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Last Updated:[10-06-2009 05:05:05 EDT] Zoom in Zoom out Back to Tradenews

Kenyan Women Farmers Find Solace in the Burgeoning UK Organic Market

tradenews According to a recent report by the International Trade Centre (ITC), the export development agency of the WTO and the UN has stated the organic trade to the UK is helping a number of Kenyan farmers and workers, largely women to earn a decent livelihood to raise their children. Though the vegetables and flowers airfreighted from Kenya enjoyed a small share in the $70mn worth UK organic market, it has played a significant role in reshaping many lives of this East African nation.

The ITC found children or siblings of the people involved in the organic farming activities were better fed, better clothed and performed better at school than others. The workers of this sector were better informed about the ill-effects of dangerous diseases such as, HIV/AIDS. They also enjoyed better human resources development practices including employee safety, free transport and so on.

Lately, the growing concern over climate change has tagged ‘Food miles’ to airfreighted products threatening livelihoods of many people in Kenya and other African countries involved in this trade. Various organic certifiers from Europe have even withdrawn organic certification to airfreighted products by branding them as products of high carbon footprint.

However, due to the concerted effort by the ITC and the DFID, the UK government department which works for human development and poverty alleviation, the Soil Association certifier has assured that they would continue to certify airfreighted organic products from Africa. ITC strongly argued that despite the UK beef production generated many times more greenhouse gases than other forms of animal protein production it passed similar certification test. Interestingly findings of a research showed a 10km car trip to a supermarket generated more carbon emissions than airfreighting a kilogram of beans from Kenya.

The leading airfreight export countries are Kenya, Egypt, Morocco, Zambia and the US. There are also other African nations involved in this trade including South Africa, Cameroon, Gambia and Ghana. ITC feels a sustained growth in the organic market without any hiccups like that of the certification issue could help many farmers and workers in Africa to lead a quality life.

By Jose Roy

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