INDEPENDENT NEWS

Food Security for New Zealand

Published: Fri 31 May 2019 09:08 AM
Survival Movement NZ has launched a petition asking Hon Damien O'Connor, Minister of Food Safety and Agriculture, and Prime Minister Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern to launch a ‘Think Tank’, or working group, to investigate New Zealand’s food security.
This is not just about food security for the poor; it is disaster planning, (although the poor are the most vulnerable). How resilient are we really?
With our reliance on imports, and the exporting of our best produce overseas, we query that we could survive and thrive if a major disaster struck.
“We would like the government to plan ahead and avert suffering, and the breakdown of law and order if shortages cause prices to rise dramatically or food supplies fail.” says Er, who launched the petition. “It is the right of all people to have access to affordable food and clean water.”
Food security incorporates a measure of resilience to future disruption or unavailability of critical food supply due to various risk factors including droughts, shipping disruptions, fuel shortages, economic instability, or war.
Things that could threaten this country’s ability to provide food to everyone right now are global economic instability, or the effect on food supplies of climate change, or category 4+ cyclone hitting a large centre.
In the longer term we face threats such as loss of biodiversity through insect collapse which scientists are warning us about; chemical and industrial sprays; monocultures in farming; our reliance on imported food and fuel; and overfishing and pollution of the oceans and waterways. There are also natural threats such as meteors, solar flares and of course volcanic eruptions and earthquakes.
Three months of basic food and fuel must be stored in this country at all times.
Planning for food shortage must be addressed urgently since to ensure this will take time. Look first at our dependence on Australia for wheat.
We need cash security – what happens when the ATMs stop working?
It will be up to the Think Tank to come up with solutions at a governmental level.
Since the government has given $95m in the Wellbeing Budget to science and research for climate change, there should be an ample chance to fund this initiative.
Domestic prices should be regulated to restrict price escalation. Food growers, manufacturers and retailers have a moral responsibility to ensure prices don't escalate and that people in this country are fed. We already pay export prices for much of our food and that hurts many of our own people.
“The’ Think Tank’ is just a start in making New Zealand resilient”, says Er. “There are many things that we can do individually and locally as well at a government level, and the Facebook group that we have started is full of positive ideas.”
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations identified the four pillars of food security as availability, access, utilization, and stability. For New Zealand to be truly resilient, we must ensure we address those four securities at all times by actively preparing for the future.

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