Security of food is on agenda

THE Chinese proverb goes that if you teach a man to fish, he will eat for a lifetime.

But the benefits of teaching a man to teach another man to fish are one of many issues to be discussed at an international food security conference held in Brisbane today.

The conference, organised by the Australian non-government organisation the Crawford Fund, will host a range of national and international speakers including the United Nation’s International Fund for Agricultural Development president Dr Kanayo Nwanze.

Crawford Fund chief executive Denis Blight said the main focus of the conference would be to look at what could be done to improve food security in the tropics of both Australia and developing nations.

He said Australian aid to developing countried to help improve agricultural productivity and was a two-way street.

Mr Blight said combined research efforts brought benefits to both Australia and less resilient economies, citing past research into wheat varieties which created a higher yield variety that improved efficiency in agricultural production for strong and weaker economies.

The need for strategies to tackle the growing global food crisis has been highlighted in the Australian media in recent years, and a book by Australian scientist Dr Julian Cribb, who will speak at the conference, brought the issue to the fore last year.

Mr Blight said: “This conference will tackle a lot of issues we are now facing, and hopefully will raise the consciousness of how Australian foreign aid in developing nations can benefit both countries.”

He said Australia’s biggest export, more significant than grains and wool combined, was that of education.

“Foreign students come to Australia to study, and they take that knowledge back to their home countries.

“It is these people skills that may be Australia’s biggest asset in the future, that we cannot only teach a man to fish, or improve the productivity of a fishing operation, but teach a man to teach another man to fish for a fee – these are the people skills that we can export to help tackle global poverty.

“We have already made much progress internationally, with 350 million people in China and South-East Asia now out of poverty in the last five years, but there is much more we need to do.”

The conference at Parliamentary House today is titled “A Food Secure World: Challenging Choices for our North”, and will also discuss to what extent food security will be a problem in the tropics within the next 30 years; future scenarios for food prices, and the sustainable opportunities available for a renewed ‘northern food bowl’.



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