Knowledge for better food systems

development impact of export horticulture from low income countries

Tara Garnett's picture

Does anyone know of any recent work that explores the developmental and poverty alleviation impacts of export horticulture (eg. things like green beans) for communities in low income countries in relation to their environmental impacts? Back in the mid 2000s when the food miles issue dominated the discourse on food, GHGs and sustainability,. there was a lot of discussion about the potentially negative impacts of predicating development on production and distribution systems that had inherently high impacts because produce needed to be freighted by air.  This led to studies such as these and counter commentaries such from development NGOs such as this:

I'm not aware of any more up to date academic work that tries to look at the development and environmental aspects of export horticulture in a coupled way and/or identifies any technical developments in transporting perishable foods by sea . If anyone knows anything that might help, please do point me in the right direction.  Many thanks, Tara.

Susanne Freidberg's picture

Hi Tara,

My impression is that the "fair miles" argument effectively won, perhaps partly because of the backlash against Tesco's airplane label, but also because of the growing number of studies showing the potential development benefits of export horticulture (a couple of citations below, admittedly not brand new).

I haven't heard about new alternatives to airfreight for transporting perishables, but if I do I will let you know!  Susanne

Maertens, M, B Minten, and J Swinnen. 2012. Modern food supply chains and development: Evidence from horticulture export sectors in sub-saharan Africa. Development Policy Review 30 (4): 473-497

Wilshaw, Rachel. 2013. Exploring the Links Between International Business and Poverty Reduction: Bouquets and beans from Kenya: Summary (Oxfam).

Susanne Freidberg

Miguel Astudillo's picture

Hello Tara

you may want to have a look to the report of Oxfam on flowers and beans from Kenya, although the environmental perspective is limited.

There are specific articles on GHG and water footprint of cut-flower sector from Adrian Williams and M.M. Mekonnen (e.g., )

you also have the vision of the World Bank, which may see things differently:

best, Miguel