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



Woman taken to hospital after crashing into building

Police and paramedics rush to the site of the accident at Moonee Street

Woman crashes car into building in Coffs Harbour

School's out as 50,000 NSW teachers stop work

About 50,000 state school teachers across NSW will stop work on Thursday morning for a salary vote.

Minimal supervision will still be available as 50,000 teachers vote

Angler catches boat-sized bull shark, pats it

BIG CATCH: Tony Lenthall with his large 3m bull shark caught in the Nambucca River on Sunday.

AFTER years of trying Tony Lenthall finally got the one he was after

Local Partners

Relief for storm affected farmers

NSW Government's announces it will provide Agriculture Natural Disaster Relief following wild storms in early August.


Man builds playground entirely out of packing tape

Artist Eric Lennartson is in the process of completing his huge tape sculpture at the Ipswich Art Gallery.

VIDEO:And here's where you can play on it.

Countdown to Woodford Folk Festival begins

ECONOMIC BOON: Woodford Folk Festival is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year.  Photo Contributed

The first larger-than-life inhabitants have stepped into Woodfordia

'I need to do what I can': 65km walk for cancer patient

Karlee Robinson is walking from Caloundra to Noosa for her cousin Aaron Parker, who has terminal brain cancer.

What do you do when someone you love has terminal brain cancer?

Taylor Lautner 'spotted smooching co-star'

Taylor Lautner has been romantically linked to Billie Lourd

David Beckham's tattoos come to life for UNICEF campaign

David Beckham has called for an end to violence against children

Pop star Liam Payne's Facebook hacked with porn

"Things that can happen to you when you don't have sex."

Tim Roth was abused by his grandfather

Tim Roth was abused by his grandfather during his childhood.

Leo designs shocker tattoo for Tom Hardy after lost bet

Leonardo DiCaprio has designed a new tattoo for Tom Hardy

Hollywood star at home on the Coffs Coast

FEELING LUCKY, SON?: Scott Eastwood visited the Coffs Coast

Guess which Hollywood star has been seen around the Coffs Coast?

Developer's grand new multi-million dollar estate

NEW ESTATE: This is the only plan revealed by the property developer's new Billabongs Estate in Agnes Water.

DEVELOPER given the go ahead for a massive estate with 149 homes.

Banks reclaim Gladstone homes as job losses bite

LONG FALL: Property experts Heron Todd say, based on key market indicators, Gladstone is still travelling to the bottom of the market, with property prices set to get cheaper.

Property valuers say Gladstone housing market hasn't hit the bottom

The million dollar property to test Mackay's market

This Victoria St building will go to auction Tuesday and investors will be watching closely to see how much it sells for.

'High profile architect designed CBD asset' goes to auction

Chinese locked out of Australian property market

The rules are different if you're a foreigner

The buyer was from China - the trouble started right there

Morrison signs off on new affordable rental model

Australia's Treasurer Scott Morrison speaks during a press conference after a meeting of the Council of Federal Financial Relations at Parliament House in Canberra, Friday, Dec. 2, 2016.

Scott Morrison signed off on development of a new financing model

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!