Understanding global agriculture to improve local agriculture

Wednesday, 05 March, 2014

The key to Brazil’s competitive agricultural sector has been revealed at ABARES Outlook 2014. Since the 1990s, the country’s farmland dedicated to producing grains has increased by 46%, but its grain production has grown by a staggering 300%.

“Brazil has saved more than 68 million hectares of arable land in the area of grain production because of better farming practices, such as better application of biotechnologies, nanotechnologies and low carbon agriculture,” Bayer Crop Science Brazil’s Mariele Pickler told delegates.

“Almost every challenge facing Australian agriculture - from better infrastructure to greater productivity - stems from the changing face of global agriculture,” ABARES Executive Director Karen Schneider added.

“It’s essential to understand the global context of Australian agriculture, because our response to changing demand and rising competition would define future success.”

Speakers in the conference’s global focus session spoke around the theme of improving the competitiveness of domestic agriculture sectors through reduced regulatory burdens and better supply chain infrastructure.

Rabobank Executive Board Member Berry Martin warned delegates that another GFC could be on the way: a global food crisis.

“We need to understand the increase in world food demand projected over the next 35 years will be driven by income as well as population. The world can expect an increase in global incomes of over 180% by 2050,” Martin said.

“The biggest growth in income and GDP will come in Asia. Meanwhile, half the world’s population lives on a quarter of the world’s arable land - while the amount of land available to farming is continuing to decrease.

“It’s clear there are major opportunities for Australia here.”

Tassos Haniotis, director of economic analysis at the European Commission, explained the challenges of EU Common Agriculture Policy.

“Supply concerns in the EU - in particular productivity, the impacts of changing climates and terms of trade - are common to agriculture production in many parts of the world,” Haniotis said.

“The goals of EU reform include enhanced competitiveness through better market orientation and a more effective food supply chain and improved sustainability, in part through better research and development.”

ABARES 2014 was held over 4 and 5 March in Canberra.

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