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Dr. Colin Hudson

February 27 Richard Hoad (Weekend Nation) by Richard Hoad

“THEY have sown the wind and they will reap the whirlwind. Their corn crop stands there barren with no grain; if it produces any, foreigners will eat it.” Hosea 8:7

There is a cart-road opposite where Combermere School is but wasn't many years ago. Many years ago a boy drove into that cart-road one night. Exactly one minute, fifty-eight seconds later a young man drove out, dizzy from a whirlwind encounter.

On my first day at work, I drove into that same cart-road. Sugar Producers had an experimental plot there. A strange sight met the eye. In bright sunshine, a white man in a black rain-coat was rushing hither and thither, getting sloshed by irrigation sprinklers.

Suddenly he raced across a nearby field where the canes bad been cut, a virtual bat out of hell with black raincoat streaming behind. A whirlwind had picked up a swirl of cane-trash. He was trying to catch it.

That was my first introduction to Colin Hudson and those two incidents epitomise his approach to life. If you want to see exactly where the water is falling you have to get in there and get wet. If you want to know what a whirlwind feels like, you have to get inside one to find out.

That was almost 40 years ago. Since then our paths have crossed from time to time as he moved from sugar cane agronomist through equipment inventor to the bigger picture of sustainable lifestyles and trying to stop man destroying our planet. Colin's contribution has been extraordinary and it wont be easy to replace his boundless energy, encyclopaedic knowledge and willingness to share expertise.

Yet Colin Hudson, like the rest us who dare stand in front of the runaway freight trains of greed and “development” will have failed in his mission. Water restrictions have come early this year but will any Bajans follow his example and install waterless toilets to save this precious resource? (Water, not food, is the commodity over which man will fight in the future, Colin kept reminding us.)

Who will sort, recycle and reuse garbage to avoid landfill mountains? Who will “tread lightly” on the world's rapidly disappearing resources? Who will save what's left of our agricultural land, so we can feed ourselves?

The loss of agricultural land was one of Colin's greatest nightmares and he kept highlighting the staggering statistics. Who cares?

The fisherfolk who farm the sea are bemoaning the loss of their fishing grounds. Government is doing its utmost to protect them. Yet it allows good agricultural land to be bulldozed for development while unproductive land is available.

Recently the music artistes vowed not to record any music because their CDs were being pirated and their “intellectual property” stolen. The police are taking action.

Compare the farmers' constant cry in the wilderness for help against crop thieves. They invest heavily in seed, fertiliser, weeding, spraying, put in back-breaking labour in the broiling sun. Only to wake one morning and find their crops gone.

Some spend thousands on security firms with dogs and guards. Some get awakened in the dead of night by a call from a watchman and must strap on a gun and go out to face the intruders. They have been threatened, beaten and stabbed. Passersby descend on cane-fields and take their fill. The farmer isn't supposed to object.

Big and small have suffered. I watched old Ma Hurley in her 80s step off the bus in time to see three coconut vendors load a bunch of coconuts from her only tree onto their truck. And when she took it off they chucked her to one side and drove off with it.

Farmers must take the law into their own hands. One guy caught two thieves escaping with his vegetables. He chased and rammed their brand new Suzuki van to a pulp with his jeep. Finally the driver jumped out and took off like Oba. Only to see his one-legged accomplice whizz past and disappear into the distance. That is facts.

Their corn crop stands barren, said Hosea, and if it produces any grain, foreigners will eat it. They didn't heed Hosea, we didn't heed Colin, we shall reap the whirlwind.

Tread lightly, my brother.

• Richard Hoad is a farmer and social commentator

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