Earlier this week, Mike Chapman, CEO of Horticulture New Zealand, wrote an article in Rural News on the need for a food security policy for New Zealand:
"Horticulture New Zealand believes it is time to take a strategic and measured look at where we grow our food and protect those regions so that we can feed our future generations with fresh, healthy food. We cannot take for granted that our fruit and vegetable growers can continue to feed NZ as well as generate increasing export returns.
As the organisation representing growers, HortNZ is talking to the Government about a food security policy. This would ensure access to appropriate growing land and adequate water to keep plants alive and growing. Land most suitable for horticulture is being squeezed by the need for more housing for a growing population, and all the infrastructure that goes with that.
NZ is also looking at how we might manage climate change. We need to get the balance right between climate change mitigation and the need to produce healthy food.
One of the weather patterns we are experiencing is concentrated rain followed by longer dry periods. This places pressure on water supply during dryer periods and causes problems from water over-supply during wet periods. Both rural and urban NZ are affected by these weather patterns. The environmental effects go from flooding at one extreme to very low river flows at the other.
In terms of food security, it will not be possible to permit undirected urban and lifestyle expansion into areas where sustainable food growing is possible. As a country, we will need to protect the current growing areas and to identify new areas; and there must be a spread of growing around NZ to ensure that during bad weather in one region, other regions can supply the required food.
We need growing to be spread around the country so that our domestic vegetable supply can be year-round. We also need to keep all the existing fruit and vegetable growing regions around NZ, and plan how we can keep feeding NZers into the future."