One of the best bits about my job is catching up with old friends around the world. Last month, when I was working for Tetley in Tanzania, I ran a workshop with smallholder farmers on climate change and mitigation. I hadn’t been to this part of the country for several years and it was a pleasure to return and see the great development taking place, especially amongst the smallholder community.
One of the attendees was a lady who I had met 12 years ago when I worked for Cafedirect and who had travelled to the UK and stayed with my parents for Fairtrade Fortnight some years ago. Communication is challenging and although we still exchange news in Christmas cards, it was fantastic to get the opportunity to meet up with her again! Cecelia is quite correctly, extremely proud of her achievements in the tea industry and considers herself to be a Fairtrade ambassador, encouraging other women producers across the world to strive for bigger and better! In Cecelia’s case, she has used the money earned from selling great quality Fairtrade tea to educate both of her daughters through school and on to University – she knows no boundaries!
Smallholders in Southern Tanzania are amongst the more ‘traditional’ type with no more than 1 acre of land, often supporting up to 6 or 7 family members. The land is split in cash crops, ie tea and then crops for food security such as sorghum, maize, bananas and fruit trees. Cecelia is no exception and there isn’t an inch to spare on her ‘patch’ – everything is encouraged to thrive under her green fingers! She’s also extremely proud of her pigs and cows – a great example of self sufficiency!
I probably shouldn’t be sharing this next bit but when I saw her she was really keen to take me to show off her potatoes. I was slightly surprised but when we arrived at the field she laughed and told me that they were a crop from the ‘Irish potatoes’ (new crop) that we had seen together at our local agricultural college in Herefordshire years ago! Obviously a few had been slipped into her pocket and grown in sunnier climes in Tanzania – ingenious!