Friday, December 14, 2007

Food miles

"As the food miles debate rages in the UK, Kenya’s traditional international market for flower and horticultural products, fresh produce growers are searching for alternative destinations in the world market.

Convinced that ‘food miles’ constitute a non - tariff barrier to the market they have dominated for many years, horticultural producers say more attention should now be focused on the emerging Middle East and the Far East markets. That thrust was sown when James Finlay took over the control of Homegrown, another horticultural heavyweight, last July."

There it goes, I've been waiting for this to happen, what do we do now? The big paradox is unfolding: reduce food miles and support local food systems in the global north, and you get producers in the Developing world who cannot export. Make no mistake however, these are not small African farmers, they are capital intensive industries that have good financial connections to international finance, and who often exploit landless farm workers.

Of course one can argue that Kenya should not produce cut flowers for Britain, but food for its own people, and this is a correct evaluation, but only to some extent, otherwise what would countries that cannot produce enough to feed its own people do? I'm thinking of the UAE and Qatar for example. Also, we need to reduce consumption but there are limits to that too. I do not believe a return to subsistence farming is possible or desirable. Trade is necessary, provided it is fair. But trade implies transport and this means food miles...

1 comment:

Helena Cobban said...

Rami, I love your blog-- what you cover and how you think about it. I'm coming to Beirut in early January and would love to be in touch. Can you email me to tell me how? ~ Helena Cobban