Australia holds talks with UN over food security

Posted by James Ferre on 8th August 2008

Australian farmers’ capacity to boost global food security has topped the agenda in talks between the UN food agency chief and the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Tony Burke.

Mr Burke and United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Director-General Dr Jacques Diouf met in Canberra on Wednesday.

“Australia’s advanced agriculture sector and our position as a major agricultural exporter give us a box seat to be part of the solution to the food security crisis,” Mr Burke reported. “We have a wealth of knowledge and experience, including agricultural expertise, to help countries to increase their agricultural productivity. Despite the worst drought on record, Australia still exported food worth more than $23 billion in 2006-07.”

“No country can ignore the impact of rising food prices on food security, particularly in developing nations. The Rudd Government is committed to addressing the crisis through increased development assistance and humanitarian aid, taking part in multilateral processes, and continuing the push for trade policy reform,” Mr Burke added. “A responsible approach to high world food prices will include practical measures that provide immediate relief and, over the longer term, greater investment and productivity in the agriculture sectors of developing countries.”

Mr Burke indicated the recent failure of the Doha Round of talks was a setback that could be overcome. “Australian farmers are among the most productive in the world and the Australian Government will support them all the way. We have tripled our additional research budget and have just announced a $26.5 million training project to help farmers prepare for climate change,” he advised. “The failure of WTO members to get a breakthrough in the Doha Round of talks in Geneva last week was a setback, but the Rudd Government will do everything it can to get negotiations back on track. Nothing will address food security more effectively than a successful outcome in that round.”