07 July 2008

Cows Come Home Shock Horror

I'll be the first to admit that I'm not a fundi on agricultural economics and marketing, but this piece in Bishop Alan's blog makes a lot of sense to me, and I suspect that the behaviour of supermarket chains in South Africa is not all that much different.

Bishop Alan’s Blog: Cows Come Home Shock Horror:
Let’s zoom in on the dirty truth about dairy. The Blue is the farm gate price [click on the link to Bishop Alan's blog to see the graphs]. The Purple is the distributor/ processor element. The Cream, in every sense, is Lord Tesco’s Cut. In 1995, the farmer got about 24 pence a litre, the distributors got about 18, and Lord Tesco and chums got 1 and a bit. That may sound low, but of course he sold many litres compared to the farmer, so he wasn’t exactly short of a few bob. Can you believe it, but these days the farmer gets a bit less, and the distributor much the same, whilst UK supermarkets are taking a huge cut — 10 times as much as back then! The argument for going local is to try and bring some of that margin back to the people who actually do the work. Otherwise some are actually being paid less than 10 years ago. Cut out supermarket Shareholders and for roughly the same price, the farmer gets a living wage.

There's been quite a bit of talk about land reform in South Africa, but with the example of Zimbabwe's utterly botched attempt (because its concern was not with the land or the people, but with the political fortunes of ZANU-PF and its leader, Mad Bob Mugabe) many people are understandably somewhat nervous about it. But it goes beyond land and agriculture and political gain, and Bishop Alan's comments seem to be applicable, mutatis mutandis, to our situation too.


Miss Eagle said...

What land is available for community gardens in urban areas? Does the general public hear much about permaculture in SA. Buying local and growing your own are the best practices to encourage in the way our planet is turning. How possible is it in poor communities over there? What seems to be happening in the Land of Oz - apart from the longest and most severe drought since European settlement - is that agriculture is becoming a patchwork quilt of methodology. There are two sorts of "traditional": those who follow "traditional" methods of ag inputs i.e. chemical fertilizers, Monsanto and Dupont seeds etc. Then there are the "new" methods which give traditional and ancient methods a modern twist: biodynamics, organics, and permaculture. The blogosphere is alive with people who are out there doing it. As that family with the urban homestead in Pasadena, California, say: we have to look after the top six inches of soil. I have had a lovely time this afternoon out in a small corner of my little suburban patch which is a real little permaculture nook. As I tidied up in there and gave some breathing space to some veges, I discovered some lovely, very fat worms and I was so pleased. Not only did my soil look good and feel good - the worms presence clearly gave it the tick of approval. Does Tesco do that?

Steve Hayes said...


What's that?

I've often thought of growing vegetables in our garden, but we'll have to find a way of closing it off to the dogs first.

And then there's the drought/water question.


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