The Ministry of Agriculture
by Dr. Ridgely Abdul Mu'min Muhammad
In The Name of Allah, The Beneficent , The Merciful
1. Goals, general functions, and priorities
Our major goal is to develop a sustainable agricultural system that would provide at least one meal per day, according to the teachings of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad for the 40 million black people in America. Also this system should provide the necessary raw materials for the production clothing and housing for the 40 million are more black people in America. This requires the attainment, proper utilization and conservation of the useful land and using science and technology to make the non-useful land useful.
We have estimated that it will require 51 million acres of land to provide enough food for one meal per day for 40 million people if that eat meat. If meat and milk is not including then the required land drops to 6.3 million acres of cropland or 9,852 square miles. To purchase 6.3 million acres of would require 6 billion dollars plus an additional 2 billion dollars for equipment. It would require at least 18,000 farmers with the proper equipment to run such operations.
However, black people still retain 2.5 million acres. We must began to consider that 2.5 million acres as a part of our responsibility to insure its proper utilization for the feeding or our people. Our 1600 acre farm in Georgia must be viewed as the catalyst for the development of our sustainable food and fiber production system. However, we should not look to this farm for our total food needs. We must encourage the development of alliances with the 18,000 black farmers still in operation along with purchasing more land and developing more farmers. To this end we present the first installment of the organizational structure and goals of the Ministry of Agriculture.
Our major short term priorities include : 1. Increase contributions to the Three Year Economic Program.. 2. Attain the proper equipment and facilities to make Muhammad Farms a viable enterprise, 3. Hire a farm manager and equipment repair specialist that are familiar with large scale farming operations, 4. Activate the Farm Marketing Coordinators to expand the market for our crops and for the crops of other black farmers, 5. Solve the transportation and storage problem that limits the marketability of our products, 6. Change the eating habits of our people so that we may service them, 7. Get more believers to volunteer service to the farm., 8. Develop an officers' training boot camp and youth camp, 9. Develop alliances with black farmers and organizations.
2. Organizational Structure
The organizational structure of the Ministry of Agriculture is supported by four major departments: 1. Administration and Finance, 2. Agricultural Production, 3. Farm Marketing, and 4. Agricultural Education. Under each major branch are separate functions or responsibilities of the divisions. In the future each of these functions may have individual staffs, however in the ministries infancy many of these functions will be carried out by a few individuals. For instance the Director of Agricultural Production will double as the Farm Manager.
The Minister of Agriculture is responsible for all the functions of the four departments in addition to three major responsibilities which are the recruitment and alliance of black farmers, use the systems approach to develop policies to insure sustainable development and continually analyze our values and priorities as they effect food security. The Minister of Agriculture must affect the perceptions of black people as relates to the value of agriculture and farming and how their individual behavior affects food security for all of us.
The Director of Administration and Finance is responsible for providing the necessary funding, fiscal controls and legal environment for the smooth operation of the other components of the Ministry of Agriculture as well as keeping the Minister of Agriculture constantly informed of our status. The priority of this department is to develop means and methods to increase donations to the Three Year Economic Program along with developing other fund raising activities. All legal and financial activities of the Ministry must be approved through this office.
The Director of Agricultural Production will be responsible for the farming and other related activities necessary for the production of food and fiber and will make written reports directly to the Minister of Agriculture. As we look for more land to acquire we must first make our 1600 acre farm a viable if not profitable unit. Profitability is dependent on market prices and as it stands most American farmers are being driven out of business because the cost of production is above the market price for most agricultural products. However, we must farm and that will require us to attain proper management and provide the necessary up to date equipment and buildings for not only the economical production of commodities, but to be a model farm as an example to black farmers both here and abroad. The farm manager must familiarize himself with the services and programs currently available from U.S.D.A. and network of land grant universities and extension services to insure that we stay up to date with the modern times until our own research efforts outstrips theirs.
The National Farm Marketing Coordinator plays pivotal point as to the success of the plans and goals of the ministry and will report directly to the Minister of Agriculture. The National Coordinator's responsibility is to provide markets and outlets for the products produced on Muhammad Farms and other black farm operations as we develop alliances and co-operative ventures with the Lost Found Nation of Islam. The National Farm Marketing Coordinator will be responsible for developing and maintaining a network of local Farm Marketing Coordinators from each Mosque and Study Group in the Nation. Transportation and the proper handling and storage has proven to be the major bottleneck for the success of our agricultural programs. Each Mosque must be encouraged to obtain sufficient transportation and storage facilities to accommodate the food customers for their cities.
The point person on the local level will be the local Farm Marketing Coordinator. All questions relating the Ministry of Agriculture will be filtered through them although their primary responsibility will be to coordinate the distribution of products. Regional Farm Marketing Coordinators will grow out of each region based on the maturity of their market development and infrastructure for handling the products. In other words you can not be considered a regional coordinator and you don't have sufficient customers and access to your own trucks and cold storage facilities. The Local Farm Marketing Coordinators should develop a support committee in their local Mosque or Study Group to help implement the plans of the Ministry which include the education of our people about what is happening to our food supply.The Director of Agricultural Education is responsible for educating the general body of believers and lost founds as to the urgency of becoming self-sufficient in providing food, clothing and shelter for the 40 million or more black people in America and will report directly to the Minister of Agriculture. Our present food supply is tainted and vulnerable but the desire and expertise necessary for turning the problem around is not forthcoming. A major priority of this department will be to develop educational materials and training to the Farm Marketing Coordinators for dissemination and broadcast to the larger body. More believers need to experience agriculture and farming therefore we want to establish a Boot Camp for all prospective officials for the Nation of Islam so that they might get a tasted of the price and value of freedom. This person will work closely with the farm manager to schedule volunteers to help and learn more about farming. Each summer we need to have a Youth Camp at Muhammad Farms to provide the same type of experience for our young to give them a greater appreciation for nation building. This department will also develop contacts with the black Land Grant Institutions to set up co-op programs where college students can get credit for doing research at Muhammad Farms. Eventually we would like Muhammad Farms to be the site for an extension of the Muhammad University of Islam emphasizing agricultural and vocational training.
3. Staffing needs, qualifications, function, reporting structure and evaluationAs state above each of the functions listed under the four departments will require staffing. However we will present the minimal requirements for the first few years.
A. Department of Administration and Finance.
1. Full-time Director: B.A. in Accounting or related field. The functions have been highlighted above and will report directly to the Minister of Agriculture and provide reports to the National Representative and National Board of Laborers as required. The major criteria for evaluation is whether the money is coming in and if the books are in order.
2. Part-time Assistant to the Director: B.A. in accounting or related field. This person functions as a helper to the director in what ever capacity as needed to accomplish the goals of that department and will be evaluated on an annual basis accordingly.
B. Department of Agricultural Production.
1. Full-time farm manager with experience in operating a 1,000 acre or larger farm preferably in the south due to its peculiar climatic and soil conditions. He must give quarterly written reports to the Minister of Agriculture and will act as the Director of Agricultural Production until we acquire more farm operations. At that point each farm will have its own farm manager who would then report to the Director. The farm manager is responsible for producing a yearly farm plan to be approved by the Minister of Agriculture. Evaluation will be based on the volume of products produced, reduction of weeds, increased productivity of the soil, safety of the products produced and efficiency of production based on cost of production estimates.
2. Full-time equipment specialist who can determine proper equipment and building needs for our farming operations and maintain such capital investments. This person will work directly with the farm manager to help determine equipment needs based on the farm plan and will keep under repair all buildings and equipment. This of course would require knowledge of diesel engine repair, welding, shop maintenance and minor parts fabrication. We must reduce the use of outside repair shops as much as possible. Timeliness of repairs is essential to the smooth operations of a farm and the evaluation of this function will be based on the field readiness of all equipment.
3. Two full-time farm laborers who can drive tractors and do manual field work. These workers will carry out orders given by the farm manager in terms of equipment and field operations and will work with the equipment repair specialist in maintaining such equipment and facilities. They will be evaluated by the farm manager in terms of efficiency and willingness to work hard and cheerfully under sometimes harsh conditions.
C. Farm Marketing
1. One full-time National Farm Marketing Coordinator experienced with sale and marketing of agricultural commodities. The National Farm Marketing Coordinator will be the liaison between our farming operations and the Local Farm Marketing Coordinators in each Mosque and Study Group to get our crops sold and distributed in and efficient manner. Yearly evaluation will be based on volume of products moved and the prices received in the market.
2. Local Farm Marketing Coordinators will be at the point of attack in terms of distribution of the farm products. It is proposed that they will receive a 5% discount on the gross sales of the products delivered to them as compensation. When a particular city becomes a hub distribution center for other cities, they will receive another 2% discount for facilitating such activities.
D. Agricultural Education.
1. One part-time person will help with the collection and dissemination of information related to agriculture and the food supply. The Director of Agricultural Education will work directly under the Minister of Agriculture as needed and may be on a seasonal basis. One major function of the director would be to schedule visits to the farm of volunteers and to be the agricultural specialist for the proposed boot camp and youth camp on Muhammad Farms. He/she will be evaluated by the number of contact hours of those either visiting/volunteering at the farm or attending educational functions sponsored by this department.
Back to Task Force