This site is archived.
For Alyn's work as MP for Stirling visit

Land for the local market, not our luxuries, says Alyn

Alyn Smith SNP MEP, has written to the European Commission to highlight the urgent need for diversification in developing countries.

In the wake of the recent decision to lift the cap on sugar beet imports, Fair Trade organisations have expressed concern that poor sugar cane farmers in the world’s most vulnerable developing areas will be priced out of the European sugar market. 

Alyn, Scotland’s voice on the European Parliament’s Agriculture Committee, said: 

“I have served on the Agriculture Committee since 2007 and have considerable reservations about the impact sugar market reform will have. 

“My preference would be to see all farmers in the developing world producing actual food for their local communities. I accept that these exports do generate some currency for the countries concerned but I am not convinced that it’s making money for local farmers or having an entirely positive effect on local food production. 

“Land in Malawi is being cultivated for tobacco, swathes of prime farmland in Kenya are being used to produce roses for Valentine’s Day, and so on. 

“That’s why I’ve written to Development Commissioner Neven Mimica to ask what efforts the EU will put towards encouraging diversification.

“Given the EU’s considerable public health problem with excess sugar consumption, I see no logic in subsidising production of it.”

In the letter to Neven Mimica, Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Alyn states:

“It is absolutely vital that we direct greater EU support for diversification to ensure that farmers in the developing world can focus on providing healthy food for their own populations instead of producing luxury goods for us. This is a waste of prime agricultural land and keeps local farms in a state of effective serfdom.”

Alyn's letter is available here or at