Securing our food sources: how Australia can lead in a time of agricultural uncertainty

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Around the world, populations are rapidly growing at a rate experts fear will soon outstrip our ability to feed them.

Researchers at UQ and industry are working to address this challenge and advocate for more awareness and support of Australian agriculture. 

David Crombie, a UQ alumnus, agribusiness industry leader and advisory board member for the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation (QAAFI) at UQ, said Australia was uniquely positioned to address the challenges posed by food insecurity. 

“Australia is well positioned to play a leadership role in addressing one of the great challenges for humanity – that of food security," Crombie said.

“Within our Region population is increasing with more mouths to feed and there is pressure on arable land and water. At the same time economic growth is changing the nature of food demand with the emergence of increasingly fragmented markets. 

“This presents opportunities for Australian agriculture. We should concentrate our effort where we have a competitive advantage in the production of safe natural food and fibres which have supply chain integrity delivering into differentiated middle and upper- income market opportunities," he said.

Collaboration between industry and research is key to addressing this issue said Crombie. 

“We have a responsibility to share road tested production technologies with farmers throughout our region to increase production efficiency and reduce food waste,” he said.

“It is an exciting time to be engaged in agriculture and there will be new career opportunities emerging. Food production is our oldest industry, we are good at it and we have demonstrated our ability to adapt to changing circumstances.”

The University of Queensland will be leading the way in providing innovative solutions to the world’s food-gap issue, and Professor Mark Cooper the new Chair in Prediction Based Crop Improvement will be at the helm of some of this research. 

In a recent UQ ChangeMakers Podcast, Professor Cooper detailed the work that UQ was conducting to address food security concerns. 

"Even in my career in the time that I've been involved in agriculture, a billion extra people are on this planet."

"There is a great demand, and a lot of change, and agriculture has to keep up with that."

"The work that we're doing has a real interface between observing the agriculture systems work - so actually trying to understand the needs of the people and society and thinking about those demands - and designing experiments that generate data about how crops perform in those systems," Professor Cooper said.

Want to learn more?

Check out the full UQ ChangeMakers Podcast on racing to close the world's food gap with Professor Mark Cooper.