“Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory.” – 1 Chronicles 4:10

It was very gratifying to receive supporting responses to my recent column entitled “Agriculture is Vital”, which highlighted the responsibilities to: feed the people nutritiously; use all our natural resources (land and marine); collaborate and grow more food at the national level; motivate the youth to be more involved; reduce the massive agricultural import bill; contribute to net foreign exchange earnings; reduce unemployment, mitigate business risks through shepherding; grow the economy; and protect the environment.

From Malaysia: “On sustainable development, ever so often, the powers that be tend to forget agriculture in preference to mega projects and structural issues, forgetting that agriculture is the backbone of economic growth and reduction of poverty. Much of the current seriously waning situation is therefore man-induced with inadequate priority to community-based grassroots issues which can drive progress…Your articles are therefore most timely, even if they are repetitive.”

I rise in defence of the repetition in my articles for two primary reasons: one, that new persons are continually being added to my international database and the other is that, according to writer Joe Swatek: “As much as we like our own companies and the work we do, the people who see our creations do not pin them on the bulletin board or tape them to the refrigerator. When they see the next one, they do not compare the two to see what is different.

“BUT – there is a better reason for consistent messages and it has to do with the human brain. Repetition. That is how we learn. When you were studying for tests in school, what did you do? You went over the textbook and you note repeatedly so you would remember the material. Repetition hardwires ideas into our brains. Repetition works for advertising, too. Why do you think major advertisers run the same TV commercials over and over? They want the idea and their product to stick in your head. Because of repetition, it works.”

As reported in my June 9, 2009 column: “The definition of the word ‘Shepherd’ in the Concise Oxford Dictionary has been traditionally ‘a man who tends sheep at pasture’ and this concept has been extended to a minister of religion who tends his congregational flock. The innovative CBET Shepherding Model™ and twin seed and equity capital concept, which emerged in the first decade of the 21st century, extends this definition to a man or woman who mentors an entrepreneur in the interest of enterprise development.

“At the Commonwealth Partnership for Technology Management Limited’s end of year ‘Open House’ in London in November 2008, I reported on this innovative model as follows: ‘We are seeking sustainable economic growth by encouraging the emergence of enterprises that have the potential to export their goods and services. Our new system, which we have launched just this month in Barbados, with very positive support from our new government, requires us to assign a ‘shepherd’ to an innovator or entrepreneur who seems to us to have the basis of a commercially promising project. This experienced shepherd (after conducting appropriate due diligence) shepherds the new enterprises to reduce their failure rate. The Seed and Equity capital funding is managed by a company which is operationally financially self-supporting and which facilitates the advance of funds through the shepherds as the entrepreneurs’ projects begin to gather momentum.”

Seven years later, I have observed that my repetition has had the effect of hardwiring the shepherding concept into the brains of many. I am often referred to by clients as “shepherd” and others now automatically promote the concept of shepherding as a risk mitigation method and seek mutually beneficial collaboration. I must, however, continue repeating the concept for those who are new to my database.

From Canada: “Agriculture is indeed a great opportunity for the Caribbean. The travails of Guyana’s sugar industry is an example of our failure to modernize agriculture and really take advantage of the market opportunities from sustainable development, the demand for organic foods, and the synergies from clean development.”

From Barbados: “Excellent article as expected. But what about the psycho-cultural aspects. The will is lacking. Protection from illegal reapers is lacking. These are the real reasons why these logical agricultural programmes never take off.”

My response: “I think that psycho-cultural aspects can be dealt with through positive affirmations of abundance; in addition, illegal reapers by farmer and distributor registration and by making it not worth the while of the illegal reapers by production and market expansion. The will is lacking from the policy makers. They are not serious.”

From Barbados: “My agricultural/environmental biotechnology company, Agribiotics, is in great need of restructuring in order to create the platform for growth that it desperately needs. Even though the potential for rapid growth and development is high on my agenda my company has some unique needs. I would like to thank you for this email… this is the first time you came home to me in one of your articles in such a critical way. I would like to meet with you…and really do think that with some shepherding from you Agribiotics can truly become a leader of biotechnology throughout the region.”

Next week, I shall share interesting small economy innovations from the Caribbean Pacific Agri-Food Forum in Barbados last week.
Let us ask for God’s blessings to “enlarge our territory”. May he open the doors of innovative agricultural sector opportunities in our lives so that we may be nutritiously fed, access finance in the most creative manner, create linkages in the shrinking global village, increase our levels of productivity, and contribute to the sustainability of mankind.

(Dr. Basil Springer GCM is Change-Engine Consultant, Caribbean Business Enterprise Trust Inc. – CBET. His columns may be found at www.cbetmodel.org and www.nothingbeatsbusiness.com.)