Generally we have to make sure that we are accepted as well as needed by the Panamanian community. We can achieve this by
Are we safe in Panama?
If you intend to leave your home, your culture and your familiar structures and if you are willing to leave your friends and family members behind, you certainly want to make sure that the decision you are making is the right one. Therefore, I am often asked why I assume that Panama would be safer than Western Countries in the event of a crash and whether the Panamanians would not attack us if need would arise on their side.
For a long time I have been thinking about the time after the crash and what would possibly happen then. The fact that rainforest-invest is the only company that employs people from our neighboring village of Garnadera is undoubtedly a bonus, but it’s not enough to be safe here after “SHTF”. For that reason, we have to think about a special concept, since we know what people are capable of doing when it comes to survival, and since it is obvious that local people don’t need strangers to plant bananas or yuca, as they can do that on their own. Consequently, we must ask ourselves what we can do – together with the local people – to survive the crash at Finca Bayano and to live together in harmony with the Panamanians. The answer is very simple: Apart from the production of goods for our own needs, as well as for selling – if that still will be possible by then – we have to realize projects which are not only in our interest but also in the interest of the local population. In this way, our presence, after the crash, will be an advantage to the Panamanians, too. Also, we have to specialize in things like Aquaponics which could not be done without our help. This is how a certain dependency arises on us after the day X. For lack of information, the locals cannot imagine what a crash means and if they were informed, they would lack the means to prepare themselves. This is exactly where we have to come in, because in this respect we have a decisive advantage: we know what is ahead for us – at least we try to imagine – and we have the means to prepare ourselves at Finca Bayano.
Today, the pay of my workers is a positive contribution to the village. They earn about $400 per month, and if they don’t waste the money, or if they don’t have to support a big family, they can save quite a bit. After the crash, money might not be in circulation anymore and people will have to find some other solution. Even in this regard, we might benefit quite a lot if we use our knowledge to prepare and if we get prepared in time. Certainly, there are many things which will be needed by then and which we could stock before “SHTF” and trade them in afterwards. Bush knives are most probably the most important thing to have.
Our neighbors live in their own houses and they have their own garden with a number of chickens. Basic health care is free in Panama, electricity is cheap, water is almost free and there are hardly any cars in the village. Those who do not have the opportunity to work in the city, or prefer to stay in the countryside, live very modestly. The poorest Panamanians – maybe 5% of them – are living in a way that modern people would possibly imagine to be the time after “SHTF”: they live in mud huts without running water and they don’t have electricity, they walk around barefoot and rarely see a doctor, they can’t afford to eat much meat and they hardly have any overweight. But they own a small piece of land on which they produce almost everything they need. As a result, their fall hight after the day X will be much lower than that of city dwellers, as the standard of living of the poorest cannot fall much further.
In a way, it’s a very big advantage for us to be able to observe these scenes today. It is gratifying to see that these people are absolutely peaceful because the natural conditions are optimal: The climate allows year-round food production and the land is sparsely populated. That’s why there is no reason for disputes that arise primarily in connection with modern life between modern people and that’s what leads to modern crime rates. There are tough conditions in Panama City, but there are hardly any problems in our area. A chicken may end up unlawfully in someone else’s sauce pan, but serious crimes are not an issue in our area.
It remains to be seen how things will be after “SHTF” – whether the transport system, electricity and other achievements of modern society will still be working. It is possible that police and administrative forces will be restructured or will only function to a limited extent. For this reason, in particular, harmony with the local population is the basic prerequisite for our future.
What can we do?
We can do a number of different things, to justify our presence in Panama. First and foremost, the cultivation of food is very important. Since imports may no longer be possible after “SHTF”, the production of agricultural tools is even more important. Without shovels and forks it would be difficult to work. Without bush knives, however, the production of food is totally unthinkable. Furthermore, we can use available machines and tools to manufacture clothing and building materials on the basis of our knowledge.
Rice is subsidized in Panama and sufficient quantities of food are being produced with the help of chemicals today. After a crash, that might be different, when imports are no longer possible and chemical fertilizers will no longer be available. Therefore, bottlenecks in the production of food could even happen in Panama, however, a famine should not to be expected due to enormous areas of land. At the latest, when there are major disruptions in Europe, we should have developed Finca Bayano to such an extent that we are able to sell food to locals or to trade it in. First and foremost, I am thinking of aquaponic farming systems that can produce fish and vegetables with relatively small amounts of water. Especially in bad times, a balanced diet will play an important role. In this context the importance of edible oil has to be mentioned. From the end 2018 we should be able to produce oil from sunflowers and peanuts.
Soil regeneration with organic fertilizer
An important reason why Panama is so well suited to be location for the Finca Bayano project is the fact that the relative size of available agricultural land to population is much larger than in industrialized countries. In addition, it can be used much better because of the climatic conditions. Unfortunately, chemicals for food production have also been used here, so that it will take years for the affected agricultural areas to recover. Therefore, the rapid regeneration of the soil after “SHTF” is one of the biggest challenges: Food producers, who nowadays are only competitive using chemicals, will have to change directly after the crash and resort to the much more complex natural production methods of their grandparents. At this point in time, we will be able to pass on our experience with soil improvement. Many thousands of false sunflowers, Heliopsis helianthoides, and different reeds are growing at Finca Bayano and can be used as seedlings to help to revive depleted soils for organic cultivation. Both plants, false sunflowers as well as reeds, are considered to be useless weeds by the Panamanians and are therefore being destroyed. Conversely, my aim is to double the quantity of these mulch plants every year in order to have sufficient fertilizer available in the immediate vicinity of all crops in the future. More than 100,000 mulch plants are already growing at Finca Bayano.
At the latest, when worldwide distortions are to be expected, we should seek cooperation with authorities. If we succeed in convincing them that our method of soil regeneration is the best one, we will be on the safe side. Not only do we justify our presence then, but there is a justified hope that we will still be driving when others will not get any more fuel. By then at the latest, we will benefit from the fact that Finca Bayano has been operated organically for years.
All commercial food producers are dependent on the use of chemicals, too, when it comes to the production of meat, as that’s the only way how to keep up the competition with other producers. A kilogram of commercial chicken costs about three dollars, whereas the same amount of halfway organically produced meat in the countryside costs at least twice as much. Nevertheless, chickens are hardly sold for six dollars a kilo, because selling it at this price doesn’t make sense. A real organic chicken would have to cost an estimated ten dollars per kilo, which is three times the price of a commercial chicken. However, consumers cannot accept such a high price. On the one hand, they simply do not have the money, and on the other, there are still too few consumers who understand where their allergies and cancer are coming from. For that reason, the market for organic food is only existing in Panama City. In the coming years, we will be able to make a significant contribution to improving the organic range with our products.
Leather goods are mostly imported. Although a lot of cows are being slaughtered in Panama, it’s only saddles that are made out of the leather. Most of the hides and skins, from which high-quality leather goods could be made, are exported, whereas inferior products are imported; China sends its greetings. After “SHTF”, this will change and I hope we will arrange for that business in time. On the one hand, it is too early to import machines for the manufacture of shoes or other leather goods, because our products would not be competitive with Chinese goods. But if we wait too long, there will be no more machines to import.
More important than animals and plants are tools because they are needed to cultivate the land. A life without a machete, the Panamanian bush knife, is absolutely unthinkable. Even today it’s the farmers’ most important tool. We should therefore be able to produce tools from scrap metal. In Africa, I witnessed how bonnets were turned into cooking pots. This is not a real challenge, because the sheet metal is thin, but nevertheless there are certain minimum requirements such as special tools and a portion of imagination to process scrap metal. Temporarily, there will be enough material to forge machetes, pitchforks and other tools. But we have to prepare ourselves for this, because forging a spoon from a crankshaft with a campfire is impossible without the necessary knowledge.
Of course, there are other possibilities which I have not mentioned here. For example could we cultivate medicinal plants, because after “SHTF” there will probably be bottlenecks in the field of conventional medicines. Also, we can use jaw crushers to produce gravel for building roads and it’s possible digging wells for water supply as well as to building water pumps, dams and many more things.
Foreigners with a residence permit can apply for a weapons licence in Panama. Once granted that permission you’re allowed to own and carry hand firearms. I recommend applying for a firearms licence immediately after the residence permit has been issued. The cost is $600.
Generally it makes a lot of sense to be able to defend yourself. During bad times, it makes all the more sense. You should have a minimum outfit for this, which could serve as a deterrent, as we do not need weapons to attack, but rather to prevent being attacked. In the past, I also assumed that it was not desirable to possess weapons, but I have fundamentally revised this opinion. The good times are eventually over and unfortunately there are too many people whose intentions are bad.
Anyone who has understood that even the security of recent decades has been financed by debt also understands that this security can no longer exist once the state is bankrupt.
Only those who adapt will be able to survive the crash!