Food scarcity and arid land


In my last blog post I wrote about the importance of agriculture to our economy. Then I started hearing stories that farm sales were down, especially dairy. Apparently of over 4,000 farms on the market, only around 200 sold last month.

Good news for some of the farmers who want out, because there are foreign investors who want to buy them. One company wants to spend $1.5 Billion dollars buying NZ farms. You would have to wonder if we can’t make a good living out of farming how can other countries do it? If we do sell them, where will the earnings from those farms go? Not into our pockets I would suggest.

China has a problem. They have a large dry land mass and not enough water to grow the crops they need and a huge and growing population. What are they doing about it? They and other countries such as Middle East are buying good arable land wherever they can get it for a good price. For example China is buying farming land in Mozambique, Angola, Malawi, Nigeria and even Zimbabwe. It’s not all bad, they are teaching local farmers better techniques in animal husbandry, improving crop yields etc.

What are the motives of China and Arabic countries in buying this land? They need the food. In Ethiopia, one of the worlds poorest countries, not only are they selling land to foreign countries, they are giving them tax holidays for a number of years, but what is of greater concern is the expectation that most, if not all of the crops will be going back to countries such as China, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

I ask myself therefore, again, why can’t we produce high yield crops on our fertile soils and sell it to the countries that need it. Once those countries have bought our land, we won’t be getting it back and I wouldn’t expect us to gain much in GDP from the crops they grow.

As I said in my last blog, the ‘good old days’ were when we were largely an agrarian economy, we had plenty and we also had plenty to export. Now we have fantastic biotechnology and the ability to increase yields, quality and in many cases without using GM technologies.

I would hate to look into our future and see a country that can’t feed itself, that grows crops on farms owned by other countries, go straight offshore to feed them with minimal economic benefit to us. I would welcome someone to explain the logic of this.

We have expertise, maybe we should be assisting some of those countries who are unable to maximise the return on their land, help them thrive and clip the ticket. That would be a win win. While we do that, we also continue to research and improve product, the grasses and other food sources for animal feed etc. We do have some successes such as Fonterra, Livestock Improvements and many other thriving areas of research and results in biotechnology. We should stick with what we are good at and rather than give our farms to the Chinese, Arabs and others who want them, let the Government buy them. They could be run by unemployed people, who would get training on the job and perhaps even interest free loans to purchase some of those plots and use the skills they have obtained to build themselves a healthy asset and income, while increaseing our balance of payments. Is that silly? What’s wrong with my thinking?

In February this year there were around 168,000 people unemployed. Lets put them to work on those farms, teach them a trade, help them make something of themselves and help them earn the money to buy there way in with low interest loans and subsidies. What could we produce with 168,000 people working instead of paying them to do nothing. The single person benefit is around $160. That works out to a wasted loss of around $26,880,000 per annum. I say lets buy those farms and keep them in New Zealand hands.

This Video from TVNZ gives an example of what is happening.

7 Deadly Sins, but wait there’s more! 7 new Sins!


The NZ Herald had an interesting front page story this morning. The Headling went 14 Deadly Sins – we haven’t a prayer. The interesting thing was that when I went to link it for you, I couldn’t find it on their digital section. I thought they were hiding and decided it shouldn’t be on their net page in case they had too many complaints or perhaps a lightning bolt or some other form of devine pestilence. The interesting thing was that they did have a story about catholic priests who steal other people’s sermons off the Internet.

Anyway, did you know that The 7 Deadly Sins as we know them were drawn up by Pope Gregory the Great in the 6th century. I guess that gives Monsignor Gianfranco Girotti who is a close friend of Pope Benedict XVI the right to come up with 7 more Deadly Sins. I wonder if they will be going into the next bible version. His 7 additional Deadly Sins are:

  • Genetic modification
  • Carrying out experiments on humans
  • Polluting the environment
  • Causing social injustice
  • Causing poverty
  • Becoming obscenely wealthy
  • Taking Drugs

Now I don’t want to be irreverent here, but you have to wonder about this. I don’t know if he made the list exactly like this, or whether it has been abbreviated by the media, but here are some thoughts:

GM. We have been doing this for years. At what point is it a bad thing. For example we have been growing wilt resistant trees for many years and a very large percentage of our crops have minor genetic modifications. I suspect that the survival of some parts of the world will depend on GM.

Experiments on humans. If you are talking Hitler style, then I am in total agreement, but if you are talking about lifesaving drugs, body implants and even my contact lenses after they have tried everything else, hey its improved my standard of living.

Polluting the environment. Well yes, I don’t have a problem with that, but where do you draw the line. Will you suffer “eternal death” because you tossed a cigarette butt out of your window? Don’t get me wrong I hate it when people throw things out of their car windows and I’m forever picking up other people’s McDonalds wrappers from my front lawn, but who decides where you draw the line?

Causing social injustice. Again no problem in principle, but does the Vatican draw the line for us?

Causing poverty. Who causes poverty? Are the droughts in Africa man made? Do I cause poverty if I unknowingly buy cheap manufactured product where the workers are underpaid and poorly treated? If I don’t donate to charities for the poor, am I causing their environment?

Becoming obscenely wealthy. I’ll bet Bill Gates is pleased that he is no longer the wealthiest man on the planet! At what line are the wealthy obscenely wealthy. Now hang on, what about the Vatican, what could they do to help the situation with their riches?

Taking Drugs. I’m not even going to get into that one. Let’s start with the holy wine, isn’t alcohol a mind altering substance that the Vatican not only condones but in certain situations requires. Don’t they have ‘holy vineyards’?

So the final point? After all this sinning, there is always absolution. All you need to do is go to confession, confess your sins and beg forgiveness before you die and you will be able to happily go on your way.

Amen.

While this blog is starting to get a good following, I would love to get more readers and encouraging me to keep writing. If you feel that my blog is interesting I would be very grateful if you would vote for me in the category of best blog at the NetGuide Web Awards. Note that the form starts each site with www whereas my blog doesn’t and is of course https://luigicappel.wordpress.com.

Thanks so much for your support:)