What if there was a way to ensure mangoes are available in Australia year round, Australian crops are better prepared for potential threats, and over 490 million people were lifted from food insecurity in the Asia-Pacific region? This week we look at the two-way benefits of international development agricultural research.
Australia has two main roles in global food security. Firstly, Australia has a role as the farm to many parts of the world, producing quality foods which are exported globally. But, as the saying goes – give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime – Australia has huge offerings in exporting the aforementioned agricultural knowledge harnessed down under.
The Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) is an independent government agency that funds partnerships and research programs to assist in food security and poverty reduction.
“What we’re trying to do is work with these countries and identify what the barriers are for farmers to become more successful” ACIAR global partnerships general manager Melissa Wood said.
Importantly for Australian farmers and consumers, internationally focused Australian-funded agricultural research helps not only people facing food insecurity, but Australian farmers and consumers too.
“Australia’s most valuable asset to support food security in our region and the world is our knowledge base in agriculture” (Prasad & Langridge 2013)
In a pure food production and exports sense, Australian farmers feed around 70 million people (accounting for food waste and supply chain losses). When the contributions of Australia’s agricultural research are taken into consideration, Australia contributes to the diets of up to 400 million people worldwide. However, with the population expected to boom to nine billion by 2050, Australia (nor any country) can be the food bowl for Asia or the world. But the knowledge that Australia can supply can improve agricultural systems globally to ensure global food security.
Focusing in on a mango research program run and funded by ACIAR, Melissa Wood said:
“We work in mangoes in Pakistan and that’s been really successful because it means that mangoes are available out of season in Australia. The other reason why it’s good to work on these crops that also occur in Australia is we learn a lot about the pest and diseases and threats”
The experience in managing the threat in mangoes in Pakistan means that if an incursion or similar issue arises in Australia, farmers have experts at the ready to manage the spread and disruption presented by the disease. One of the many Australian benefits delivered by agricultural research for food security.
Featured image source: Georgina Smith, CIAT