From Côte d’Ivoire

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On the same construction site as pictured here, the landscape gardeners are now planting trees. In my naivité I had been under the impression that tree nurseries still are local companies, taking into account the low work intensity and the (erroneously assumed) high transportation costs. Obviously I was wrong…


  1. Very interesting. There are several tree/ornamental-plant nursery businesses here in my home town in southern New England, and they now represent a last remnant of agricultural business in the region. Dairy farming, the former main agricultural endeavor, at the scale possible here, gets less economically competitive every day with the agribusiness model of factory dairy farming that can be practiced in the mid-west. I’m sure many of the plants, large and small, that are sold here are brought from great distances, but at least some are local.

    How far is Côte d’Ivoire from Bavaria? I suspect internal transportation here in the US may often be over longer distances. After all, California is 3,000 miles away. For many months of the year, fresh vegetables (not an insignificant concern to a vegetarian) can only be obtained here from grocery stores that source them from California, Mexico, Chile, Brazil…etc.

    1. Carl, the transition in agriculture that you describe, similarly happens here. The state of Bavaria has very small farm sizes in the hill and mountain region, and their number has and will further halve in 15-10 years periods. Instead we will have the fine genetically modified food (it’s officially not allowed, but comes in in form of pollution) for lower prices – and that is what the bigger part of the population is interested in.

      Côte d’Ivoire is roughly as far away from Bavaria as California is from New England. But as trees are not seasonal fruits in the strict sense (and nurseries possible and common here), I would have thought that high transport costs would rule out such imports – trees are heavy and big and still delicate. Of course we do see imports of cut flowers from overseas, but there the climate and growing season are decisive for business, or so I thought.

      It probably boils down to the fact that energy is too cheap. But that’s what we fight wars for, unfortunately.

  2. Somehow I can’t believe it. It would be ridiculous to import trees to Germany. So in the attempt to make my little world a better place I assume it’s the jute bags that somehow come from Côte d’Ivoire (filled with coffee beans or the like) and they are just re-used by the nursery.

    1. Martina, I’d just wish you were right. You know, hope dies last…
      Taking into account the masses of cut flowers, pot flowers etc. we import from Africa and South America, some even by plane, I unfortunately have no doubt that we are also importing trees… But I was not able to verify this, my web searches for relevant statistical data gave no usable results.

  3. One of the bags has an imprint “cocoa” – you are not telling me they plant cocoa trees in Munich? I am not sure they would survive in this climate.

    Yes, hope dies last …

    1. Cocoa indeed was the most important cash crop of Ivory Coast, so probably you’re right! Re. Cocoa in Munich: We have a brown city councillor (“Bürgerinitiative Ausländerstopp”, brown is the color of the nazi and their followups), and these seedlings at least survive in small numbers here… it’s not cold enough.

  4. I guess that’s exactly why nowadays it is so hard not to get overwhelmed by one’s own cynism and not to always assume the worst.

    But… have a nice Sunday nevertheless … in Rhineland-Palatinate we have a long weekend, I guess in Bavaria, too? !

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