Thursday, 31 January 2008

A Nice Green Leaf: Blue Valentines

By Emma Townshend

I have been wondering lately in the supermarket about the tempting fresh Kenyan peas and broccoli, and thinking whether, just for once, I should buy some. It's the first time I've ever thought about buying air-freighted produce in a positive way - rather than just avoiding it and feeling guilty if I occasionally swerve from the path -  but I have no other gesture of solidarity with which to register my (yes I know, insignificant) sympathy with what's happening to people there.

As Reuters has
reported today Kenyan horticulturalists are really in trouble. The
biggest town in Kenya for flower and vegetable growing is Naivasha,
which sits in an idyllic position by a lake in the Rift Valley. However
the town has been hit by ethnic violence, and this morning only thirty
per cent of workers there turned up for work - the rest stayed at home
for fear of encountering trouble.

In cooperation with the Red Cross, the flower industry plans to set up
camps to allow workers to stay safely near the farms without
encountering danger on the way to and from work.
The problem for Kenya's flower industry is that it is reliant on the
European market for flowers, and with Valentine's Day and Mother's Day
both up and coming in the next six weeks, they need to get workers back
into the fields, dangerous or not. In fact, all of Kenya needs the
flower harvests to take place smoothly, as exporting flowers and other
produce is one of the economy's biggest earners. Whilst I could hardly
claim to be a great fan of Kenya's flower industry, I do end up feeling that this is one time where it would be better to buy Kenyan, than not.

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