Calls made for a national food security forum

Posted by Editorial on 14th October 2009

Horticulture industry body Growcom has today urged the introduction of a national food security forum to be attended by representatives of all levels of government in order to put together a plan for increased food security in light of recent dire predictions of future food demands in Australia and overseas.

Chief Executive Officer Alex Livingstone noted that the United Nations was planning a world summit on food security in November because of disturbing predictions for global food requirements in the next 40 years.

Mr Livingstone said a national approach was also needed across all governments in Australia because of the urgent need to adequately secure land, water, energy, infrastructure and labour needs to produce the food the nation and the world would require in the next 40 years, in the face of population growth, rapid urbanisation and climate change challenges.

“Horticultural growers who attended yesterday’s launch of Primary Industries Week in Brisbane by Primary Industries Minister Tim Mulherin could be forgiven for coming away thinking that the Queensland Government did not have a coherent plan to increase food production in this state, despite the stated goal of boosting the value of agriculture to $34 billion by 2020,” he remarked.

Mr Livingstone said this was despite the disturbing reports which had circulated in recent weeks about the expected dramatic increase in Australia’s and the world’s population in the years ahead.

This week, the United Nations’ Food and Agricultural Organization said food production would have to increase by 70 per cent in the next 40 years to feed the world’s growing population.

“The FAO is calling on governments, including Australia’s governments, to ensure that agriculture became more productive in terms of yield growth and improved cropping intensity – and that requires significant investment and long term planning,” Mr Livingstone advised.

He added that Megan Clark, CEO of CSIRO, told the National Press Club earlier this month that in the next 50 years the world must produce as much food as has been consumed in our entire human history.

“Dr Clark said that Australian scientists were helping by making scientific developments in new drought tolerant crop varieties, high yielding crops, greater nitrogen use efficiency and improved crop nutritional benefits,” Mr Livingstone said. “Clearly, we have the brainpower, the land and the experience in this country to meet the challenges we face to provide the food and fibre we will need for an increased population here and overseas.”

“We now just need the political willpower from all tiers of government to plan and invest in how we will meet these challenges in the years ahead.”