Critical that we invest more in food and nutrition security

February 14, 2023

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) is developing a new international development policy to “set the long-term direction for Australia’s international development engagement.”

Related DFAT background noted the new policy will deliver on Australia’s commitment to work in partnership with our neighbours to achieve a peaceful, stable and prosperous Indo-Pacific. It will also see Australia contribute to a global system that can help meet present and future development needs.

The Crawford Fund made a submission to support the preparation of the new international development policy. It focused on the findings of our two major reviews of the benefits accruing to development partners and Australia from Australia’s investment on international agricultural research.

We highlighted that at a time when we are facing the three Cs, climate change, Covid and conflict, it is critical that we invest more in helping developing countries deliver food and nutrition security. We concluded that an increase in the ODA budget devoted to this area is in our view critical if we are going to meet global food security requirements as the population increases to 10 billion by 2050.

Our submission noted the key findings of our commissioned reports were that:

  • Economic returns on investment range between a minimum of $3 to $10 for every dollar invested.
  • Global and Australian investment in the international research centres of CGIAR has seen a return of US$600 billion for an investment of US$60 billion.
  • Investment in international agricultural R&D has enabled us to adequately feed 5 billion more people over the last 60 years, and has reduced the proportion of the hungry and malnourished.
  • Investing in agricultural development has been shown by the World Bank to be the best way to reduce poverty and raise the GDP of the world’s poorest countries.
  • Collaborative research to increase overseas capacity to tackle food and nutritional security and natural resource management also increases Australian scientists’ knowledge and capabilities.
  • Access to new plant varieties through Australian investment in the international research centres has maintained the economic competitiveness of Australian farmers.
  • Australian investment has facilitated the development of sustainable agricultural industries, gender equity, adaptation to pest and disease threats, and helped countries meet UN Sustainable Development Goals.

More details on the process and consultations are provided by DFAT  and the terms of reference are here.

All public submissions are available and those of possible interest were made by:

It is reported that the new development policy will be released ahead of the 2023-24 Federal Budget (May 2023).