Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Food Security

Scoop reports 

New Zealand mishears the world on food

In a major admission to Massey University’s Executive MBA students by the World Bank in New York, New Zealand’s policy makers’ misunderstanding of ‘Food Safety,’ may be adding thousands of dollars to the individual cost of agricultural production at the farm gate.
“I was stunned to learn what we know as Food Security is defined by the World Bank as Food Safety. It may sound like semantics but it carries a huge implication for our agricultural producers and exporters,” says Letitia Isa, a student of Massey University Executive MBA programme.

The World Health Organisation  is clear on food security.

as adequate water and sanitation.
Food security is a complex sustainable development issue, linked to health through malnutrition, but also to sustainable economic development, environment, and trade. There is a great deal of debate around food security with some arguing that:
  • There is enough food in the world to feed everyone adequately; the problem is distribution.
  • Future food needs can - or cannot - be met by current levels of production.
  • National food security is paramount - or no longer necessary because of global trade.
  • Globalization may - or may not - lead to the persistence of food insecurity and poverty in rural communities.
The consequences are grave as Dr Beddington the UK Chief Scientist details.

"A "perfect storm" of food shortages, scarce water and insufficient energy resources threaten to unleash public unrest, cross-border conflicts and mass migration as people flee from the worst-affected regions, the UK government's chief scientist will warn tomorrow.

"We head into a perfect storm in 2030, because all of these things are operating on the same time frame," Beddington told the Guardian.
"If we don't address this, we can expect major destabilisation, an increase in rioting and potentially significant problems with international migration, as people move out to avoid food and water shortages," he added.
"Our food reserves are at a 50-year low, but by 2030 we need to be producing 50% more food. At the same time, we will need 50% more energy, and 30% more fresh water.
"There are dramatic problems out there, particularly with water and food, but energy also, and they are all intimately connected," Beddington said. "You can't think about dealing with one without considering the others. We must deal with all of these together."

“This simple but fundamental misapprehension may see New Zealand jumping ever higher but illusionary hurdles. Instead of higher standards boosting returns, they may in fact be eroding them for almost no financial gain.
“When the World Bank says Food Safety they are not talking stainless steel, the National Animal Identification and Tracing Scheme or the Emissions Trading Scheme. What the World Bank means is how New Zealand can contribute to the feeding nine billion people by 2050.

Exactly what the World Bank are saying is likely to get lost because of the convoluted way they are saying it. The point remains that a looming crisis is upon us. This blog has developed a focus on Africa and I can assure you that the price of food is increasing in Kampala Uganda.
“That carries with it a powerful but different policy message.
“New Zealand can feed some 24 million people according to the University of Waikato’s Professor of Agribusiness, Jacqueline Rowarth. The United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation says developed countries need to increase output by 70 percent to do their bit.

I would have thought we could do a lot better than 24 million people but to do so we need to embrace new technology. Lets face it the Greens are Luddites. 
“It might sound provocative, but we need to seriously weigh the cost-benefits of adopting polices that do not generate tangible revenue at the farm gate, or increase production. While European supermarkets seem to be a de facto political and policy benchmark, are ever higher compliance costs worth it?
“It may sound counter intuitive, but perhaps quantity does have a quality all of its own. A simple metric maybe if a policy adds a dollar of cost, does it produce well over a dollar of added revenue at the farm gate?
“Moreover, are our other policy settings, particularly around Genetically Modified Organisms, retarding New Zealand’s ability to do its fair global share?

All good questions.
“Certainly, the way the World Bank defines Food Safety needs to become central to New Zealand policy formation. If not, we risk unprecedented global disorder that New Zealand could not escape,” Ms Isa concluded.

Actually we probably could escape it because we are so good at producing food and geographically isolated but we need to prevent it happening.

Hat Tip Home Paddock 

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