Tag Archives: FRICH project

Import – export business: LEAF travels well

LEAF Marque Technical Manager, Anthony Goggin, recently travelled to Senegal as part of the FRICH project. Here he tells us all about his trip.

There’s no doubt that LEAF principles travel very well indeed. I saw this first hand in sunny Senegal in North West Africa recently, a country which is fast becoming a very important exporter of quality fresh produce to Europe.

After an overnight stay in Senegal’s capital, Dakar, it was a 4 hour drive up to St Louis the next morning. Known as the ‘Venice of Africa’ for being built on a collection of islands, St Louis has markets brimming with fruits such as melons.

Just inland, in the flat land south of the River Senegal, is the 100 hectare farm managed by Soldive, a French-based company that grows melons in Europe, the Caribbean and Africa.

I met with the Soldive’s Technical Manager, Lionel Payen and his Senegalese colleague and Production Manager, Mohammed Gaye. Together they manage planting the crop in the field, weeks of precise fertigation and careful agronomy through to harvesting and pack-house operations ready for shipping to Europe in just eight days. I was able to see first hand the care they take at each stage of production and their commitment to the highest standards. The melon business provides much needed employment and the canal that brings water from the Senegal river to the melon fields also brings water to the community which means they can now grow their own crops nearby. I saw plots bursting with chilli peppers, tomatoes, onions and peanuts.

These West African farmers, just like those I met in Kenya last year, were very interested to know more about the principles of Integrated Farm Management (IFM) and to hear about it in action in the UK and other parts of the world. I was able to show the African IFM films that have been developed through the FRICH project we are involved in.

As in the UK, there’s nothing like a farm walk to really get discussions going. I took the Soldive team to visit a Senegalese farm in the same area that has already adopted LEAF’s Integrated Farm Management and had their farm certified to the LEAF Marque Standard. The farm is named SCL, part owned by UK’s Barfoots of Botley, and we had a good few hours walking through their crops of sweetcorn, asparagus and sweet potato. We heard from Celine Frouin, Head of Agronomy at SCL, about why and how she farms the LEAF way.

You can hear more about LEAF’s work in Africa in our series of podcasts, produced for the project, here.

LEAF, in partnership with Waitrose, Green Shoots Productions, British & Brazilian, Blue Skies, Sunripe and Wealmoor have been working with sub-Saharan African farmers now for nearly 3 years. The FRICH project’s overall objective is, “Improving the prosperity and sustainability of small farmers through the adoption of Integrated Farm Management (IFM) to the LEAF Marque Standard.”

More about this FRICH project and others can be found on the DfiD website.

The Food Retail Industry Challenge Fund

The Food Retail Industry Challenge Fund, also known as FRICH, is run by the Department for International Development (DFID) . The fund  helps bring UK retailers and African farmers together to help improve the longer term prosperity of their farms .

It’s all about innovation, new ways of doing things, looking at economic and social sustainability.  LEAF, in partnership with Waitrose , Green Shoots,  British & Brazilian, Blue Skies, Sunripe and Wealmoor have been working with sub-Saharan African farmers now for just over a year

Our project is all about  supporting  African farmers to learn more about sustainable farming , improve their yields and increase the income they earn from their crops.  We’ve been travelling to Kenya and offering practical training in soil and water management, energy use and crop protection.   We’re also encouraging them to become LEAF Marque certified which will help them secure valuable contracts with UK retailers.

One of the farmers we’ve been working with is Anthony Mucheke. Anthony is a green bean farmer in Kenya and it has been hard for him to to make enough money to support his family because of the fluctuations in the market

Green bean farming helps the community in lots of ways. In the past, the produce buyers were only interested in the quality and safety of the beans. But now, through our involvement with FRICH,  we have a partnership with a European company and they’re really interested in the quality of the land and the life of the community, as well as the quality of the beans and peas.

– Anthony Mucheke, Green bean farmer, Kenya

The FRICH project really addresses these issues and helps farmers to farm in a more sustainable way, whilst giving them the credentials that will help them secure and maintain contracts with retailers, which in turn, brings much needed resources back into the local community. It’s a project that we’re really proud to be involved in.

LEAF’s Comments on the Government’s Natural Environment White Paper

LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming) welcomed the publication yesterday (June 7) of the Government’s Natural Environment White Paper (NEWP).  “The first on the natural environment for over 20 years, it places the value of nature at the centre of the choices our nation must take”, stated the Rt Hon Caroline Spelman MP, “to enhance our environment, economic growth and personal wellbeing.”

Speaking after the launch, Caroline Drummond, LEAF Chief Executive congratulated the government on drawing together the many and varied comments from over 1500 submissions to the consultation into one document, addressing one common aim – mainstreaming the value of nature across our society. Continue reading