Food prices are going up!  Newspapers, duly influenced by their governments, blame the drought in one small part of the world, a few states in the US, as the cause for this sad state of affairs. The politicians are happy; their inept meddling in agriculture is hidden by a godsend dry period. God is the scapegoat, hallelujah!

I wonder how many people believe that story as, evidently, greed is the cause of less food being grown for human consumption. The number of real farmers in this world is diminishing as most governments make life more and more difficult for efficient food productions.

Not surprisingly, the European bureaucrats in Bruxelles are the worst offenders, how that lot manages to proliferate whilst wrecking the economy of about 500 million people is one of the saddest wonders of the earth. In the US the farmers seem to be well treated but big capital steers the food production on the wrong tracks. In the rest of the world, of what we can see, it’s going from bad to worse, South American rain forest is steadily being wiped out and an occasional recalcitrant Indian tribe with it, in order to grow soya beans for the Chinese and sugar cane for the production of ethanol, that famous renewable carburant for our cherished motorcars.

That’s where global insanity has made another great stride forward, aided and abetted worldwide by ignorant politicians and earth-saving greenies. I don’t know who came up with the idea of growing crops like maize, sugarcane and others to be turned into some kind of bio petrol or diesel. Only extra-ordinary improvements in farming methods have kept the food supply more or less in step with a madly growing population and yet big capital is buying up or hiring great chunks of land to grow fuel crops. A dairy farmer in Germany tells the story: She used to hire meadowland for her cows at 300euro but she can’t do that anymore because a bio fuel company has offered 600 euro. The only way such a company can make a profit is with the government’s subsidies and that’s the way taxpayer’s money is used to force a dairy farmer to buy bloody South American soya beans to feed her cattle. Cattle should eat grass, not soya beans. In France I’ve seen unending miles of maize, which surprised me because the French are not great corn eaters. Farmers were a bit shy to tell me what was happening to all that corn, yeah, the coop exports it to Spain and then I found out that the fuel production took place there.

In America the same is happening, despite the fact that it has been shown that to produce 1 litre of ethanol you need the energy of 1½ litre of the stuff. This figure might not be correct but there’s no doubt that to produce one unit of ethanol you need more than one unit of its equivalent energy.   

All this might still have been understandable 10 years ago when the great Peak Oil Scare was paramount and every one thought that the world was running out of oil. That is not the case anymore; new technology has opened up tremendous gas and oil fields, the oil scare is gone, it has become a question of price. Any bio fuel from food crops will always be more expensive than the fossil fuel recently discovered but the bio fuel companies rewarded with subsidies bought from corrupt politicians will not let go.

The same is true of wind farms. Poor Frau Merkel appears at times to be quite sick of being Germany’s boss but she keeps on plodding heroically. When the Japanese had their nuclear power station trouble due to earthquakes and tsunamis, the lady became upset and her ignorance of geology and physics drove her to condemn all German nuclear reactors to a speedy death. All the subsidies she is spending now on windmills and bio fuel are utterly wasted. Frau Merkel does not take into consideration that the Japanese built their stations on top of a volcano, whereas Germany is relatively stable geologically and her hasty reactions were those of a nitwit. Never mind, the British are also engaged on subsidy lane with Don Quichottesque windmills with the only difference that Frau Merkel can pay whereas the Brits can only borrow or start up the pound/press. Lucky fellows!

Here in South Africa the good farmers are disappearing because they are white and the government is black. The government tries to replace white farmers with black ones but it doesn’t work. No one in the whole of Africa seems to understand that the notion ‘black farmer’ is an oxymoron. South African white farmers produce hundred of thousands of tons of maize every year despite poor rainfall and medium to poor quality soils. Many of these farming families have been at it for three centuries and they really know what they’re doing. The black people of this continent have been at it for maybe sixty centuries but not one of them can do better than subsistence farming. Even in Zimbabwe where they were handed functioning farms without any financial disbursements, production soon fell to zero. That’s why Africa has to live on handouts from countries with a white population. South Africa is the exception, the country can still feed itself but without drastic political change that won’t last, neither will enough capital remain to buy food if something is not done energy wise.

Instead of playing around with windmills and sun panels, South Africa has, right next door, enough gas for her energy needs for the next hundred years. It is to be hoped that ’black Eskom engineer’ is not an oxymoron also.


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