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The power of agricultural science to achieve global food security

Updated: May 19, 2023

A high yielding rice trial in Cambodia: Food security rests squarely on the success of agricultural science to help food crops withstand climate pressures. Photo: Brad Collis

Inspiring the next generation of researchers is essential to drive innovation in agricultural science

The most critical factor determining global security is not military build-ups and conflicts such as Russia’s attempted invasion of Ukraine. It is food security – although the two are intrinsically linked. If Russia, for example, does reabsorb Ukraine it becomes the world’s largest producer of grain, controlling up to a third of global supplies. That is power.

The role of food security and specifically the role of agricultural science in achieving this has been the central theme of the Crawford Fund’s ‘Doing Well by Doing Good’ forum series around the country.

The keynote speaker at the forum held last week at the University of Melbourne was ACIAR CEO Professor Andrew Campbell. He pointed out that the extraordinary gains made in recent decades are being eroded by the interlinked impacts of climate change, COVID and conflict.

He said the number of people suffering from a lack of calories and micronutrients is actually growing in all countries. In low to medium-income countries, some 350 million people are facing acute food insecurity. An estimated 50 million are facing starvation.

Farmers in poor countries are also being squeezed by having no capacity to keep up with rising fuel and fertiliser costs.

The only ‘weapon’ the world has to meet this compounding challenge is a step up in agricultural science – at a time when, perversely, world governments (including Australia) are investing less in developing this capacity.

One way the Crawford Fund is responding is to inspire and support the next generation of researchers in agriculture. Agriculture is, in fact, a 21st century science.

Agriculture is, in fact, a 21st century science.

Agriculture embraces almost every research discipline, from advanced biological and environmental sciences to AI and machine learning, and the application of digital technologies limited only by human imagination.

This new era of agricultural science is the foundation on which almost all human progression now stands, in a climate and resources-constrained world.

This challenge and opportunity is central to the vision and mission that created and continues to drive Coretext as a strategic communications provider for science and technology clients – with a core expertise and knowledge base in agriculture.

We’ve been an advocate for the role of agricultural science for many decades, covering Australian and international initiatives, and we look forward to following the Crawford Fund’s ‘Doing Well by Doing Good’ campaign.

Crawford Fund CEO Dr Colin Chartres with Coretext director Brad Collis at the 'Doing Well by Doing Good' forum in Melbourne in May.

More information: The Crawford Fund


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