10:05am – Regional Development Australia Programs

Ben Maguire – Deputy Chair, RDASI

Regional Development Australia (Southern Inland) expertise includes Grant Support, Business Accelerator programs, Food Hubs, Renewable Energy and the Digital Economy.

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Food Security

The recognised definition of the term “Food Security” comes from the Food and Agriculture Organization and states it is: “When all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.” Globally there is enough food produced for every human being to be fed adequately, it is problems with distribution that causes this not to be happening. It is agreed that access to food is a basic human right but even today one in nine people will go hungry. It is generally established that food will be sold where it will raise the highest price. This has led to activists lobbying for changes to this system that can lead to famine and deprivation in poorer countries whilst richer countries throw away huge quantities of edible food. But there is an even more prevalent form of hunger and that is people receiving a lack of micronutrients which can lead to a wide range of physical and mental impairments. Again those lacking in vital nutrients tend to live in poorer countries. It is estimated that in order to adequately feed the global population in 2050 global food production will have to increase by 70%, a huge feat when taking into account climate change. Encouraging gender equality can also have very beneficial results on food production in developing countries.

Food security is not a new concern; it is believed that it has always been a human issue since ancient times. Successful food security policy incorporates a measure of resilience to future disruption of critical food supply due to droughts, shipping disruptions, fuel shortages, economic instability, and war. The Food & Agriculture Organisation set out Food Security’s four interrelated elements: availability, access, utilisation and stability.

Availability – This does not just mean quantity but also access to a diverse range of quality food stuffs.

Access – This can be either physical access to food, or economical access.

Utilisation – How food can benefit health in the human population by supplying correct levels of nutrients.

Stability – The overarching goal is to provide enough safe, nutrient rich food at all times to all of societies demographics and nations.

 

Australia has a particularly long food supply chain that involves “just in time” delivery via long haul international shipments and national road networks delivering to retailers. This type of food distribution chain can be susceptible to disruption and therefore food security is constantly monitored. There has recently been a call for shortening these food distribution channels to be shortened for improving local production and consumption. Food councils in America and Europe are trying to connect citizens to food producers, markets and policy makers to build capacity and resilience in local food systems. Australia is also well placed to help developing countries improve their food yields by sharing its extensive agricultural research and technology. The similarities Australia shares with Africa’s own climate make this sharing of information pertinent. The ACIAR (Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research) has a strong history of bringing Australian and international researchers together to develop solutions to enhance sustainable agricultural productivity.