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Thursday, 06 May 2010

Fair Trade Farmers’ Exports Hit by Volcanic Ash

African farmers are assessing the financial impact of the Icelandic volcanic ash clouds that led to a lockdown of Europe’s airspace, forcing fair trade flower growers from Africa to throw away 20 million roses that were meant for the European market. On April 15 massive ash clouds spewed out by the erupting Eyjafjoell volcano situated under a glacier in southern Iceland reached mainland Europe. Volcanic ash reduces visibility while the glass particles it contains are detrimental to airplanes’ jet engines, leading one European country after another to close its airports. "Kenyan fair trade rose growers alone lost approximately one million flowers a day," according to Benjamin Gatland, regional coordinator of the Southern African Fairtrade Network (SAFN). SAFN is a network of fair trade certified farms in southern Africa which assists producers in obtaining with market information and information with regards to fair trade standards. The fair trade movement aims to enhance trading conditions for small-scale businesses and to improve labour conditions through ethical and sustainable trade. "Although the damage of the events has to be assessed, it is clear that the financial implications for Kenya are considerable. Some fair trade farms have lost entire harvests of flowers," Gatland told IPS at a fair trade network meeting. Overall, the Kenyan horticulture industry reportedly lost about 15 million dollars. Fruit and vegetable farmers in Kenya were hit too. "Luckily most of the produce could be sold locally. With flowers it is a different story. They have to be transported when they are in bloom, otherwise they are worthless to the buyers," Gatland said.

Source: Inter Press News Service Agency