Archive for March 2013

EU Supermarkets Blamed for Kenya Food Waste   Leave a comment

http://www.ricfrancis.net

EU Supermarkets and Kenya Food Waste

The landscape of a farm, just outside the Kenyan capital of Nairobi, is occupied by half a dozen women harvesting French beans for European Union (EU) supermarkets. After collection the women will pre-grade the beans, discarding 10 to 20-percent because of standards set by EU supermarkets. Thereafter a pack-house (where the beans are cut and packaged for shipment), for one of the top exporting horticultural companies in Kenya, will examine and discard another 15 to 35-percent. This practice has contributed to claims that European Union supermarkets are to blame for food waste in Kenya.

EU Supermarkets and Kenya Food Waste

According to an executive with a Kenyan horticultural company, who insisted neither he nor his pack-house be identified because of possible repercussions from EU companies, “we waste on average between 15 to 35-percent of our crops because of the high specifications set for appearance (size, shape and color) by EU supermarkets.” He went on to explain, “if you took all the vegetable and fruit exporters in Kenya and collected all the produce we’re forced to discard because of EU standards, we could feed all of Kenya’s poor and hungry. One hundred percent of our French bean crop is produced for their market. It’s not a Kenyan food. We’re trying to get our people to eat it but the local market will only take small quantities. If the EU would lower its specifications the food we grow would be of greater value, and we could then invest more into feeding Kenyans.” Unfortunately donating the rejected produce isn’t practical for farmers because of transportation and storage costs; it’s used as feed for pigs and cows.

EU Supermarkets and Kenya Food Waste

According to the Kenyan government, 30-percent of Kenyan children are undernourished and 10 million people suffer from food shortages and poor nutrition. Wasted food also represents a major loss of water, energy, fertilizers and land.

EU Supermarkets and Kenya Food Waste

At the pack-house, which received delivery from the farm described at the beginning, approximately a third of each French bean is cut off before being packed in small packets; the beans have a slight curve and packets for EU supermarkets are short and straight.

EU Supermarkets and Kenya Food Waste

In February the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) held a three-course meal, in Nairobi, to highlight a campaign to cut massive levels of global food waste. Hundreds of ministers, diplomats and other high-level officials dined on food grown by Kenyan farmers but rejected by United Kingdom supermarkets due to cosmetic imperfections. It was done in support of the global Think.Eat.Save.Reduce Your Foodprint – an initiative launched in January by UNEP, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and partners such as Feeding the 5,000.

EU Supermarkets and Kenya Food Waste

Food waste is a global issue. A UN study indicates that globally one-third of all food produced, 1.3 billion tonnes, is wasted or lost annually, while 925 million people around the world are threatened by starvation.

“Post harvest is the problem in the world, not production,” said the Kenyan executive who refused to be identified. “We can be so much more efficient with feeding people with what we already produce.”

EU Supermarkets and Kenya Food Waste
Additional work by Ric Francis may be viewed on his website http://www.ricfrancis.net.
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Kenya Presidential Election   Leave a comment

http://www.ricfrancis.net

Kenya National Elections 2013

After a week of electoral uncertainty, due to technical glitches with Kenya’s electronic voting system, Uhuru Kenyatta is declared the presidential winner. However his main rival, Raila Odinga, vowed to challenge the “tainted election” in the Supreme Court.

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President-elect Kenyatta is set to be tried at the International Criminal Court (ICC) over violence that followed the 2007 polls. He, and his running mate, William Ruto, are accused of fueling the communal violence that saw more than 1,000 people killed and hundreds of thousands forced from their homes. One of the areas where such violence occurred was the Kibera Slums, which was particularly tense as the country awaited a decision on who would be the 2013 presidential victor.

Kenya National Elections 2013

Kenya National Elections 2013

All week groups of mostly men gathered on the streets to talk politics and watch the ballot count on storefront televisions. Fear of possible violence caused some families to pack up their belongings and head “up country” (a term used to describe one’s ancestral homeland). Such fears proved to be unfounded as the vote remained peaceful. How Mr. Odinga now handles his supporters will determine whether his dispute stays in the courts or spills out onto the streets.

Kenya National Elections 2013

Disputes in Kenya tend to play along tribal lines. Mr. Odinga is a Luo and president-elect Kenyatta is a Kikuyu (Kenya’s largest ethnic group). In 2007 Kenya president Mwai Kibaki, a Kikuyu, defeated presidential candidate Odinga in a highly disputed election. Echos of such divisiveness came up on Friday when members of “Women for Peace” attempted to take their message to the streets of the Kibera Slums. They were forced to abandon the march after being warned they were approaching a block where they would be attacked by men who viewed them as partisan (representing the wrong tribe and presidential candidate). What began as a cheerful march with them singing songs of peace ended in dejection as they abandoned the march entirely. Their group is a coalition of women from different Nairobi slums: Kibera, Mathare, Huruma, Mkuru, Dandora and Korogocho.

Kenya National Elections 2013

Kenya National Elections 2013

While the mantra across Kenya is “amani” (peace), some campaigners are warning against a “peace coma” – a failure to address past injustices which would prevent Kenya from moving on. People say they will wait for the legal process to run its course. Some point to the new constitution and recent judicial reforms as a reason for the relative calm compared with five years ago, when Kibera was a flashpoint. But there are worries about the future. Many hope Mr. Kenyatta will uphold the new constitution and co-operate with the ICC, as he fights charges of crimes against humanity. Mr. Odinga hopes to save Kenya from the challenges of a Kenyatta presidency.

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Kenya National Elections 2013

Additional work by Ric Francis may be viewed on his website http://www.ricfrancis.net.

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