It is imperative that Australia remains at the cutting edge of agricultural research, this report argues, so as to maintain regional leverage and to safeguard domestic food security.
The global agricultural research and development market provides opportunities for Australia to assist developing nations whilst boosting domestic food security. Over the next 50 years population growth, climate change and environmental degradation will jeopardise international food security. Agriculture is at the heart of the Australian economy, and is an important bargaining chip in the development of bilateral and regional economic relationships. It is imperative that Australia remains at the cutting edge of agricultural research, so as to maintain regional leverage and to safeguard our domestic food security.
Investment in international agricultural R&D can be lucrative for both public and private investors. Recent trends show a high return on each dollar spent, and wide-reaching spill-over benefits resulting from rural investment.
Currently, Australia produces enough food to feed 60 million people, and contributes indirectly to the food security of 500 million people, through the sharing of knowledge and technology. While variable environmental conditions and resource limitations confine domestic food production growth prospects, there is enormous scope for Australia to assist with international agricultural development.
- Current agricultural practices are failing to nutritiously feed the global population. Research, development and extension (RD&E) in agriculture is essential to ensure the food security of future generations.
- Australia currently contributes to the food security of approximately 500 million people through agricultural research and development programs developed and implemented by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR).
- Returns on public and private investment in international rural development are consistently high.
- Australia’s engagement in international agricultural development is part of a larger effort in economic diplomacy.
- The Australian government could do more to increase private investment in international rural research, to ensure that agricultural partnerships and programs receive appropriate funding in the long term.