STIMULATING NEW ZEALAND AGRICULTURE
The key to success in agriculture production is to know farmers need and to satisfy them.
Over recent years through lack of planning many mistakes have been made and many backward steps have been taken. Bad advice has caused much stress, financial worries and river pollution.
With growing world population increased food production is vital. With a fast growing local population the protection of highly productive farming land is vital.
Five of the best ways to stimulate New Zealand agriculture
* Set clear realistic national agricultural and horticultural production goals
With the help of Federated Farmers set up an agricultural production council to prepare recommendations for government consideration.
Bring in legislation to protect good food producing land from developers, foreign investors and small 5/10 hectare block ‘farms’.
* Research rural needs
Encourage and invest in more agriculture research.
Where do farmers get their information?
Where can they get objective impartial information?
What are their work pressures?
Where can they recruit trained staff?
What are the training needs of farmers wives and partners?
How can rural safety be improved?
* Revive an objective, impartial extension (advisory) service
At the start, before local offices were set up, a service run from the universities would reduce costs and help spread research results into rural areas.
Recruit and train more extension workers. Women extension workers could play a major role in helping to train wives and partners in their important rural tasks.
Extension workers could organise rural events. Spread good ideas from innovative farmers. New research finding could be tested out in the field under different climatic and soil conditions and demonstrated to farmers.
* Improve practical training skills
Encourage more school farms. Train future farmers in modern practical farming and leadership skills.
Establish more farming cadet schemes and rural training institutes based on sound modern practical skills.
* Implement a rural information service
Farmer need a new ‘aglink’ advisory service where they can call up on-line to get the latest information on any rural topic they desire, such as building yards, controlling weeds or stock breeding etc.
Employ journalist that come from farms so they appreciate the needs of rural people.
Set up an effective rural TV program for educational purposes. (Country Calendar is for entertaining, not educating farmers.) We learn best by doing, then by seeing. TV could be a powerful communication tool.
By cost cutting New Zealand has made many bad mistakes. It’s time to reinvent the wheel and to train more of our own youths in agriculture rather than bringing in cheap foreign labour.
We must take a long term view both in agriculture and in horticulture for the benefit of all New Zealanders.
There will be major changes in the food we eat in the future. We must prepare our farmers, scientist and our extension workers for the revolution ahead and not ‘keep all our eggs’ in the dairy basket.
Our export earnings and our environment are so important to the future of New Zealand and to the standard of living of our children and grandchildren.
“Each county is unique and must work things out for themselves.”
Comments from Dr Clive Dalton after reading this blog.
“Farming is not just ‘the food business’ – it is the ‘health food (and fibre) business’, and that’s the image we have to promote to the world. It’s a niche market and has nowt to do with feeding folks that are hungry. We must stop thinking about production – it has to be about quality, as folks shop for quality in the markets we sell in.
Biosecurity has got to be the real biggie – we are so vulnerable as tourism increases and shipping gets bigger. When and not if we get wiped out by foot and mouth disease we have not sufficient genetic resources ‘on ice’ to restock, so would have to go back where we were 50 years ago. Sheep goats and pigs have no national resources.”
Source: “Rolling On” The authors adventures working in agriculture in many lands for many organisations. This book is available FREE from mossassociates.co.nz