A case of obscured vision… Guest post by Julian Cribb

One of my many hats is being a director of the Dairy Research Foundation which is involved in all sorts of exciting research which includes Future Dairy which bought Australian farmers the Robotic Dairy. You can see the trials being undertaken at the Sydney University Research Farm at Camden here

In honour of the upcoming Dairy Research Foundation Symposium keynote speaker Julian Cribb has agreed to write me a blog post

I draw your attention to this reflection from Julian on our shallow society where people like Craig Thomson take centre stage and the real issues stay in the dressing room

“Back in the 1960s, we’d clearly seen an emerging world food crisis and had launched the Green Revolution to prevent it, lifting global food output by almost 200% in barely 25 years.

Our failure to repeat the miracle in the 2030s and 40s was down to a loss of foresight – we were so obsessed with the trivia of society we simply failed to see what was going on around us. Especially, we failed to make the necessary investments – in knowledge, in skills and in sustainable urban and rural food systems.”

A case of obscured vision ……….

A Case of obscured vision

Dear Children: this is a picture of an Australian policymaker of around 2012 formulating a national food security plan.

I think he is saying something like “She’ll, be right, mate!” but it is hard to be sure, as the voice is rather muffled.

Anyway, you’ll understand that this picture explains all the famines, hunger-wars, failed states, shortages, refugee tsunamis and shockingly high food prices you are experiencing in 2050. Terribly sorry but, besides stuffing the climate, we also didn’t do enough to ensure you had a sustainable food supply. We simply couldn’t see the dimensions of the problem and we left it far too late to do enough to prevent it.

Of course, looking back from 2050 it is blindingly obvious:

– After losing 1 per cent of our farm land a year for the past half century, to degradation and city sprawl, there isn’t enough left to grow double the food

– We ran out of water to grow food in the 2030s, thanks to the megacities and giant resource companies stepping in and taking it off the farmers

– Oil prices went off the chart when the Saudis staged an ‘Arab Spring’ – and food prices went with them. Most farmers and truckers couldn’t afford fuel as we simply hadn’t bothered to develop a sustainable source of transport energy. Several megacities of 20m+ people starved.

– Ditto fertilisers. After the Moroccan revolution (and they supplied two thirds of the world’s P) most farmers simply couldn’t afford it, leading to a yield collapse, especially in high-tech cropping systems.

– After cutting back on agricultural R&D in all western nations for quarter of a century, farmers were left in a massive technology pothole – another reason yields stagnated.

– Two degrees of global warming, accompanied by greater droughts and floods made traditional agriculture much more challenging almost everywhere, cutting food output by around 20%.

This is all rather strange, as we knew that food demand would double by the 2060s, driven by growing populations and rising living standards. Back in the 1960s, we’d clearly seen an emerging world food crisis and had launched the Green Revolution to prevent it, lifting global food output by almost 200% in barely 25 years.

Our failure to repeat the miracle in the 2030s and 40s was down to a loss of foresight – we were so obsessed with the trivia of society we simply failed to see what was going on around us. Especially, we failed to make the necessary investments – in knowledge, in skills and in sustainable urban and rural food systems.

In short, we had our heads up our arses.

Those of you who are by now clutching the ejector seat handle and demanding an escape from this horrible world of the future should front up to the DRF2012symposium to find out how we’re gonna do it!

You only get to hear the good news if you take part.

– Julian Cribb

Author: Lynne Strong

I am a 6th generation farmer who loves surrounding myself with optimistic, courageous people who believe in inclusion, diversity and equality and embrace the power of collaboration. I am the founder of Picture You in Agriculture. Our team design and deliver programs that inspire pride in Australian agriculture and support young people to thrive in business and life

3 thoughts on “A case of obscured vision… Guest post by Julian Cribb”

  1. Wish I was able to go, Julian, as it would obviously be a very entertaining presentation! I understand you don’t want to give too much away but on the other hand, part of the job surely is to get the message out so we can make some progress?

  2. Julian has again summed up the situation crisply. Part of the problem is the complacency that the success of the green revolution has fostered and the eroding of the value “developed” countries place on their farmers and agriculture. Globally we are a lot further behind the eight ball than we were in the 60’s and 70’s……………..so there is a lot of ground to be made up!! Keep up the good work Lynne

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