Many of us enjoy nostalgic memories of a time when the land close to our homes was a productive market garden, but not many of us appreciate how creeping urban development is swallowing up prime land, creating a dire situation for our food production. Left unchecked, New Zealand faces a food shortage.

Since 1975 almost 10 per cent of our growing land has been lost to urban encroachment, and the situation is now becoming critical. Horticulture New Zealand’s chief executive, Mike Chapman, says the perfect storm is brewing. If we fail to address the issues currently facing our growers, food supplies will be affected. He says it’s time we all took a closer look at the challenge of ensuring New Zealand’s food security.

Onion fields at Pukekohe

“It’s time to take stock and develop a national food security strategy. Things are changing rapidly and we need to look closely at our domestic food supply and be sure that town, city and regional planning decisions are seen in the context of impacting the whole of New Zealand’s food supply,” Mr Chapman says.

NZTODAY spoke to Mr Chapman just after the release of Horticulture New Zealand’s 44-page report, New Zealand domestic vegetable production: the growing story, a public document which clearly spells out the challenges facing us. One of these is the issue of urban encroachment on prime growing land at Pukekohe.

Pukekohe is Auckland’s food basket, right on the doorstep of a region where more than 30 per cent of the country’s population resides. It’s a place where rich volcanic soils and frost-free slopes create some of the best growing conditions in the country. Here, in this uniquely favourable region, green crops grow all year round. And here, the first of the country’s celebrated new-season potatoes have been grown by generations of Indian immigrants, many of them originally from Gujarat State.


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