Ian Pigott farms 690ha
(1700 acres) of owned,
rented, share-farmed and
contract-farmed land in
partnership with his father
from Thrales End,
Harpenden, Herts. Wheat,
oilseed rape, spring barley,
beans and peas are the main
crops on the flinty,
medium clay soils
I have been following the World Summit in Johannesburg with interest. This world championship of political chess sees countries wanting to take everything and give nothing. Agriculture appears to be both political hot potato and powerful bargaining chip.
The US, as usual, continues to take the "throw money at the problem" approach. By being the donator of more than 50% of the African emergency aid President Bushs administration seems to reckon it toes the line on environmental issues. In contrast many developing countries refuse to tighten up on environmental commitments unless they are given more aid.
The current famine in Africa highlights the state of confusion and petulance among world summit delegates. Zimbabwe, Zambia and Mozambique reject World Health Organisation endorsed food aid because it may be genetically modified. The EU interferes saying it will not back the WHO claims of GM safety. The three African nations claim the GM aid will affect exportability of home produce, post famine. Meanwhile 300,000 will die from starvation.
There is a lack of understanding in the UK media as well. An editorial of a leading broadsheet states that by abolishing agricultural subsidies "food companies and consumers would welcome lower prices for their ingredients." I suggest that if commodity prices were not multilaterally depressed many of the issues being addressed at the world summit would be tackled much more objectively.
Harvest has been very much a mixed bag. First wheats were a high point, especially Consort and Malacca, as is the staffs continued commitment to work some very long hours and the reliability of the combine. Lows have been the yield of the second wheats, which were not treated with Latitude (silthiofam), the quality of all the wheat bar Malacca, and the continuing mediocrity of break crops.
With combining finished, oilseed rape drilled and stale seed-beds prepared, would you believe it, we are now in desperate need of rain. *
With harvest home, Ian Pigott has been taking a keen interest in the World Summit in Johannesburg.