Woolworths invest in Australia’s farming future
Woolworths has decided to boost their support of sustainable farming practices in Australia with the launch of their new $3.25 million Fresh Food Farming program. The program has two main focus areas: sustainable farming; and creating future leaders.
According to Woolworths Ltd CEO Michael Luscombe the program is all about “help(ing) safeguard Australia’s future food security” amidst fears concerning long term food availability and affordability.
“Higher input costs, a rising population and climate change all have the potential to impact the food we eat, which is why industry must assist our farmers to adapt and thrive.”
Luscombe went on to say “Our previous support for the farming community has largely focused on the provision of emergency assistance grants for farming families and recovery grants for rural community infrastructure. It is now time to look to the future and ensure that our farmers are better equipped to be able to manage Australia’s long term food production needs.”
The announcement of this program is well-timed, as the 2010 Intergenerational Report just released by the government predicts an increase in Australia’s population by 2050 to more than 36 million, of which 22 per cent will be over 65 years old. This larger population will need to be fed, so Australia will have to ramp up our food production to avoid becoming reliant on expensive imported food.
Innovative farming methods – particularly in respect to water usage – are becoming increasingly important, as hopes that Northern Australia could become SE Asia’s ‘food bowl’ have been crushed by a Northern Australia Land and Water Taskforce report, which stated that Australia’s north can only support around 60,000 hectares of agriculture – an area smaller than many farms.