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The Challenge

Photo credit: ILRI

The Australian agri-food sector is well placed to prosper with supportive market and technology drivers, but challenges of resource competition, sustainability and climate change pose significant hurdles.

Australia’s agricultural sector is vulnerable to climate change, through direct and indirectly through consumer and trade pressure for low-carbon products or environmental credentials. Agriculture, can contribute to greenhouse gas emission reductions goals through management of greenhouse gas emissions and sequestration. These are forces that play out in different ways, both nationally and globally, and there is strong demand for science-based responses across all domains.

Many countries in Asia are in transition to middle income status, with the middle class expected to reach 3 billion people by 2030. Markets are both growing and changing, and driving the rapid globalisation of food systems, thus changing Australia’s agricultural relationship with its regional neighbours. In addition to Australian commodity trade with the Asian region, there is potential for significant, mutually beneficial, commercial activity to export agricultural knowledge and services. CSIRO, as well as having a role in developing technologies that can be deployed into agriculture in the region, also, through our reserach program, has a role in building partnerships to catalyse opportunities at the interface of research and business application, and between innovation systems in Australia and in regional partner countries.

The global food system has never been more advanced, yet in 2017 almost 1 billion people were hungry, 2 billion suffered from micronutrient deficiencies, and 2 billion were overweight or obese. The world is looking more broadly at how to achieve healthy and sustainable diets for all.  Agriculture and food systems are increasingly being recognised as key drivers of diet quality and nutrition. Australia’s interests are served by progress on the Sustainable Development Goals, from both economic and humanitarian perspectives. Australia’s agri-food science can contribute to these interests.