No more farmers?

There is every chance we will run out of farmers before we know whether we can feed the people of the world.

It’s a frightening proposition but just look at the evidence.

In 1968, Paul Ehrlich in his book ‘Population Bomb’ made the prediction the world faced massive starvation due to overpopulation. He wrote:

The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now. At this late date nothing can prevent a substantial increase in the world death rate.

Then along came Dr Norman Borlaug, ‘the father of the Green Revolution’, and his team of plant breeders and the world was saved from starvation. In 1970, Borlaug became a Nobel Laureate.

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The ‘Green Revolution saved India from certain disaster.

Between 1950 and 2004 world wheat yields rose from an average of 750kg/ha to 2750kg/ha (FAO), due to the worldwide adoption of high yielding, high input short straw wheat varieties, developed by Borlaug and his teams. Similar improvements were achieved in the yields of maize and rice.

This revolution in plant breeding, combined with new chemicals to control pests and diseases averted the global starvation tragedy predicted by Ehrlich.

In the last forty years the population of the world has doubled and, by and large they have all been fed.

The millions, who have died of starvation over that period, didn’t die because there wasn’t any food for them; they died because we spent our money fighting wars rather than getting food to those who needed it. Continue reading “No more farmers?”

Farm Debt Wrecking Australia

Senate inquiry is a chance to reconstruct farm industries.

Farmers struggling with poor prices, difficult weather conditions, and mounting debt, have an opportunity to propose solutions, in submissions to a Senate inquiry that is being held in coming weeks.

The Senate is inquiring into a Bill that was introduced late last year by Senators Nick Xenophon and John Madigan, to establish an “Australian Reconstruction and Development Board” (ARDB) under the Reserve Bank.

Continue reading “Farm Debt Wrecking Australia”

The Horn of a Dilemma

Over the last week or so, leading up the Christmas 2013, I have watched the television and been filled with horror at the images of one child every three seconds dying of starvation on the Horn of Africa, part of the so-called Developing World. Yet, at one and the same time, obesity is killing people in the Developed World. Many people in the United States of America and no doubt in Australia, consume more than twice as many kilojoules every day, than they require for a healthy life.

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In the lifetime of my grandchildren the population of the world will increase from six billion to nine billion. Most of that increase will be in the Developing World.

In our world, the Developed World, there is no shortage of food. In fact, we are so wealthy; we can choose what food we eat — the variety is endless and obesity is a major health problem, especially in children.

We can not only choose what variety of food we eat, we can choose what kind of food we eat — so vegetarians and vegans can purchase a balanced diet free of those items they have chosen not to eat, and meat eaters, carnivores as my daughter calls us, find our choices are almost endless.

As we wander the aisles of the supermarket taking our time making our choices, every three seconds one child dies of starvation on the Horn of Africa. Continue reading “The Horn of a Dilemma”

‘We’ll all be Rooned,’ said Hanrahan.

Australia is part of the Developed World and Australian agriculture has yet to answer the question as to whether it is capable of increasing food production to meet the projected global demands of the future. Are we capable of increasing food production by at least 40% and so help feed the world?

There is global consensus that by 2050 the world population will have grown from 6 billion to 9 billion. To feed the extra 3 billion people the world will have to increase food production by more than 40%. Eighty per cent of that increase will have to come from the Developed World.

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Australia is part of the Developed World and Australian agriculture has yet to answer the question as to whether it is capable of increasing food production to meet the projected global demands of the future. Are we capable of increasing food production by at least 40% and so help feed the world?

There has to be some doubt whether we can. Terms of trade in agriculture are lousy and our debts are unmanageable. There has been and continues to be, a reduction in both federal and state funds for research and development (R & D) and in a later article we will tell the story behind some frightening figures on the spread of salinity in Western Australia and Australia. Continue reading “‘We’ll all be Rooned,’ said Hanrahan.”

Self Inflicted Injury

This discussion paper addresses a few of the changes, which have taken place in the eastern wheatbelt of Western Australia over last twenty years. Changes, which have brought us to where we are today, to where some are claiming there is a ‘Crisis in Agriculture’.

Change in life is constant, no more so than in agriculture.

This discussion paper addresses a few of the changes, which have taken place in the eastern wheatbelt of Western Australia over last twenty years. Changes, which have brought us to where we are today, to where some are claiming there is a ‘Crisis in Agriculture’.

The question then becomes if there is a ‘crisis’ what has caused it?

The answer seems to be that it is self-inflicted injury.

Continue reading “Self Inflicted Injury”