The annual Crawford Fund Conference is an important event each year, bringing focus to Australia’s role in ensuring global food and nutrition security. This year’s event, of which CEAT was a sponsor, marked 35 years since the Crawford Fund was established, and the 40 year anniversary of the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR).
From the 15-16 August at the Australian Parliament House, a diverse group of attendees from across science, agriculture, politics, business and civil society gathered to reflect on the mutual benefit and impacts of Australian investment on global food security and poverty alleviation in the last three and-a-half decades. As well as reflecting on and celebrating achievements to date, many of the presenters spoke about the effect of emerging threats including climate change and geo-political instability on agricultural production, food chains and the environment.
There was a strong consensus among speakers that food security is a pressing issue that the world must address now, both to alleviate existing shortages of food in many countries, but also to prevent a crisis in the longer term.
Speaking at the conference, ACIAR CEO Professor Andrew Campbell said the global food security challenge had changed over the decades and addressing it was now far more complex than in years past.
“It is no longer sufficient to simply grow more food. We certainly need to produce more food, but it must be healthier food, grown more sustainably, shared more equitably, while wasting much less,” Professor Campbell said.
“For the first time in human history, we need to shrink the global footprint of agriculture in terms of the amount of land, water, energy, nutrients and carbon we use or emit, per unit of food, consumed by people.”
As well as Professor Campbell, some of the other interesting speakers the conference heard from were:
- Dr Jenny Gordon, Member of ACIAR’s Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning Advisory Panel, and the Asian Development Bank Institute’s Advisory Committee on agricultural research and development as a driver for social change
- Professor Neena Mitter, Director, Centre for Horticultural Science, and Director, ARC Research Hub for Sustainable Crop protection at QAFFI on innovation for responsible agriculture
- Dr Alison Bentley, Director Global Wheat Program at CIMMYT on concrete actions governments need to take to mitigate the food crisis
You can read about all of the speakers and see some of their presentations here.
The event was a sobering reminder of the scale of the challenge the world faces in ensuring a food secure future for all. While the problems ahead are many and complex, it was heartening to hear from those people who are at the forefront of developing innovative approaches to solve them. The CEAT team look forward to continuing to work with the Crawford Fund, ACIAR, and others to support scientific innovations in this space.