Ur­ban creep ‘a ma­jor is­sue’ says Rabobank

The Orchardist - - Comment - Daryl John­son, Rabobank New Zealand chief ex­ec­u­tive

A $1b global pro­gramme to­wards a sus­tain­able food sup­ply, in­clud­ing land restora­tion and for­est pro­tec­tion, has been launched by Rabobank. In New Zealand its ini­tial focus will be on wa­ter, though its chief ex­ec­u­tive has agreed that the loss of grow­ing soils to ur­ban de­vel­op­ment is on the bank’s radar.

Called Kick­start Food, the pro­gramme is in part­ner­ship with UN En­vi­ron­ment. It is to focus on four food is­sues: earth [sus­tain­able and en­vi­ron­men­tally sound food pro­duc­tion]; waste [re­duc­ing food waste through­out the food sup­ply chain]; sta­bil­ity [cre­at­ing a more sta­ble and re­silient food and agri­cul­ture sec­tor] and nu­tri­tion [en­sur­ing a healthy and bal­anced diet for ev­ery­one].

The bank’s New Zealand chief ex­ec­u­tive Daryl John­son said the bank worked closely with its clients in New Zealand’s food and agribusi­ness sec­tor to sup­port them in de­vel­op­ing ini­tia­tives which tackle some of the most press­ing is­sues fac­ing food pro­duc­tion and agri­cul­ture.

He said the Kick­start pro­gramme in New Zealand would have the ini­tial key focus of im­prov­ing the health of New Zealand’s wa­ter­ways.

“We’re cur­rently con­sid­er­ing new ini­tia­tives in this area and de­tails of these will be con­firmed in the com­ing months.”

Asked by this mag­a­zine whether the pres­sure on grow­ing soils through ur­ban de­vel­op­ment was also on the bank’s New Zealand radar, he said:

“This is a trend that Rabobank has iden­ti­fied in­ter­na­tion­ally as a ma­jor is­sue and here in New Zealand the bank is cer­tainly con­cerned that some of New Zealand’s most fer­tile soils are be­ing taken out of pro­duc­tion due to ur­ban­i­sa­tion.

“A greater em­pha­sis may be placed on ur­ban creep as the Kick­start pro­gramme pro­gresses, how­ever, at least ini­tially, the focus in terms of Kick­Start will be on im­prov­ing the qual­ity of New Zealand wa­ter­ways as we want to con­cen­trate our re­sources in one area in or­der to max­imise the im­pact of our ini­tia­tive.”

The bank states that Kick­start embraces the UN Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment Goals. With the world’s pop­u­la­tion grow­ing to­wards nine bil­lion, the de­cline in avail­able arable land and the im­pact of agri­cul­ture on cli­mate change and the en­vi­ron­ment, food was at a crit­i­cal junc­ture. Rabobank is there­fore in­creas­ing its sup­port ef­forts to in­crease food pro­duc­tion by at least 60% to­wards 2050 while re­duc­ing the sec­tor’s en­vi­ron­men­tal foot­print by 50%.

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