Charles Sturt University
…this is not a developing world problem, it is a global problem and to address it we need to be interdisciplinary and holistic in our approach, changing not only our practices but also our perspectives and attitudes towards the way food is produced and used.
I found the Crawford Conference both inspiring and confrontational. Studying my undergraduate degree, the challenge of producing food to meet the rising population with constraints on the social, environmental and economic resources was always a focus. However, until the Crawford Conference I had good basic knowledge of these challenges but my understanding of this issue was limited. The perspectives and statistics provided by the keynote speakers prompted me to reassess the way I view agricultural production and what is important on a global scale.
There was a resounding theme that despite recent improvements in some areas, there are still large areas that are threatened by degradation or depletion of natural resources, yet another challenge to the need to produce 70% more food sustainably by 2050. It also hit home that this is not a developing world problem, it is a global problem and to address it we need to be interdisciplinary and holistic in our approach, changing not only our practices but also our perspectives and attitudes towards the way food is produced and used.
Historically, we have separated key issues on a global scale treating energy, food availability, land use, urbanisation and waste management as separate issues. The Crawford Conference has challenged my perspective and I can no longer justify separating them, as it was said “it is no good being full if you are cold and wet, nor is it any good if you are dry and hungry”. The challenge now moving forward is how do we balance our approach to addressing the challenges, so we can maximise the positive effects, being able to meet the needs of the population and mitigate the negative effects of a large population increase.
The issue of food use and reducing waste as one approach to increase food security gave me a new context to continue my PhD research. As the environmental impact of livestock is larger relative to other agricultural industries but the demand for meat and livestock products is increasing, as more people in developing countries become part of the global middle class, what is produced needs to be used efficiently and raises the question of how do we employ the current technologies we have to improve food usage. This gives me a new paradigm of thought in continuing research and approaching food security issues in the future. I have no doubt that as my career as a researcher continues, understanding of the global issues such as this will enable me to make more informed decisions as to where research is required and how best can we develop agricultural industries, through science and policy to ensure they are truly sustainable for the future.