Mahindra had invested nearly all his family’s money in his field crops, but they failed due to weather or other conditions. He was at the end of his rope, and was worried about how he would make ends meet for his wife and 4 children. He began exploring all options, including difficult manual labor jobs and assistance for his agriculture activities. With the phone book in hand, he cold-called organizations in Georgetown, Guyana, looking for someone who could point him in the right direction to get back on his feet.
|Crops growing in Mahindra's shadehouse, August 2011|
When Gavin called Mahindra that day, he was surprised because he thought he had been politely written off by another organization. The following day Gavin visited Mahindra and within no time he was starting his shadehouse on a wing and a prayer. He had borrowed money from him neighbors to get the shadehouse running, and he and his family constructed the structure on their own to save money. Mahindra explains that he had to put blind trust in Partners and the shadehouse project. He had been skeptical, like most, of farming on raised table beds in a covered area.
|The youngest shows newest section, using palettes as low-cost materials|
His wife and family help with the operation where they can. He dreams to expose his children to the development of this small business and expand to other regions of Guyana in the future. He tells everyone about the project so those like him who are seeking a means to support their families, without as much risk as in-field farming, may also be exposed to the appropriate technology.
Recently, he sent his very first email ever to a team of Farmer to Farmer volunteers in Wisconsin who helped capture part of his story in a video they produced, which teaches people the basics of shadehouse growing. His relatives in the US saw the video before him and he heard that they loved it. By now, Mahindra has seen the video show in front of other farmers and stakeholders in Guyana. He says that he now feels like a part of a family – the network of shadehouse growers and FTF staff and volunteers, and he’s excited about the future.