Experts gather to discuss food security as the banks close in on control of food and water
Experts are gathering in Brisbane to discuss how to feed the world’s burgeoning population, amid forecasts food prices could double within 10 years. A public forum on food security will be held on Tuesday night as part of a three-day summit on one of the world’s most critical challenges. The event aims to define Australia’s role in feeding the global population, which is expected to swell beyond nine billion by 2050. Agri-food expert Professor Geoffrey Lawrence says food prices will skyrocket by about 50 per cent over the next decade, putting food security at the top of national and international agendas. He says there must be a rethink of how food is grown, sold and eaten, including a new emphasis on reducing food wastage. “Of course if you’re going to have reduced supply or you’re going to have more mouths to feed, the price of food will increase,” says Prof Lawrence, of the Global Change Institute. “The aggregate price of food globally has doubled between 2000 and 2010 in real terms and it looks like food’s going to be about 50 per cent higher over the next decade.” He said Tuesday night’s forum, which is open to the public, is about working out the best ways for Australia to feed its own population while contributing to the world’s pantry. National Farmers Federation president David Crombie, who will also speak at the event, said food production globally was under enormous pressure. “There’s a projected increase in the world population from 6.5 to 9 billion so it’s more mouths to feed, and at the same time we are projected to have reduced water and available land and inputs are going to be expensive,” he says. “So there’s a real squeeze coming on for world food production.” He said Australia’s agricultural sector currently exports about 65 per cent of what it produces. “We feed about 40 million people outside Australia. There is an opportunity for Australia to do more with less, there is an opportunity for Australia to be part of that world solution. “What we need to do is give farmers the tools to get on with the job.” The Global Food Futures Forum, hosted by the Global Change Institute, will be held on Tuesday night at Customs House in Queen Street.