Lillian Hanly is looking into the importing of what has been called 'blood phospate' from Western Sahara, occupied by Morocco. There have been three parts broadcast already, the fourth focuses on Home Solutions. That report interviews Kay Baxter from the Koanga Institute and Clare Bradley from Agrisea. Firstly, to recap a little:
Around 170,000 Saharawi people were forced out of their own land when Morocco invaded in 1975, today they live as refugees separated by a constructed wall and littered with mines. Western Sahara is rich in resources, and it is understood Morocco is taking advantage of this. One particular resource that is being mined without the consent of the Saharawi people is phosphate. Two of the three remaining companies in the world to buy this disputed phosphate from Morocco are NZ companies. Australia, Canada, America - all have pulled out of this trade in the hope that the referendum, called for in 1991, can take place. So the Saharawi people can choose their independece. in Part IIII we hear from two different people in Aotearoa with solutions as to how we could use less phosphate - and therefore not rely on a trade that extracts the resource from a country where human rights abuses are taking place.
Kay Baxter is from the Koanga Institute. They have long worked to save heritage food plants, including vegetable seeds and fruit trees as well as being leading practitioners, researchers and teachers of bio-intensive gardening and nutrient dense food production. Now, they are also encouraging a shift to 'regenerative' farming, rather than 'degenerative' - a process which requires major nourishment of soil through fertiliser products. You can find some simple explainers on regeneration here. Kay indicates that pastoral farming has had a huge effect on the way the eco system is connected, leading to poor soil health.
Clare Bradley is the research co-ordinator at Agrisea, a company that works with seaweed to provide nutrients to the agriculture sector. When Lillian first contacted Agrisea, Clare said "farmers in NZ are being oversold Phosphorous products, in-fact over 50% of NZ Dairy Farms tested are over the “target range” for Olsen P (a measurement of plant available P)". So, in actual fact, we might not even need to be important that much phosphate? One of the reasons given by one of the NZ companies that does so was that NZ requires so much phosphate it is harder to source it from places other than Morocco/ Western Sahara - because theirs is the largest supply in the world. Lillian wanted to understand how seaweed could act as a supplement, as well as what other benefits seaweed brings to the world.
Both Kay and Clare disagree with the sourcing of phosphate from Morocco, but also see the solutions to our ever worsening environmental and climate issues in more research, and the understanding of how our ecology worked before the links were broken. Lillian spoke with both of them to understand the movement that is very much occuring of its own accord to shift away from this reliance on phosphate.
This is Clare's full interview.
To find the other parts in the series, you can listen to them here: