Nakuru County is part of the region that was previously referred to as the “white highlands” because it was home to many European large-scale farmers during the colonial period. There are still large-scale farms in the area, some of which are owned by Kenyans and others by ex-patriots.
We visited a tea plantation with an on-site factory. Some of our Kenyan teachers said they had never been to the tea estate and talked of arranging school trips. The estate looked very much like those of colonial times, with very basic housing for workers and much of the work done by hand. Some tea was being packaged for export. We passed a large farm where the wheat harvest was being combined. It could have been mistaken for a cereal farm in Scotland, except that there were more workers involved – agriculture is a major employer in Kenya. Large intensive floriculture enterprises, producing cut flowers in glasshouses and polytunnels for export on some of the richest farmland, make Kenya the largest supplier of cut flowers to the European Union. It accounts for about 40 per cent of all horticultural exports.
These examples highlight the tension between agribusiness and small-scale family farms – a similar challenge to that which we face in Scotland, where small-scale producers such as crofters struggle to be competitive. The huge imbalances, which result in so many people being malnourished because of a lack of availability of nutritious food through local shortages in the developing world and reliance on cheap processed food in industrialised countries, are a result of a dysfunctional global food system, rather than an overall shortage of food in the world – we have the technology and knowledge to feed the world – we need the collective political will to make this happen.
“The world needs a paradigm shift in agricultural development: from a ‘green revolution’ to an ‘ecological intensification’ approach. This implies a rapid and significant shift from conventional, monoculture-based and high-external-input- dependent industrial production towards mosaics of sustainable, regenerative production systems that also considerably improve the productivity of small-scale farmers.”
Family Farmers: Feeding the world, caring for the earth, FAO 2014
“For decades, the world has grown enough food to nourish everyone adequately.”
Enough: Why the Poorest Starve in an Age of Plenty R.Thurow and S.Kilman (2009)
“Even our own model of economic development is recognised by the World Bank as being massively counterproductive”
Colm Regan keynote speech, Global Citizenship Matters conference, 2016