By Olivia Cooper

PRINCE CHARLES has urged farmers to change the way they do things and learn new skills if they are to meet the challenges posed by CAP Reform.

In a letter to the Women”s Food and Farming Union”s 25th annual general meeting on Tues, Mar 15, the Prince said farmers” wives were often the ones with new ideas while their husbands were more hesitant about changing their circumstances.

 “If farmers are to meet the challenges and seize the opportunities of the mid-term review, then they must be prepared to change the way they have done things and learn new skills so that they can add value to their produce wherever possible,” he wrote to the conference in Cornwall.

“An emphasis on marketing skills and, indeed, the potential benefits to be gained from far greater co-operative and collaborative activity is, I am sure, something that the WFU is best placed to provide in this challenging environment.”

Prince Charles added that everyone who cared about the countryside had a duty to help ensure a secure future for British agriculture, and particularly for family farmers. “They are the backbone of the cultural, economic and social life on which our rural communities depend and which we must do all in our power to preserve.”

WFU president Gillian van der Meer said that farmers needed to embrace new cultures and markets within Britain and claimed to be making history by hosting a black lady speaker at an agricultural conference.

 Mama Toro Adeniran-Kane, of the rural cultural forum, said there were more than 2m women of African descent in the UK, offering huge potential for British produce. There was great demand for lamb for African recipes and even butter for use as a hair product, she said.

 The WFU has also been working with Bengali women in East London over the past year to help meet their demand for organic produce. Many had previously resorted to growing their own organic vegetables due to a lack of decent supplies in the local shops, said Mrs van der Meer.

“We live in a multi-cultural society and if we”re going to get our message across we need to address this. Culture is very important and it can offer great opportunities. Black and Asian women are our new customers.”

 fwnews@rbi.co.uk