Bevon Chadel Charles: Modeling Sustainable Farming in the Caribbean
Hi everyone, Spiffy here, your one and only interplanetary journalist reporting from Planet Earth. I’m thrilled to be in the Caribbean, talking to an entrepreneur chiseling away at UN SDG#2: Zero Hunger. Bevon Chadel Charles, founder and CEO of Akata Farms is working to make the world a better place. Are you ready to be enlightened?
Spiffy: Welcome Bevon! Let’s jump right in, can you tell me what challenge you are addressing?
Bevon: Thanks for speaking with me, Spiffy! Akata Farms is motivated to create sustainable food systems that can reduce hunger and create sustainable growth and development. Our mission is to start sustainable model farms, implement ICT and technology, protect the environment and land by use of climate smart agriculture practices, develop value added products that can link agriculture to tourism, and create employment opportunities for all. With these goals, it is important to access land and resources to bring these ideas into a reality. The youth need to see an example of agriculture that is the oxygen—not the backbone—of economies. Akata Farms is passionate about ending hunger, ending poverty, building smart and resilient communities, and using innovation to change generations.
Spiffy: This sounds stellar! Can you tell me what motivated you to start Akata Farms?
Bevon: Well, Spiffy, my father has been a farmer for more than 45 years. I grew up surrounded by agriculture, seeing its beauty and its challenges. I witnessed the economic and social issues that affected my country and I believe that by building sustainable enterprises, opportunities can be afforded for all. Grenada's economy can be strengthened with agriculture: the Caribbean region can significantly reduce its imports, and the wider world can capture market opportunities that can develop to transform lives, societies and countries. Agriculture for me is the essence of growth and patriotism.
Spiffy: How would you say that you are working to create a more equitable world?
Bevon: Akata Farms wants to build sustainable farms across the Caribbean and the world. We do this by obtaining land and creating diverse production for targeted markets. Akata Farms has already secured 68.5 acres of an estate that was one of the island's first nutmeg producers. The operation will be centered around producing a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, tubers, root crops, exotic flowers, animals, and other value added products to create an ecosystem of techniques that will drive visitors to the site. The plan also enables the placement of more than 60 young people in jobs, and 40 into opportunities within the agriculture and tourism sectors. Even students can experience agriculture and see how technology can transform the industry.
Akata Farms tomatoes growing in a greenhouse. (Image courtesy of Akata Farms)
Spiffy: Are there any recent milestones you’re really excited about?
Bevon: Akata Farms and I recently won the Commonwealth Youth Award for the Caribbean—an achievement largely due to our vision for the future of Grenada's economy and the agricultural industry. This milestone has enabled us to capture market opportunities and build a wider network. Akata Farms has also been the recipient of several training courses in business management and growth.
Spiffy: I always need to ask entrepreneurs about failure! Can you tell me about a time when you faced failure and didn't give up?
Bevon: Akata Farms started in 2014. Six months later it failed. At that time our limited operation site was unable to meet the demands of produce; lack of resources further reduced our ability to manage the business. This failure and many other obstacles helped refine our vision and strengthen our resilience to continue our mission, regardless of what comes. It showed me the need to plan, set realistic goals, and share my ideas. It is important to delegate work and build a team.
Spiffy: Well said! What is something unexpected you’ve learned from someone recently?
Bevon: I recently learned that another person’s perception of you is not often the reality. People will act in a particular way when all is good and, until faced with adversity, only those who are true will remain steadfast and loyal. This is important in business.
Spiffy: Before we sign off, Bevon, is there anything else you would love to tell our audience?
Bevon: Yes, Spiffy, I really believe the world can be made a better place. That our children can have their every dream be made into a reality. Poverty can end. Violence can end. No person should go to sleep in the cold, hungry or scared. Not if we all make one decision to do good. I am trying to do good. We all need to help.
Spiffy: Every effort can have an impact! Thanks so much for sharing about the impacts you’re having on your country, region, and the world, Bevon. It’s been a real honor. Over and out!
Bevon Chadel Charles is the founder and CEO of Akata Farms, a company that builds and operates self-sustainable farms in Grenada. Bevon is an entrepreneur, agriculture enthusiast, passionate farmer, and youth advocate. She is Grenada’s first Country Representative of Young Professionals for Agriculture Development, an organization led by young advocates. (Nominated by One Young World. First published on the Ladderworks website on May 17, 2021.)
© 2021 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Jill Landis Jha. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. Follow Spiffy’s interviews of founders building a more equitable world here.