A COLAC district couple has helped sheep farmers in the Falkland Islands earn more money for their wool.
Deans Marsh’s Ian Campbell, a farm advisor, and Susan Swaney, a veterinarian, lived in the Falklands for three years while they worked for the islands’ department of agriculture.
The Falklands are a tiny British territory in the South Atlantic, close to Argentina.
Mr Campbell helped set up an Australian Certified Organic system for the islands’ sheep farmers, who farm organically because fertiliser is too expensive.
“Organics is their default way of farming, what we were doing was getting recognition for that,” he said.
“They’ve been trying before that but it really started going in 2008.
“They’re the most organic country in the world now – about 30 per cent of their land is organic.”
Mr Campbell said the system had started to benefit farmers.
“It’s difficult to demonstrate those sorts of things, but we’ve got a solid system in place now and hopefully the benefits will start to come,” he said.
“A lot of countries are committed to making organic woollen garments, so that just gives them a little bit of a competitive edge over countries.”
Mr Campbell and Ms Swaney have returned to Deans Marsh, where they farm sheep and cattle, and they will talk about their Falklands experience at Upper Barwon Landcare Network’s annual meeting on April 20.
This month marks 30 years since the start of the Falklands War, when Argentina tried to invade the British territory – more than 900 soldiers died in the two-month conflict.
Ms Swaney said the Falklands had a “stark” landscape but beautiful wildlife, including elephant seals, penguins and albatross.
“There’s no trees, it’s quite barren and very rocky in parts,” she said.
“One of the first things you see when you drive from the military base airport to Stanley, you go past quite a lot of landmine sites.
“There’s a lot of bits of broken or crashed airplanes and helicopters, particularly the Argentine ones, also it’s not uncommon to come across a boot from someone who might’ve been in the war, and shells and old foxholes.”
“They quite apparently struggle with a number of aspects of life – the memories of war are very much on the forefront,” she said.
“There’s a constant reminder because the Argentines continue to make life pretty difficult, they’re stopping shipping to the Falkland Islands from South America.
“They also limit the number of flights from the Falkland Islands.”
People can register to attend the Landcare AGM, which is at Winchelsea, by Friday.