Duxton’s Agri Bits and Pieces – Vol. 346
Posted on: August 17th, 2017

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

This week’s quote of the week comes from Beijing – based Chinese policy specialist Erlend Ek, in relation to new import standards in China as its government aims to implement food safety and agriculture policy reforms.

“They are heading toward quality; they want to be seen as a quality producer…they have just revised 6000 national standards for food, China is at a critical stage of a transition from planned economy toward a modern agriculture industry’

AUSTRALIAN CONSUMER RETAIL PRICE INFLATION

From 1970 to 2011 Australia’s Bureau of Statistics (ABS) tracked the average retail prices of selected items. The manner in which the ABS calculated changed over the years as the standardised measurements for these common grocery items changes, for the purposes of this analysis the units have been standardised and converted. This results of which conclude that the average annual rate of price increase from 1970 to 2011 is 6.1%. The results for which can be seen in the table below.

HOW FARMING GIANT SEAWEED CAN FEED FISH AND FIX THE CLIMATE

Fish are not the focus of Bren Smith’s new enterprise, but rather kelp and high-value shellfish. The seaweed and mussels grow on floating ropes, from which hang baskets filled with scallops and oysters. The technology allows for the production of about 40 tonnes of kelp and a million bivalves per hectare per year.

The kelp draw in so much carbon dioxide that they help de-acidify the water, providing an ideal environment for shell growth. The CO2 is taken out of the water in much the same way that a land plant takes CO2 ‑out of the air. But because CO2 has an acidifying effect on seawater, as the kelp absorb the CO2 the water becomes less acid.

Seaweeds can grow very fast – at rates more than 30 times those of land-based plants. Because they de-acidify seawater, making it easier for anything with a shell to grow, they are also the key to shellfish production. And by drawing CO2 out of the ocean waters they help fight climate change.

The potential of seaweed farming as a tool to combat climate change was outlined by the University of the South Pacific’s Dr Antoine De Ramon N’Yeurt and his team. Thei analysis reveals that if 9% of the ocean were to be covered in seaweed farms, the farmed seaweed could produce 12 gigatonnes per year of biodigested methane which could be burned as a substitute for natural gas. The seaweed growth involved would capture 19 gigatonnes of CO2./They say ‘could produce sufficient biomethane to replace all of today’s needs in fossil-fuel energy, while removing 53 billion tonnes of CO2 per year from the atmosphere… This amount of biomass could also increase sustainable fish production to potentially provide 200 kilograms per year, per person, for 10 billion people. Additional benefits are reduction in ocean acidification and increased ocean primary productivity and biodiversity.’

Given its phenomenal growth rate, the kelp could be cut on a 90-day rotation basis. It’s possible that the only processing required would be the cutting of the kelp from the buoyancy devices and the disposal of the fronds overboard to sink. Once in the ocean depths, the carbon the kelp contains is essentially out of circulation and cannot return to the atmosphere. Only entrepreneurs with vision and deep pockets could make such mid-ocean kelp farming a reality. But of course where there are great rewards, there are also considerable risks. One obstacle potential entrepreneurs need not fear, however, is bureaucratic red tape, for much of the mid-oceans remain a global commons. If a global carbon price is ever introduced, the exercise of disposing of the carbon captured by the kelp would transform that part of the business from a small cost to a profit generator. Even without a carbon price, the opportunity to supply huge volumes of high-quality seafood at the same time as making a substantial impact on the climate crisis are considerable incentives for investment in seaweed farming.

 

CHART OF THE WEEKThis week’s chart of the week comes from the Food and Agriculture Organization illustrating the global trends and challenges that are shaping our future.

CHART OF THE WEEK

This week’s chart of the week comes from Bloomberg’s Europe’s Butter Mountain has Melted Away with global  consumption of butter rising 3% in 2017 according to USDA data. Increasing European consumption has dwindled stockpiles that has sent global prices skyrocketing.


 

JOKE OF THE WEEK

 

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