Opinion

Dining boom set to replace mining boom as key driver

Cancun, Quintana Roo. 7 de diciembre de 2010- Activistas y campesinos que participan en la marcha de organizaciones contra los acuerdos que se toman en la COP16 en el hotel Moon Palace.
Cancun, Quintana Roo. 7 de diciembre de 2010- Activistas y campesinos que participan en la marcha de organizaciones contra los acuerdos que se toman en la COP16 en el hotel Moon Palace. Moyses Zuniga Santiago.

TWO events this week mark sharply diverging paths for national and global food systems.

Wednesday (April 17) marked the 17th anniversary of the murder of 19 peasant family farmers in the Brazilian town of Dorado dos Carajas. Members of the million-strong Landless Workers Movement (MST), they were targeted as part of a campaign of intimidation and harassment by big landowners and agribusiness interests, for whom the MST's demands for more equitable access to land and other resources could not be tolerated.

The global small farmers movement La Via Campesina now commemorates April 17 as the International Day of Peasants' Struggle.

Each year hundreds of peasant farmers in many differ- ent countries lose their lives attempting to resist what appears to be a relentless push for greater corporate ownership and control over land, seeds, water and markets.

Thousands more lose their livelihoods and their land as they are forced off their own ancestral lands, often violently, to make way for biofuel plantations and the GM soy mega monocultures that provide feed for the factory farming of pigs and chickens.

All of this is supposedly done in the name of development, progress and efficiency.

Meanwhile, in Melbourne on Thursday (April 18), The Australian and the Wall Street Journal launched the inaugural Global Food Forum. As reported in the Australian, "billionaire packaging and recycling magnate Anthony Pratt" called for a "coalition of the willing" so that Australia can "quadruple our exports to feed 200 million people".

The dining boom will replace the mining boom as the next driver of our economy, apparently. Eyes lit up with estimates of an "additional $1.7 trillion in agriculture revenues between now and 2050 if (Australia) seized the opportunity of the Asia food boom".

Among other measures, this dining boom is said to depend on the so-called northern food bowl: clearing large swathes of northern Australia and irrigating it with dozens of new dams.

But, as Prof Andrew Campbell of Charles Darwin University has pointed out, water is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for successful food production. Good soils are essential, and in our north the soils are "low in nutrients and organic matter, they can't hold much water, they erode easily and they have low infiltration rates". Other obstacles to the rosy future of being Asia's food bowl include extreme monsoonal weather events, high input costs and higher labour costs due to remote locations.

Which brings us back to Via Campesina. They're campaigning for a food system that's fair and sustainable, one that works for people and the land, not simply for shareholders and CEOs.

In June, Via Campesina will hold its sixth international conference, in Jakarta. For the first time, a delegation of four Australian farmers are hoping to join the other delegates from dozens of countries around the world, to discuss the future of family farming and food systems worldwide.

They're asking for support from the Australian public to get there, to make sure the voices of Australian family farmers are heard in these important discussions. Go to pozible.com/project/20941.

Topics:  comment, nick rose



Super sopper for Westside

Westside Tennis Club professional Allan Pade, Heather Welsh, club president Penne Slaviero and treasurer Richard Hennessy show off the club's new prized Super Sopper.

Westside Tennis Club the beneficiary of a great competition prize

Fraser calls for greyhound ban reversal in leaked email

BAN REVERSAL: Coffs Harbour MP Andrew Fraser has called for the NSW Government to reverse its decision to ban greyhound racing.

Coffs Harbour MP calls for State Government to reverse ban

Lifeguard says shark sightings had increased not numbers

SHARKS SPOTTED: Two great white sharks were spotted at Boambee beach this morning by a NSWDPI aerial team.

Great white sharks spotted off Coffs Coast

Local Partners

Nick 'the snake' to call the shots on Survivor jury

Australian Survivor contestant Nick Iadanza.

LATEST evictee is out of the game but will still have a say.

Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber split

Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber

Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber have split after 11 years together.

Why Chris Hemsworth was spotted wearing nail polish

RED CARPET: Do you think Chris Hemsworth is the typical unpolished but well-natured Aussie bloke?

He's now officially the best bloke in Australia

Testament's new album is a concept album

ROME, ITALY- JULY 27, 2016: Testament photographed at The Roman Collisseium in Rome, Italy on July 27,2016. Gene Ambo

Testament to release new album

'Baby' recreates famous Nirvana cover shot 25 years later

The baby from Nevermind album has recreated the iconic cover shot.

PREVIEW: Luke Cage origin story is a strong addition to MCU

Mike Colter in a scene from the TV series Marvel's Luke Cage.

MIKE Colter stars as latest Marvel superhero to get his own series.

Coffs region is hot property

The region’s housing market is looking up, with projects on the radar in Tannum Sands and Boyne Island.

Units and houses are both pulling strong returns for Coffs

UPDATE: Former rodeo champ's sale rained out, now back on

Larkhill local Ken Consiglio is having an auction of most of the things on his property.

'People kept showing up and we had to turn them away'

Couple build their own 'tiny house' for $45k

Holly Bowen and Oli Bucher built their "tiny house" themselves, only hiring a plumber and an electrician. Photo/supplied

The house, which is built on a trailer and can be towed.

Sunshine Beach property breaks real estate record

The property overlooks Sunshine Beach, as the backyard lawn meets the sand.

Sunshine Beach mansion sale smashes real estate record

SOLD: Historic hotel finds new owner

Post Office Hotel Grafton

Photo Adam Hourigan / The Daily Examiner

Pub in new hands and heading in a brand new direction

Peppers Airlie Beach put on the market

ON THE MARKET: Peppers Airlie Beach is being for recievership sale by CBRE Hotels and PRD Nationwide Airlie Beach.

Peppers Airlie Beach is being offered for sale.