Friday, 22 May 2009

Stuffed or starved? A European obsession with chicken breasts wrecks the Cameroon market in locally produced food

All afternoon "stuffed or starved" was the focus of the Future Centre at the Kirchentag. I was interpreting for Cameroon rural activist and anti-corruption campaigner Bernard Njonga.
He explained how because of a perceived need to supply the growing urban popoulation with cheap food, the Cameroon government started importing frozen chicken pieces from the European Union. These chicken pieces are created as a by-product of chicken breast production. The frozen chicken was so cheap that it undercut the locally produced chicken, driving small sustainable farmers out of business.oon session
Hans Herren began the afternoon by giving a brilliant summary of the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development. He did that in just 11 minutes and given that even teh executive summary is 29 pages long that's quite something.
What was interesting in the various rounds of discussions that followed his presentation was how reluctant the representatives of the German farmers were to leave the present model of cheaper production at any price for the planet. Herren stated that in order to prevent people starving the enormous research that IAASTD had undertaken showed clearly that supporting women, small scale farmers, paying them to farm sustainably would bring food closer to those who really need it, take people out of starvation and also help manage the planets resources. He also showed how cheap food policies and the obsession with eating red meat leads to a muon footprint.
A fascinating afternoon. Not just food for thought but food for transformation.