World Food Day 2009 – CSIRO is undertaking research designed to increase Australian crop yields. (CSIRO)
World Food Day – CSIRO rising to the challenges
Australian farmers feed over 60 million people a day and CSIRO research aims to maintain and grow this productivity in the face of the significant challenges of greenhouse gas abatement, climate change and land degradation.
"There needs to be another ‘agricultural revolution’ where we see an increase in productivity, but with more efficient water, energy and nutrient use and without sending more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere," says the Director of CSIRO’s Sustainable Agriculture Flagship, Dr Brian Keating.
"While Australian farmers feed over 60 million people every day, Australian science can help feed many more,"
Dr Keating says.
Taking into account population growth, economic development and food consumption growth in developing countries, modest expansion of biofuel production and continuing high levels of food loss and wastage, it has been estimated that world demand for food over the next 50 years will be greater than over the last 500 years.
"CSIRO is approaching the problem from two angles – firstly by helping Australian farmers with more productive crops and innovative management practices and secondly via our international work with developing countries and through international research collaborations.
"Our scientists have a strong track record of innovation – generally working closely with innovative farmers to raise yields, improve water and nutrient use efficiency, improve soil health and balance agricultural production with ecosystem health."
Dr Keating says that, internationally, CSIRO is actively partnering with agencies such as ACIAR and AusAID to ensure the Australian agricultural science knowhow contributes to improved food security in the developing world.
"Australian agricultural science has developed in an environment of natural resource constraints – the skills, approaches and technologies developed here are very relevant to the challenges of developing world agriculture – in particular in Africa which has similar soils and climates to northern Australia."
CSIRO is involved in over 740 international research activities per year, working with leading scientific organisations in more than 80 countries.
"While Australian farmers feed over 60 million people every day, Australian science can help feed many more," Dr Keating says.
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