WHAT do a coffee farmer from Uganda and a deer farmer from Brecon have in common? At first thought it might seem both types of farming couldn’t be further apart. However, the similarities in challenges they each face are not so different – for starters both coffee plants and deer need shade from the sun to flourish. Opening the gates to her farm to explore these similarities and differences was FUW Brecon and Radnor county chairman Kath Shaw, who runs a 75-acre deer farm at Blaenhow farm, Llandeilo Graban, Builth Wells. Joining her for the day was Ugandan Fairtrade coffee farmer Nimrod Wambette. As part of Fairtrade Fortnight the two discussed the different styles of farming practises over a cup of fresh Arabica coffee grown by Nimrod and a Venison sausage bap made from Kath’s home-reared deer.
What became clear during their talk was that both wanted to see a fair price for their product, a thriving economy, the recognition of women in the industry and an industry that treats their producers with the respect and support they deserve. Kath, who farms about 45 home-bred breeding hinds, was born and grew up near London and although she didn’t come from a farming background she was always encouraged to be outside. In the autumn of 2004 she and her parents Fran and Kingsley Shaw, who were looking for a retirement project, bought Blaenhow farm. A field was quickly fenced and the first 12 hinds were introduced soon afterwards. Sadly, Kath’s father was killed in a car accident the following spring after completing the conversion of existing buildings to suitable winter accommodation for the deer. The herd, which includes two breeding stags, is run in two groups and Kath shares her farming duties with a job as administrative assistant at the FUW’s Brecon and Radnor county office on the Royal Welsh Showground at Llanelwedd. All the venison animals are sold live to the Welsh Venison Centre in Bwlch and slaughtered in Talgarth. The meat is then distributed to local pubs, restaurants and shops or sold through the Welsh Venison Centre farm shop. Following the visit Kath said: “While our produce and farming methods are on the one hand extremely different, there are many similarities between major issues of concern. “Despite our differences, the principle that a farmer should receive a fair price for his produce transcends international boundaries, and is one that we should all support, whether as individuals or as organisations. “Obviously, Welsh farmers do not grow tea, coffee and spices and that’s one reason why the FUW has linked up with Fair Trade Wales to support the key message: ‘If you can’t buy local produce, buy Fairtrade produce’. “It was really interesting to hear how much Nimrod is also doing for women in farming and some of the problems they are facing in Uganda are similar to what I have had to deal with in the past with regards to prejudice – being a female farmer. “It is all about making a difference, step by step. Following this principle recognises ways of supporting small scale producers – whether in underdeveloped countries of the Third World or right here in Wales. “The FUW believes Welsh farmers who want a fair price for their produce should also want a fair price for coffee farmers in other countries.” Nimrod Wambette, who is in his late 50s and married with seven children, is the son of a peasant farmer who has lived and grown coffee all his life at the foothills of Mt Elgon in Eastern Uganda.
His father, 88, had three small coffee gardens from which he raised school fees for their education. He is a retired headmaster and a part-time Arabica coffee farmer. He is a member of the Konokoyi Growers’ Cooperative Society, his local cooperative, and of the Gumutindo Coffee Cooperative Enterprise, their larger regional cooperative. He is currently the chair of Cafe Direct Producers Foundation UK. Gumutindo means undisputed quality of pure washed Arabica coffee of high density and distinctive cup. “Since joining the Fairtrade family, the horizon for us small farmers looks brighter with each harvest. “The benefits include a price which is shielded from falling below $1.21, and a social premium for economic and social projects which benefit all people who live in the coffee growing areas.” FUW South Wales finance and organisation committee delegate Brian Bowen, who also attended the visit, said: “In 2008 Wales became the first ever Fair Trade Nation and the FUW announced its support for Fairtrade at the Royal Welsh Winter Fair in December that year. “Since then we have been working closely with Fair Trade Wales to highlight the need for farmers all over the world to get paid a fair price so that food security can be achieved across the globe. “It was a pleasure to hear how Nimrod farms his coffee and it tasted fantastic and even I was surprised to learn how much we have in common with farmers across the globe. “I enjoyed a very informative day at Blaenhow farm and as for the Venison sausages – I encourage everyone to try this premium product.”