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



Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

Having battled PND four times, Mel says the secret is sleep

'I just thought, don’t all mothers get no sleep?’

'My husband lasted 6 weeks as a stay at home dad'

APN Hey Mummy Feature for online - stock images. Katie Dykes being interviewed for the webisodes. Photo Marc Stapelberg / The Northern Star

FROM the outside, being a stay at home mum looks like a breeze.

THE EXPERT: Stop judging working mothers

SUPER MUMS: Being a working mums comes down to perfecting time management.

"WORKING for money is all right; so is working because you want to.”

Health and nutrition with kids - how do you balance it?

HOW important is health and nutrition in your household?

Smack or no smack - where do you stand?

THE debate is reignited - is smacking acceptable?

Technology and kids: Do you ever cut their wi-fi?

Check out our new video series featuring mums having a chat

Fast recovery for candidate

ON MEND: Cowper’s Greens candidate Carol Vernon with Senator Lee Rhiannon.

Fast recovery for candidate

Community blossoms in the garden

COMMUNITY GROWTH: Louise Robinson and Kieran Jarrett, from Traditionally Grounded Cafe Nambucca, are keen to take on the bush tucker area of the community garden. The cafe is an initiative run by a local Aboriginal group to provide jobs for the long-term unemployed.

Community blossoms in the garden

W.E. Smith back on track

New work at W.E. Smith's manufacturing plant at Boambee

W.E. Smith back on track

Latest deals and offers

Dash Cam of Slip in Snow

Even light snow can be hazardous.

Dash cam shows how easy it is to lose control in even light snow.

Chaos outside Istanbul Airport

Turkish police block the road after an suicide bomb attack at Ataturk Airport in Istanbul, Turkey, 28 June 2016. At least 10 people were killed in two separate explosions that hit Ataturk Airport.

Distress as cars escape Istanbul airport after bombing.

Panic inside Istanbul Airport

Turkish police block the road after an suicide bomb attack at Ataturk Airport in Istanbul, Turkey, 28 June 2016. At least 10 people were killed in two separate explosions that hit Ataturk Airport.

Dramatic vision from inside Istanbul airport after explosin.

Prominent Coffs Harbour beach resort listed for sale

The Aanuka Beach Resort has been listed for sale

Aanuka Beach Resort, without its accommodation component, up for sale

PROPERTY BOOM: Coast prices set to skyrocket

Like other areas in south-east Queensland, the Sunshine Coast is at the start of the upturn on the property clock.

Values predicted to rise 25-33%