Global Food Security: Feeding Another Three Billion People — Critical for the World, Critical for Australia

Population growth means that by 2050 the world will need to feed approximately 9 billion people, over 2 billion more than today when we already have 1 billion people suffering chronic hunger.

Improving agricultural productivity is one of the fundamental building blocks of the response. So too is the implementation of sustainable agricultural practices — what this conference calls ‘Conservation Agriculture’. So too is the opening of global agricultural markets to provide long-term price incentives to encourage expanded production in developing countries — as well as the necessary investments in rural infrastructure to get product effectively to markets at home and abroad.

As a member of APEC, the EAS, the WTO, the G20, the Commonwealth and all the principal agencies of the UN, Australia will seek to use its role in international bodies to develop a global response to food security.

Another key group of people we need to focus on in the context of food security are the urban poor, who produce little food and often lack the means to buy all they need.

Coupled with this rapid explosion in population in rural and urban areas, is a new and rising threat to food security — that is, climate change.

One of the best ways Australia can contribute to feeding the world and tackling food insecurity is to help boost agricultural productivity through our own significant agricultural research program: our expanding development assistance program which is now at work across the developing world, as well as our many globally active agri-businesses.

Australia has taken a ‘three pillar’ approach in its development assistance program in addressing food insecurity: the promotion of agricultural productivity; the stimulation of rural livelihoods; and encouraging the creation of social safety nets to protect the world’s poorest.

Australia is already working with our African partners to help improve agricultural technologies and techniques, especially in helping introduce conservation agriculture.

Similarly, we are working in the G20 to make sure that food security continues to be a critical part of its development agenda — and we will work for global action, not just words. It’s an agenda that we, the G20 Development and Finance Ministers, worked on last week in Washington as a core G20 priority. It’s also part of the work of the UN Secretary General’s Global Sustainability Report to be completed in the lead up to Rio + 20 next year.

An area that has not fully given effect to its mandate in food security, quite frankly, is the work of the Food and Agriculture Organisation. It has the potential to improve international mechanisms in dealing with food security excess price volatility and agricultural productivity in the future. However, many external reviews have found that the FAO has weak systems, poor controls, a lack of focus on delivering value for money and poor strategic vision.

Original article published at

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