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War Economy

Other Wartime Changes

Other Wartime Changes

An interesting wartime development was the Services Vegetable Production Scheme inaugurated in 1942 to meet extra demands for the services, and especially for the United States Forces in the Pacific. The scheme produced 12 million pounds of vegetables in 1942–43 and 36 million pounds in each of the following two seasons. Part was grown by the Department of Agriculture, and part by commercial growers on a contract basis.

To meet the needs of the American forces in the Pacific, dehydration plants were erected, canning factories extended, and packing sheds built to crate the vegetables for export.

The scheme had to face considerable criticism, especially from commercial growers. A good deal of wastage was involved, partly due to uncertainties about the timing and size of military orders and partly to what seemed to New Zealanders to be the over-rigid specifications which the Americans required the produce to meet. However, some waste seems inevitable in the growing and distribution of vegetables.1 The scheme at its height employed a full-time staff of 1000, together with large numbers of seasonal workers. It met a major wartime need, and must be ranked as a success.

After the entry of Japan into the war curtailed supplies of manila and sisal fibre for making ropes, New Zealand flax (phormium tenax) was used as a substitute and, by 1943–44, over 5000 tons of fibre a year was being produced.

Medicinal plants were specially grown in New Zealand to meet a United Kingdom wartime need.

These are only a few examples of extra crops produced to meet special war needs.

1 Wherever possible, mature vegetables which could not be used to fill USJPB orders or for the New Zealand armed forces were dehydrated.