Crossing the finish line with our first pineapple harvest
September 18, 2015
In November of 2013, hard-working Sierra Leoneans planted the first pineapple suckers in the village of Bauy a in Sierra Leone, as part of a new Just Hope venture there to create economic opportunity for the community. Over the following several months, the workers planted a total of five acres and 90,000 pineapple plants.
To ensure that these plants made it through an 18-month growing season, dedicated Sierra Leonean workers mulched the plants for protection during the wet season, watered the plants during the dry season and outfitted themselves with protective gear to check on the plants as harvest time grew near and the leaves
grew razor-sharp. They have been diligent caretakers of a venture that has been an education in farming, and one that has represented a great deal of hope for all involved.
The day that we have long anticipated is finally here, and we greet it with a great deal of pride for the people who have committed their livelihood to this effort. We offer congratulations to Sullay and Joe, for their excellent oversight and management of this effort for the past year. These two men are outstanding examples of the kinds of people around the world who stand ready to build better lives for their families and a stronger community to live in. We applaud all the people who cared for the pineapples, whose hard work has resulted in a strong crop. We honor their commitment, especially given the Ebola epidemic of this very difficult past year.
We weren’t ultimately able to complete our original plan of a single harvest and sale to a juice processor,
but we adjusted, and have been selling the fruit in local fresh markets. The workers carefully harvest the number of plants we expect to be able to sell as they reach the correct stage of ripeness.
Shifting gears in the name of success is part of this story, and we know that flexibility and contingency planning are critical to success in our work, as it is with life in general. The resilience among the people of Sierra Leone with whom we have worked has been a blessing throughout this process, and we are grateful to God for the experience of working with people who are so full of hope, so strong in their resolve, and so motivated to succeed.
Seeing this venture through — from planting the suckers to managing a profitable harvest — is a powerful experience for the workers in Sierra Leone. Seeing the “fruit of their labor” going to market demonstrates that markets for large quantities exist and are accessible, opening their eyes to significant opportunities for their future.