June 2018 



As I travel the world and see so many different production systems it never ceases to impress me, the way that farmers adapt their production systems to suit their environment and the restrictions that their land areas impose upon them.

Currently travelling in China, we are seeing massive production bases interspersed with small scale production, using every small parcel of land to grow crops and vegetables. This is a very impressive sight for me coming from the United Kingdom, where land is more and more being given over for recreation and the creation of decorative gardens - whilst our population rely on supermarkets to supply them with instant meals.

These traditional small-scale producers have not lost the skills needed to maximise their crop yields by natural means. The latest technology developed by our scientists is now being made available to them to help them maintain and increase production.

Genetics will be the first step forward to increase yields and increase disease resistance to produce healthier crops and livestock. Having achieved this where I am travelling now in Sichuan Province, it is very obvious that for perishable vegetable crops rapid access to markets is essential distance and terrain do not make this an easy task. Although the government have invested heavily in a superb road system building and development is necessarily taking place at an alarming pace which is inevitably putting more pressure on the major limiting factor land space.

Marketing and cooperation between the villages must be a way forward to get products to the markets in a fit condition.

In common with all countries that I visit, the young people do not wish to stay at home to farm, long-term this is not good as inherited skills are lost.

This visit moves on to inspect some very large-scale pig breeding farms. In order to improve food safety, the Government is encouraging large scale production. This is because it can be easier to control the food safety measures needed, getting meat produced hygienically and healthily into the food chain. Anti-microbial Resistance is a well-recognised concern with antibiotic use, much more easily regulated in large units that can employ professional veterinary services.

These units rely on good quality feeds being produced and delivered by mills that can use the latest technologies to produce a range of diets for the animals formulated to fit each stage of production whilst being palatable.

Capital investment needs to be high and we have seen this week at a major exhibition world class technology for all stages of production on offer. To justify this outputs have to be high and markets secured. Even here in China, which has an insatiable appetite for pig meat, prices are volatile.

Therefore, for business to be successful they need to be technically efficient in their production methods, using and maintaining stock of high genetic merit these must have rations made allowing them to fulfil their merit. Again, I repeat the need for excellent milling and feed production.

Encouraging and motivating staff to run these units remains a world-wide challenge and is evident here.

Above all, we all have one thing in common, we all rely on food and clean water. As our world population continues to expand, our challenges are increased to secure the worlds food supply.

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