The need to produce more food in some regions of Asia during the past fifty years was—for a time—achieved by increasing the yields of grain crops by as much as 2.5 percent per year using industrial farming methods. These methods relied on high-yielding hybrid seeds and more recently seeds of genetically modified (GM) crops, synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, and intense irrigation. But by 2004 annual growth rates of crop yields began declining, e.g. the annual growth in yield for rice crops dropped to as low as .5 percent.
Mark Fergusson is Chief Organic Officer, and also Chief Executive & Chief Financial Officer of Down to Earth, one of Hawaii’s leading natural & organic food store chains. The company has six locations: Honolulu, Kailua, Kaka‘ako, Pearlridge, and Kapolei on Oahu; and Kahului on Maui.
Mark moved to Hawai'i in 1991 to join Down to Earth to take the opportunity to work for a company in harmony with his personal values, a strong commitment to organic food production, sustainability, and healthy living – including the promotion of a vegetarian diet.
Born and raised in Sydney Australia, Mark received a bachelor’s degree in economics from Macquarie University and is a fellow of CPA Australia.
Mark is President and a director of HOFA (Hawai’i Organic Farming Association); is a founding member of Label It Hawaii, and speaks on the need for GMO labeling; serves on the advisory board of the Vegetarian Society of Hawai’i; and, has served as a volunteer mediator for the Mediation Center of the Pacific. He resides in Kailua with his wife Sandy. They have three children – two sons and a daughter.
As concern over diminishing soil quality grows in the Asia-Pacific region, natural farming methods may hold the cure. The prime cause of soil erosion and nutrient depletion during the past thirty years is over-application of chemical fertilizer.
This is the finding of a study by the Graduate School of the Chinese Academy of Science, which notes that farmers have become too dependent on artificial fertilizers. They haven't been building up their soil with organic matter that nurtures the soil naturally and binds it together to help resist erosion due to wind and rain.
In many Asian and South Asian cultures, the health benefits of rice and other staple starches are well established. Lacking this cultural knowledge, many people in Western countries have bought into fad diets that encourage the consumption of high-fat protein from meat and dairy products. These diets discourage people from eating starches and carbohydrates (grains).