Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Moving the goalposts

It was blogging for the environment day yesterday, so only a day late...

African farmers have been encouraged to produce organic crops, both for the price premium they command and because, as the Soil Association says "Organic farming is better for wildlife, causes lower pollution from sprays, produces less carbon dioxide and less dangerous wastes. This has been proven in a number of studies."

Organic production is still gaining popularity, an example being Kenyan coffee producers. The farmers use farm manure instead of fertilisers and natural pest control. The process of becoming organic is slow but ultimately fully organic coffee earns farmers up to $20 premium above the normal rate for every 50 kilo bag.

It is expensive to convert for two reasons:
  • During the first four years there is considerable drop in production and almost the whole crop can be lost.
  • Farmers have to pay $4500 to be audited for certification.

Having made this sort of commitment, it is no surprise then to read that farmers in Uganda, Ghana and Kenya are worried at the Soil Association's consultation on the question of whether they should remove the organic certification from any product which is air freighted. Reading the summary, I think most people would seem to think that it is unreasonable to ban air freight outright.

It seems especially unreasonable when Africa as a holiday destination is becoming increasingly popular. How galling to see tourists flying in when you are not allowed export your goods by the same means.


  1. I thought a jet turbine engine burned relatively clean?

  2. That's the reason they'll pull the certification? Because of the jet fuel pollution? How else can the farmers be reasonably expected to export their goods? Especially if they're growing perishables.

  3. Hathor, yes, I thought so too, and I'd be interested to know how they compare with sea transport. People seem to have fixated on air transport which is far from causing the most pollution.

    Janeway, yes, so it seems. I feel there is enough oppostition though to oppose this, at least I do hope so. I haven't read all the consultation properly yet.


Forethoughts, afterthoughts, any thoughts. Tell me.


Blog Widget by LinkWithin