Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
Let's see. The implication of rural aviation in Africa is that subsistence farmers (they could be nothing else because, hey, no transportation infrastructure) should start growing something of high enough value to warrant air transport. That would be exotic mangos or flowers, most likely. These valuable yet inedible items would be loaded onto airplanes coming and going between a handy international cargo airport built in the middle of nowhere and I suppose somewhere in Europe. The planes would return loaded with what, exactly? What kind of food will these farmers be able to buy with their earnings so that they can feed their families? Anything worth putting on a plane from Europe to their fine new airport would be  no damn good to eat, and they couldn't afford it anyway. But makes economic sense for the flower merchants. They could undercut those greedy producers in Nairobi. Until, that is, the locals all starved.
by PIGL (stevec@boreal.gmail@com) on Mon Apr 14th, 2008 at 12:46:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, the local producers produce food for subsistence, and flowers as cash crops, and the money from the flowers goes into mobile phones, which goes somewhere else ... China, Europe, the national capital, for the farmer it doesn't really matter who the yellow bellied surplus suckers are or what part of the globe they live in.

Oh, yeah, and the farmers are charged for the cost of shipping in the mobile phones and diesel generators to recharge the mobile phones, at the same rate that the flowers get charged, even though it is totally back traffic and in a competitive system would cost maybe 1/10 as much as the main traffic freight on the flowers.

Like I said, Pascal Zachary is stronger on reporting than on analysis:

Floral exports from Ethiopia are growing so rapidly that flowers theaten to surpass coffee as the country's leading export earner. In Kenya, tens of thousands of small farmers who live within an hour of the Nairobi airport grow French beans and other vegetables, which are packaged, bar-coded, and air-shipped to Europe's grocers. Exports of vegetables, fruits and flowers, largely from eastern and southern Africa, now exceed $2 billion a year, up from virtually zero a quarter-century ago.

All useful reporting ... when it comes time to see that there are serious risks involved if the agriculture is primarily for export, well, noticing that seems to be an exercise left for the reader.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Apr 14th, 2008 at 01:05:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Add in the ecological and resource-sharing problems when coffee plantations have been grubbed up to free land for flowers, green beans, lettuces, all requiring irrigation in countries that are short of water.

Unfortunately, it can happen easily when farmers have already been for years (even generations) in a colonial cash-crop system (coffee). Tell them they can make more per acre with another crop, and they'll go there all the more readily that they're accustomed to working for export only.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Apr 14th, 2008 at 03:46:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]


Occasional Series