Time to act on food security

16 Aug 2018

P21

It’s time to act on food security New Zealand.  We cannot take for granted that our fruit and vegetable growers can continue to feed New Zealand, as well as generate increasing export returns to benefit the economy. We need to take a strategic and measured assessment of where we grow our food, and protect those areas so that we feed our future generations with fresh and healthy food. We need a food security policy.

Deloitte has produced a report – New Zealand’s food story: The Pukekohe hub -  which looks at the economic contribution this growing area makes to Auckland and the wider country, and its role in feeding New Zealanders.  Although this report is focused on the Pukekohe hub, it is a proxy for many other towns and cities around New Zealand.  The report gives us facts, figures, analysis and modelling to use in submissions to central and local government. Just one facts explains how important the Pukekohe hub is as a growing area for not only Auckland but all of New Zealand: the Pukekohe hub is 3.8% of New Zealand’s vegetable and fruit growing area but produces 26% of the value.  Pukekohe not only feeds Auckland, but at certain times during the year feeds New Zealand – this is because it is too cold, or perhaps too wet further south to grow some vegetables throughout the year. The South Island supplies carrots and parsnips in the winter. We need growing to be spread around the country, so that our domestic vegetable supply can be year-round. Then, if one areas suffers very cold and very wet weather, or an adverse weather event, other growing areas, provided they are not similarly affected, can supply our vegetables. We also need to ensure that we keep all the existing fruit and vegetable growing regions around New Zealand, and plan how we can keep feeding New Zealanders into the future.

In the report, Deloitte makes six recommendations, having analysed the Pukekohe hub’s absolute value using the Treasury’s Living Standards Framework four capitals: social, natural, human and financial, which are explained in their report.  These recommendations lead to creating a National Policy Statement, under Resource Management Act, as a first step to developing a comprehensive food security policy for New Zealand. The Government is committed to this and we are working with them on it. The National Policy Statement is a direction to all the councils around the country, and will be a step in ensuring consistent policy New Zealand-wide to enable growing food by making sure that elite soils are identified, and water and nutrient allocations are secured.  When it comes to protecting elite soils, the goal is to achieve a sensible balance between building houses and growing our food.  What we need to establish is the framework for the future so that there is certainty around what land is reserved for growing our food and what land is for planting houses.  Only five percent of our land is suitable for growing vegetables and fruit.  That leaves 95% for houses, so surely we can reach an accommodation. 

We are not asking for the earth – just enough earth to feed you

- Mike Chapman, CEO

You can find out more about the Deloitte reports – including a summary version – here.