According to Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, nations around the world must act now if we’re to meet the anticipated growth in food demand worldwide.
Mr Joyce led the Australian delegation at the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) Ministerial Conference in Rome in early July 2017, addressing an international audience on meeting global food demand.
Minister Joyce, the first Australian Minister to attend the Conference since 2009, delivered the response to the McDougall Memorial Lecture (honouring Australian economist Frank McDougall, who helped establish the FAO) to an audience of agriculture ministers and senior officials from 194 FAO member nations.
“Global food consumption is set to rise 11 percent per person by 2050 – the world will consume more in the next 50 years than we have in the whole of human history,” Minister Joyce noted in his address. “Growth in global food demand alone will require a 75 percent increase in global food production by 2050 compared with 2007 levels.
Minister Joyce’s address emphasised the important role farmers will play in meeting the challenge of sustaining 10 billion people within the next 33 years.
“Farmers feed and clothe people – there is nothing more honourable and noble,” he said.
Four areas key to meeting the global food security challenge
“My message to the FAO centred on four areas to meet this challenge: driving better returns for farmers, infrastructure, innovation and trade,” said Minister Joyce.
Regarding better returns, he said: “There needs to be a monetary incentive for people to go on to and stay on the land – no-one is going to produce what is required unless they get a fair return through the farm gate.”
Re infrastructure: “There is no way to meet growing global food demand if produce cannot make it to local and international markets.”
Re innovation: “Adaption, change and innovation will drive the future – we must take science out of the lab and put it in the hands of farmers, and look for game-changers.”
And regarding trade, he noted: “Australia remains a staunch supporter of the multilateral trading system, a system with great potential to do more for farmers all over the world, and for global food security.”
Minister Joyce was optimistic about Australia’s capacity to expand its agricultural productivity to help meet growing global food demand.
“Australia is well on our way to what others thought was an impossible target – doubling the value of agricultural production in our nation,” he contended. “We are about one-third of the way there."
He stressed, however, that to meet the world's food target by 2050, nations would need to back their agricultural sectors.
“We have to start dealing with global food demand now,” Minister Joyce asserted. “Our task is to support our farmers as they rise to meet that challenge and continue to improve the lives of billions of people by putting food on their tables, clothes on their backs, and by generating income and employment that invigorates entire communities.
“If we are serious about meeting global food demand – and I believe that there is no other viable alternative before us – we have to back our farmers.”
To hear Minister Joyce’s FAO full address, click here.
More about the FAO
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), established in 1945, is the only global body dealing exclusively with issues relating to food and agriculture, including fisheries and forestry. The FAO provides a forum for member nations to discuss policy matters of international importance, and provides advice to countries wishing to develop their agriculture sectors. Australia is a founding member of the FAO (since 1945).
The FAO Conference, the organisation’s peak governing body, meets biennially. It is responsible for approving the FAO’s next two-year program of work and budget, as well as all governance, policy, administration and financial matters for the organisation.