Big wet high­lights our food se­cu­rity’s vul­ner­a­bil­ity

The Northern Star - Northern New South Wales Rural Weekly - - Find A - PAT HAN­NAN Grow­com CEO

EAR­LIER this month Queens­land fruit and veg­etable grow­ers were deal­ing with the con­se­quences of a glut. The bumper sea­son had flooded the mar­ket with high qual­ity pro­duce but was de­liv­er­ing min­i­mal re­turn for grow­ers.

How­ever, re­cent weather events in the Wide Bay and North Burnett grow­ing re­gions have turned the sit­u­a­tion on its head and many Queens­land veg­etable crops are in short sup­ply.

The sud­den turnaround high­lights the volatil­ity of the fruit and veg­etable busi­ness with grow­ers at the mercy of a sup­ply and de­mand driven mar­ket­place. Weather events have an enor­mous im­pact on the sup­ply of fruit and veg­eta­bles re­in­forc­ing the need to re­main vig­i­lant about food se­cu­rity in an un­pre­dictable cli­mate.

Food se­cu­rity is de­fined as: “All peo­ple, at all times, have phys­i­cal, so­cial and eco­nomic ac­cess to suf­fi­cient, safe and nu­tri­tious food that meets their di­etary needs and food pref­er­ences for an ac­tive and healthy life”.

Al­though Aus­tralia main­tains its rank­ing as one of the world’s most food se­cure na­tions, threats to this re­main ever-present and real.

When nat­u­ral re­sources and re­silience is fac­tored in, Aus­tralia’s base­line rank­ing of 5th in the world for food se­cu­rity tum­bles down the rank­ings to an ad­justed 14th.

This should be alarm­ing but not sur­pris­ing to Queens­land grow­ers who rou­tinely ride the roller-coaster of chang­ing sea­sons and weather events.

The food se­cu­rity in­dex is de­signed to be a wake-up call for gov­ern­ments to crit­i­cally as­sess and ad­dress how they can pro­vide their cit­i­zens with qual­ity food. Quite clearly, Aus­tralia’s ma­jor weak­ness lies within its sus­cep­ti­bil­ity to nat­u­ral dis­as­ters which needs to be ad­dressed. Al­though the re­cent weather events have not di­rectly chal­lenged our na­tional food se­cu­rity, they have once again brought the is­sue to the front of our minds.

Pro­tect­ing Queens­land’s fruit and veg­etable pro­duc­tion must be a govern­ment pri­or­ity by ad­dress­ing our na­tional weak­nesses, nat­u­ral dis­as­ter pre­pared­ness and ac­cess to nat­u­ral re­sources.

PHOTO: FILE

Grow­com says it’s im­por­tant the govern­ment works on a na­tional food se­cu­rity plan.

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