Avoiding a global food crisis
5 March 2014
Constant change in global demographics is creating a radically different landscape of world agriculture, delegates at ABARES Outlook 2014 heard today.
“Almost every challenge facing Australian agriculture - from better infrastructure to greater productivity - stems from the changing face of global agriculture,” ABARES Executive Director Karen Schneider said.
“It's essential to understand the global context of Australian agriculture, because our response to changing demand and rising competition would define future success.”
Executive Board Member of Rabobank, Berry Martin, said the next GFC we will face may be the 'global food crisis'.
“We need to understand the increase in world food demand projected over the next 35 years will be driven by income as well as population. The world can expect an increase in global incomes of over 180 per cent by 2050.
“The biggest growth in income and GDP will come in Asia. Meanwhile, half the world's population lives on a quarter of the world's arable land - while the amount of land available to farming is continuing to decrease.
“It's clear there are major opportunities for Australia here.
“The world must farm more sustainably and productively with less land to meet global agriculture demands,” Mr Martin said.
The conference heard, to fill demand, the world would need to increase production efficiency by 1.2 - 2 per cent each year, placing the domestic productivity demands on Australian agriculture in clear context.
Tassos Haniotis, Director of Economic Analysis at the European Commission, explained the challenges of EU Common Agriculture Policy reform in similar terms.
“Supply concerns in the EU - in particular productivity, the impacts of changing climates and terms of trade - are common to agriculture production in many parts of the world,” Mr Haniotis said.
“The goals of EU reform include enhanced competitiveness through better market orientation and a more effective food supply chain and improved sustainability, in part through better research and development.”
Mariele Pickler of Bayer Crop Science Brazil analysed the experience of Brazil, which is continuing to develop an extremely competitive agricultural sector in many of the growing worlds global markets.
“Since the 1990's, Brazil has increased the area dedicated to grains production by around 46 per cent,” Ms Pickler said.
“However, our grain production in that time has increased more than 300 per cent.
“Brazil has saved more than 68 million hectares of arable land in the area of grain production because of better farming practices, such as better application of biotechnologies, nanotechnologies and low carbon agriculture.”
Speakers in the conference's global focus session emphasised a common theme of improving the competitiveness of domestic agriculture sectors through reduced regulatory burdens and better supply chain infrastructure.