African farmers fear impact of U.K. supermarkets buying local

Last month, British supermarket giant Tesco announced a few changes it’s making with the climate in mind, including limiting flown-in food. Which is all well and good, unless you’re a farmer in Africa wondering what the hell is going on. Some fear that moves in the industrial world meant to reduce the carbon footprint — and eco-guilt — of rich shoppers will endanger the livelihood of farmers in developing countries. In Kenya, for instance, 65 percent of exports to the European Union are fresh fruits, veggies, and flowers, and some farmers have replaced their staple crops with European-fancied novelties like baby corn. While Tesco says it will protect African producers, farmers and their advocates are not convinced and say they haven’t had talks with the chain. “This announcement from Tesco is devastating,” says Stephen Mbithi Mwikya, who heads a Kenyan export association. He fears the green-minded move and others like it, considered progressive in far-off lands, could cripple Kenya’s economy.