Tanya Robbins - Innovative women in today’s Agriculture
I farm in partnership with husband Tom on a tennanted farm of 150 acres in Gloucestershire. We also rent 250 acres of seasonal grazing for our 500 Easycare/Lleyn ewes and grow stubble turnips & fodder beet for finishing the lambs. These crops are followed by spring barley. The farm is in Entry Level stewardship and we are currently talking to our landlord in the hope of taking the farm into Higher Level Stewardship. We have two daughters, Lucy & Hannah, who are a huge help on the farm, especially during lambing. They will soon be having two North Cotswold hound puppies for walking.
I assist my father on his farm two days a week and have been passing over my responsibilities there to my sisters in readiness for my travel. Locally I am vice chair of Gloucestershire NFU, on the South West NFU Livestock Board, a RABI Glos committee member, Foundation governor of Temple Guiting Primary school and help with our local agricultural show at Moreton-in-Marsh.
Gloucestershire Farmers Trust kindly gave me a grant to attend the 2012 Challenge of Rural Leadership course run by The Worshipful Company of Farmers and I am truly thankful to Central Region Farmers Trust for being my Nuffield sponsor.
Last Day Here
Met Nagalakshmi an utterly amazing lady of Tamilnadu who in 13 years has created 25,000 entrepreneurs and completely changed, for the better, the lives of all school girls in India. It was such an honour to spend a few hours with her.
Packed, taxi booked and alarm set for 4.30am. So glad came here and huge thanks to the Nuffield connections of Jim Giltech, Dr. Mahli, Mr Pangli, Rajvinder, Ramesh, Sophie Stanley & Marc Jackson.
Time to get home and catch up with Tom, Lucy & Hannah.
Pollachi to Coimbature to Chennai
No internet last two nights, but now in Chennai & good wifi. Lots of driving so good chance to find out more about host Ramesh. So fortunate he has arranged all visits here in South India & given up his time to be with us. An amazing business man producing organic fertilizer from sugar cane factories, a banana export co & established cropping advisory teams. See his website www.varunagri.com
Past lots of wind turbines on way to Pollachi area. Meet lady farmer with 50 acres of coconuts, coco and nutmeg below mountain. Wild elephant get through the fence and damage her trees. Discover farmers have free electricity. Coconuts are 80% of her business with coco & nutmeg trees intercropping as they need the shade. She sells coco seeds to Cadbury's. Has a lovely very old landrover! Took us for walk round farm & gave us lunch.
Next stop is farming couple where wife is farmer with 4 milking cows, coconut trees and some coco plants on 20 acres. Contractors come in twice a day to hand milk the cows and take milk. Cows are tethered over night on concrete roofed area then let out to graze as this is a ring fenced farm, quite a rarity that I have seen. They have anerobic digester using 2 buckets of cow muck, urine etc a day poured into black plastic tank where sun heats it and gas taken off to run cooker. Have an original white 1960's car.
This morning 7am visit to organic veg farm on outskirts of Coimbature. Owned by an industralist family the wife runs the farming enterprise growing green leaves sold on their market stall in the city, an essential ingredient for all cooking here. There is an organic farm shop stocking medicines & other organic products as well as their own vegetables. They also own a dairy farm with about 10 cows and buy in other milk that they package in half litre plastic bags for shops to sell. The organic market is not big here but as more of the population become 'middle class' this may increase.
Quick flight to Chennai. Staying in very 'regal' Metropolitan hotel. Had supper in authentic restaurant - have learnt to eat indian style and quite like food now. Can't believe tomorrow is last full day here.
4 innovative women & a sit on an elephant
An other productive day of study. Ramesh kindly found four wonderful women for me to meet. The first lady is a banana farmer using modern plant stock & production methods. Her husband is totally supportive. The next lady was widdowed at a very young age and without any family help she raised her daughter and learnt how to run a successfull grape farm. She earnt enough to pay for her daughter's education and to pay for teacher training. Next met a dynamic wife of a fruit trader. This lady organises up to 40 teams of pickers and deals with all the business accounts.
Had a lovely afternoon being a tourist. We drove up a mountain through bamboo jungle, saw monkeys and all had ride on an elephant. The day ended with a lovely meal in Ramesh's family home.