Urgent Evoke

A crash course in changing the world.

Dear fellow Agents, for the past week or so we have been discussing different ways we can grow enough food to feed the globe sustainably and affordably.

In many developing countries smallholder export horticulture is aleady proving to be a powerful new engine for growth in rural economies. My country Kenya has been one of the quickest to develop as a supplier of air-freighted fresh vegetables from smallholder fields to consumers in Europe. More than a 1 million livelihoods have been created in farm production and a further 3 million in associated employment. Now other African countries including Tanzania, Rwanda, Ethiopia want to follow suit.

However with rising concerns over climate change, consumers, environmentalists and politicians in the developed world are debating whether it makes environmental sense to continue to import foodstuffs with high food miles. The debate on if emissions caused by the airfreight of our fresh produce from Africa v/s this growth in rural economies is HOT.

Please share - are you FOR air-freighting of fresh produce from one country to or another or AGAINST?

Views: 126

Comment by Louie Vignapiano on March 16, 2010 at 3:17pm
I vote against air-freighting produce over long distances.
Comment by Ciaran Lyons on March 16, 2010 at 3:22pm
I am FOR air-freighting fresh produce. Food miles, on the wh***, ae an over-simplified argument - it's a useful concept to get people to think about where their food comes from, and what it takes to get it to their plates, but it's not a reliable measure of sustainability or carbon footprint.

Moreover, as you point out, it ignores the benefits to developing countries in raising the standard of living and income.

Al in all, FOR.

Thanks Shakwei, for starting this debate. I look forward to reading other people's thoughts.
Comment by Jen Shaffer on March 16, 2010 at 3:33pm
Are Kenyans feeding themselves first? Not likely. Higher profits can be made shipping fresh produce to the European market. Additionally, does the price of this air-freighted food include the TRUE cost of transport, carbon offsets, etc.? I know that food prices are higher in Europe than the US, but again true costs are likely not being paid. Personally, I think that the land being used to grow market produce should first be used to feed people locally and in-country. Then any surplus land should go towards specialized market production for in-country and foreign markets.

I know you haven't mentioned flowers Agent Mbindyo, but I know that the European flower market is supplied by Kenya and other East African countries - just like the US flower market is frequently supplied by Central and South American countries. (And yes, there are also local suppliers in Europe and the US). Flowers are beautiful, but when the land used to grow them would be better used to sustain food security and feed hungry people that lovely bunch of roses, carnations, or sunflowers starts looking very ugly.

Sometimes I wonder what Adam Smith would say if he could see how his ideas about markets have been used in this age of globalization and international corporations.
Comment by The Garden Earth Project on March 16, 2010 at 3:36pm
I am against it. Food security begins at home. If a community cannot produce enough food to feed itself, it is not sustainable. Likewise, it is not sustainable for a community to be dependent on exported goods, especially food.

Don't misinterpret. I am wh***heartedly for import/export trade to SUPPLEMENT economies.

If basic needs however, can't be supplied at home, economies collapse.
Comment by Jen Shaffer on March 16, 2010 at 3:39pm
Oops. I wasn't clear in my voting like you asked.

I am against air freighting of food long distance if it means that local food security is decreased to supply far away markets. People need to feed themselves first.
Comment by Anthony Karanja on March 16, 2010 at 3:46pm
I am"FOR air-freighting of fresh produce to other countries"the wh*** food mile thing is an exaggeration to some extent.I agree we do need to conserve our environment but not at the expense of some one else dying of poverty.Otherwise if this is the case why don't we ban the air travels at large-no more tourist,no more international conferences.........the list goes on and on.
@Jen Don't blame the market dynamics for this chaos,blame personal greed.
Comment by Rahul Dewanjee on March 16, 2010 at 3:51pm
Depending on the impact of our externalities, we choose our paradigm. Therefore we live and breathe where our consciousness supports our subjective reality. They are simply responding to their externalities and how they see their obligations embedded in their value systems necessary to support a cause that seem obviously justified from their own viewpoint.

But there is a bigger truth than our subjective truths and that is: we are part of a global ecosystem where we made our opportunities and our hardships all tied to a global framework. This is the global trade framework. Some countries like Kenya has comparative advantage for growing bananas while countries like Japan has comparative advantage in precision electronics. What you grow and what you buy are interconnected to what you forego (opportunity loss) and its seemingly interconnectedness with currency floats and comparative advantages. Market based opportunities like global trade is perhaps the only way we can integrate world economy to become sustainable....the alternative is closed loop internally circulated GDP from domestic trade or select free trade between select countries like ASEAN, SAARC, SAPTA, NAFTA etc..(similar to 'old boys network').

I have written extensively about this at my post Eating your cake and having it too. You might see why I am all way in for global trade, globalisation and in defence of globality as a phenomenon that is the only way we can create inclusivity and equitable opportunity across the world. Or else everything else will end up being irrelevant: lets evoke ourselves to think beyond the obvious.

For the motion, I stand firmly.
Comment by Ayala Sherbow on March 16, 2010 at 3:55pm
This is tricky. I think the most compelling argument against the air-freighting is that clearly their are people in Kenya and neighboring countries who are hungry and impoverished. HOWEVER -- and this is a huge however -- those people can probably not afford to buy those goods that are bring air-freighted to Europe. [Of course, they deserve food -- whether or not they can afford it -- that is not my point. I am thinking of the "sustainability" and "entreprenuership" angles. Presumably the producers doing the air-freighting are not running as a charity. So the problem becomes how can the producers who are currently air-freighting their food to Europe continue to be financially viable and still keep their goods in Kenya and Africa? I think we all agree that in theory it would be better -both from a climate and a humanitarian point of view -- that the food stay in Kenya. How do we make it financially attractive to the producers to do so?
Comment by Lynn Caldwell on March 16, 2010 at 4:00pm
A tricky one - air-freight, per se, I'm against - however, and perhaps this is controversial, but I'm not a hypocrite, and aim to be true to myself. I LOVE coffee - we don't grow it here. Fairtrade systems support economies - don't they? Chocolate - LOVING chocolate in the run up to Easter...I'm not a nestle loving woman, but I'm pretty sure coffee and chocolate are air friehgted...so, I guess my actions preclude me being FOR airmiles...whoops. As for airmiles for stuff we can grow here...I'd like to see a system where you can only export crops etc, when your own country has enough to eat...as for sunflowers etc..really? Do you stand by that? do you tell people not to buy you flowers? Do you actively discourage the buying of flowers, chocolate, bananas, mangoes, pinnapples, coffee - if not, then you are FOR airmiles.

I think if Kenyans are making themselves more food secure by investing the money into climate safe products, are given lots of information about consequences of sending on food for profit etc, then - for the moment, it will contiue.

Democratize food by taking it out of the commodies traders pockets - and problem solved.

this just makes me a little...UUURRRGGGHHHH - How can we tell Kenyans not to make themselves rich through these methods, when we export EVERYTHING, globalise all our industries, get funded for spreading our wealth making businesses...using far more airmiles, due to our industrialized status...Get Kenyans to make the stuff we do instead...oh? No? Nooooo, we don't want to do that do we? Why? Because everyone then would care about the micro problems of no UK car industry...hmmm, boot and other foot come to mind! LOL

Democratize food - africa would be well fed, agricuture policy would do a forward-roll, land on it's feet with a flourish. Commodity traders would lose out, as westerners would probably lose some money in their houses - so what? We can SURVIVE, and moreover - its FAIR, right now, if we are going to continue making money outof food in the trading arenas

Democratise food, and this won't be an issue.

Not enabling Kenyans the right to use airmiles like we, in developed countries do, when 'they' need the money more is really shocking...it's just my personal opinion - critisise me all you want, I have thick skin.

I know it's wrong, airmiles=badness - boooo, BUT all the time WE in the developed countries do it, get funding for it, and profit from it - then....well, why is it so terrible when Kenyans do it?

I'm writing this while eying up my Fairtrade Mango....Yum.
Comment by UWIHANGANYE Israël on March 16, 2010 at 4:05pm
no no ,I am against that blog of air-freighting of fresh produce because u can not feed others while yours are still suffering.
So what i am likely to say about Rwanda ,i know it is adopted but first the main objectif is that Rwandans have to feed themselves and not focus on foreign Aid. the fight against foreign Aid is due to proverb which states that < Do not feed me fishes but teach me how to fish them>. So I would like to mention that Rwandan government have vision that all people may satisfy first their basic needs and the rest for the market either internal or external.


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