grand total to $8.3 billion.
Now, if half of the 40 million (20 million) black people had donated $10 per month to the Three Year Economic Savings Program starting in 1991, in 41.5 months or 3.45 years we would have had that $8.3 billion figure by 1994. However, although many people did contribute, the vast majority of our people did not, which meant by the end of the three years (1994) there was just enough money from donations to allow us to purchase the 1600 acre farm in Georgia (Muhammad Farms).
Therefore until we as a people have purchased and put into cultivation 6.3 million acres of land, the Three Year Economic Savings Program will continue to seek your donations and be a reminder of what we could have done in just 3.45 years, if we had harkened unto the call of our beloved Minister. However, the Ministry of Agriculture is not going to sit still and do nothing while waiting on the masses of our people to wake up. It is presently farming the land in Georgia and helping other small farmers in the Nation of Islam get established and market their products.
The "Three Year Economic Development Plan" is a strategy to set up a food system and agricultural financial system that will allow us to establish the rudiments of a national system of institutions modeled after the Economic Blue Print left to us by the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. The Honorable Elijah Muhammad had grocery stores, warehouses, trucking firms, farmland, apartment buildings, restaurants, clothing stores, schools, construction firms, meat packing facilities and import/export businesses. All established by a man with less than a fourth grade education.
The ministryís strategy is to use the cooperative corporation business model and our food purchasing power to develop the wealth needed to establish retail outlets and a national cooperative bank. The full explanation of this strategy is presented in my new book entitled, "Commonomics: Developing a Post Yakub Economy", which was unveiled at this yearís Savioursí Day. The basic strategic pieces of this three year strategy include: 1. Buy more farmland, 2. Increase the production of food at Muhammad Farms and other NOI small farms, 3. Promote home and community gardening, 4. Have at least 100 food buying clubs established and graduating into cooperative corporations, 5. By the end of 2012 have enough patrons and members to open up grocery stores in our major cities, 6. By the end of 2012 have enough internal stock ownership in our cooperatives to be able to transfer that capital to our own cooperatively owned bank.
In the workshop, pieces of this strategy were presented by committees of the Ministry of Agriculture. Brothers Frank Muhammad and Gerald Muhammad from the Gardening and Small Farm Committee presented what you need to do to establish a garden in your backyard. Sisters Yvette Muhammad and Jarita Muhammad from the Buying Club Committee presented the steps to establish and run a food buying club. Bro. Gerald Muhammad from the Co-op Committee presented how to make the transition from buying club to the cooperative corporation. Sisters Linda Muhammad and Marva Muhammad from the Credit Union Committee presented the ten steps to establish a credit union and how to straighten out your personal credit. As we researched the requirements for establishing a credit union or cooperative bank we discovered that the initial incorporators had to have a good credit score, therefore we had to present to the people a method of repairing their credit so that they could qualify to set up a credit union.
The Ministry of Agriculture has a resource list on which can be referred to by all of those seeking information about farming and agriculture. However, based on the interest and broadness of the questions asked by participants in the workshop, the Ministry of Agriculture will post the members of different committees within the ministry that can better answer your questions. The committees established will be: 1. Farming and Gardening, 2. Buying Club, 3. Cooperative Corporation, 4. Credit Union/Banking, 5. News/Research/Communications, 6. Real-estate, 7. Food Processing (Cooking, Freezing, Canning), 8. Membership/Promotions/Calendar and 9. Legal.
To wrap things up, I presented a diagram on the concept of "The Course or Curse of History?" where I explained the difference between ever recurring cycles and "iterations to perfection". The basic concept is that as long as we do not learn from history, we will repeat history. However, with a new vision and the will and energy to make a change, we can learn from the past and jump up to a new ring of power as we progress to our ultimate goal of perfection and being pleasing in the sight of our God (Allah).