‘Farming needs a touch of diversity’

MORE ethnic minorities should find their way into the predominantly white and middle class world of farming, according to the country’s best known black farmer.

Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones, who runs the Black Farmer brand, said the country's agricultural industry would benefit greatly if more people from ethnic minorities and urban areas started farms.

The Conservative parliamentary candidate for Chippenham in Wiltshire argued the farming industry needed “new ideas”.

He said: “The big thing the farming community needs is fresh blood.

“The relationship with the consumer has been lost because of the rise of supermarkets over the last 20 years.

People from ethnic communities and urban environments know what food people as a community want and they could produce it.


Change is essential to bring more interesting ideas into farming.”

Mr Emmanuel-Jones moved to the UK from Jamaica in 1961 when he was just four years old. He was inspired to become a farmer by watching his father tend to his allotment in Birmingham as a child.

He said many ethnic foods are imported to the UK and argued that if farmers were producing it locally they could discover a cash cow.

He added: “People from ethnic minorities should group together and buy their own land.”

It can be seen how many, like Mr. Emanuel-Jones' father, tend allotments and how the entire families decamp to their on the weekends and other times tending their gardens. In many areas of the country there seem to be now more members of ethnic minorities that have allotments than do “whites”.

If one can bring social or ethnic minorities into farming it will help it to cope with all kinds of challenges in the future.

This could also be a good idea for many of the Romani-Gypsy families in the UK (and elsewhere), that is to say to buy farms,especially those in need of lots of TLC (which may not cost that much then). The large clans would do well to do that and in the same way this could combat the apparent government housing policy to break up the “large” Gypsy families, destroying the family structure and with it the Romani Culture.

The faming industry in this country, and not just in this country, is still dominated by a certain clique of white, middle class people. Diversity really benefits all sorts of organisations and businesses, but not really agriculture.

Many of the Romani probably will be reading this and wondering as to whether this writer has lost his marbles and probably think “we are not farmers”. Why not?

The Romani in the UK traditionally worked on farms and many, I am sure, could run farms as well and efficient as the non-Romani.

There are many Rom that are farmers in other EU countries, even in Germany, and many have been for generations. So, what's keeping you?

Getting hold of farms in need of TLC also would enable many of the families to atch together in one place and, with the right attitude to the farming neighbors, I am sure, Rom could be as accepted as others who set up farms.

Michael Smith (Veshengro), January 2008