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 land is essential.
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 acre block ‘farms’.
* Research rural needs
Encourage and invest in 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, a service run from the universities would reduce costs and help spread research results into rural areas. It will need government investment.
Recruit and train both men and women extension workers. Women workers could play a major a role in helping to train farmers and their wives and partners.
Extension workers could organise rural demonstration events. Spread good ideas from innovative farmers.
New research finding could be tested 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.
* Set up a rural information service
Farmer need a new ‘aglink’ service where they can call up on-line to get the latest information on any rural topic they desire.
Employ journalist that come from farms so they appreciate the needs of rural people.
Set up an effective rural TV program for education purposes. (Country Calendar is for entertaining not education.) We learn best by doing, then by seeing.
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.
Our export earnings and our environment is so important to the future of New Zealand and to the standard of living of our children and our grandchildren.
“Each county is unique and must work things out for themselves.”
Source: “Rolling On” contains many anecdotes of the authors working adventures in agriculture. This e-book is available free from mossassociates.co.nz .
The author has held senior positions in the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries in New Zealand and with the United Nations Development Programme for Asia and the Pacific. He has served as the President of the New Zealand Institute of Agricultural and Horticultural Sciences.
For three years he was a technical adviser to the Food and Fertilizer Technology Center in Taiwan, and also served as a senior lecturer in agriculture extension and management skills at the University of the South Pacific.