MALAWI – A farm visit from a Malawi sugar producer has put the importance of fair trade and “realistic financial returns” under the spotlight in West Wales.
Farmers learned of the similar challenges faced by African farmers when Allan Saidi, a sugarcane grower travelled over from Malawi to visit an organic dairy farm near Cardigan earlier this month.
Mr Saidi showed how adverse weather, production costs, prices and social well-being of farmers are concerns whether in Africa or thousands of miles away in Wales, according to dairy farmer Aled Rees who hosted the visit.
Drawing on ten years of farming experience, Mr Saidi discussed how fair trade initiatives are assisting people with the poverty struggle back home.
He said: “Sugar is grown as a mono-crop and is generally the main source of income for smallholder producers, who also grow food crops and keep livestock.
“Agriculture provides a livelihood for over 85 percent of the population, of which around 90 percent are smallholders.”
Many Malawians live in mud huts with thatched roofs, having to cope with a poor infrastructure and a lack of extension services and technology, he added.
Reacting to the visit, Farmers Union Wales President, Emyr Jones called for equal global priority for fairtrade for farmers like Allan and farmers in the UK.
Mr Jones said: “As much as the union and every farmer in the UK want a fair price for dairy, meat and arable produce in the market place we also want to see farmers like Allan get a fair price for his products.”
Mr Saidi oversees how fairtrade-funded community projects should allocate resources as part of his role as secretary of the Fairtrade Premium Committee.
Agriculture minister, Rebecca Evans, said: “It was a pleasure to meet Allan last week and hear about how Fairtrade is transforming lives and helping people out of poverty in Malawi.
“Becoming the first Fair Trade Nation was a huge moment for Wales. It showed the world that we are an outward-looking, compassionate country which cares about ensuring farmers and food producers receive a fair deal wherever they are.”
Sugar’s huge importance on economies as a cash-crop has been seen first-hand by FUW policy officer Helen Ovens in Uganda. She stressed this is the case even on very small scale enterprises.
She added: “Allan and his fellow farmers produce a particularly high value product – that being organic, fair trade sugar.
“The quality of this product, and the real tangible benefits to his community that arise from us purchasing products with a Fair Trade logo should not be underestimated.”
“Farmers across the world need to receive a realistic financial return for their products, whether that be sugarcane from a small farm in southern Malawi, or milk from a dairy farm in west Wales. It has been a pleasure to see Aled and Allan exchange farming experiences, increasing each other’s understanding of their own farming circumstance.”
TheCattleSite News Desk