President Moody Awori has asked the Kenya high commission in London to aggressively lobby policy makers in the United Kingdom against imposing restrictions on airlifted horticultural produce from Kenya.
Addressing staff at the mission in London on Tuesday, the vice president expressed fear that if implemented, the move will harm the country`s horticultural industry noting that the sector is a lifeline to millions of Kenyans.
Mr Awori said horticultural exports earn the country substantial amounts of foreign exchange, and described the ‘Food Miles` concept as not only punitive but heavily flawed and selective.
Under the ‘food miles` concept, as the debate is commonly known, a campaign has been on-going in the United Kingdom and other European countries to discriminate against long haul transportation especially of air-freighted goods.
Environmentalists are lobbying leading supermarket chains and policy makers in European capitals to discourage consumption of long-haul airfreighted goods on the basis that transportation of goods over long distances such as from Africa to Europe contributes to global warming through carbon emissions by aircrafts into the atmosphere.
The campaign is gaining momentum in the United Kingdom where leading supermarkets are labelling fresh horticultural produce from Kenya with an airplane symbol to signify that the product was imported through a medium that contributes to depletion of the ozone layer and should be shunned.
This, according to Kenya`s high commissioner to the United Kingdom Mr. Joseph Muchemi who also spoke at the meeting, will affect Kenya`s perishable goods industry, which can only be exported to European destinations by air since they have a short shelf life.
Mr Muchemi recently launched a counter campaign dubbed ‘Grown under the Sun` at Britain`s largest agricultural trade fair in Coventry last month to inform British consumers about the development benefits associated with sourcing fresh produce from Kenya.
`The ‘Grown under the Sun` logo will appear in UK supermarkets to remind consumers that purchasing fresh Kenyan fruits, vegetables and flowers helps to sustain thousands of Kenyans who depend on trade with Britain,` said Mr Muchemi.
Mr Awori challenged the high commission staff to urgently bring the matter to the attention of the highest level of decision making in the UK saying that the ‘Food Miles` concept was mischievous and unfair.
`Developed countries have a duty to formulate policies that will uplift poor countries so that they are no longer a liability to them,` he stressed.