Food for thought
Water 4 Food finds ally in former deputy PM
The Riverina has a vital role to play in the world’s biggest ongoing issue, according to former deputy prime minister Tim Fischer.
Mr Fischer, who recently retired as Ambassador to the Vatican and was guest speaker at the Edward River Country Education Fund dinner in Deniliquin on Friday night, said food security and world hunger was now a bigger issue than climate change.
Mr Fischer’s sentiments have been echoed by Jerilderie Shire Mayor and Water 4 food chairman Terry Hogan (pictured), who said the link between water and food production was still lost on too many people.
Predictions are that the world’s population will grow to between nine and 10 billion people by 2050.
But with continual plans to remove water from productive use to protect the environment, like the pending Murray-darling Basin Plan, Cr Hogan said many of those people will be forced to go hungry.
‘‘I keep hammering home the fact that of the seven billion people on the planet today, well over one billion of them cry themselves to sleep without enough food in their bellies,’’ he said.
‘‘In Australia we seem to have a ‘She’s right Jack’ type of attitude. We don’t seem prepared to play a role on the world stage to feed those people, even though we are in a country which produces some of the best and cleanest food in the world.
‘‘We need to get the focus back on food production and food security.
‘‘They say the basin plan is for the environment, but where is the 50 to 100 year plan for food production? Isn’t it just as important?
‘‘I think it is, but the message is not reverberating in Canberra.’’
Cr Hogan said the predicted food shortage is ‘‘a bigger issue than climate change itself’’, and said the answer to changing it could be with the younger generation.
‘‘One of my main concerns of the basin plan is the so-called need to put water through the rivers and let it run out to sea,’’ he said.
‘‘We need people to understand that it takes a huge quantity of water to produce food and we need to show that to the decision makers of the future - the next generation.’’
Water 4 food was developed by the Riverina and Murray Regional Organisation of Councils in 2009, at the height of the drought, in an effort to highlight the importance of water in producing food for the world.
It also coincided with Federal Government plans to remove water from the Riverina for environmental purposes.
Cr Hogan said the group is in the process of developing educational kits, in conjunction with the Murray-darling Association, for school children.
Cr Hogan said a series of DVDS is being created on the importance of water in food production, which he said would start with explaining the water cycle.
Cr Hogan said the ultimate goal of the campaign is to also challenge the thinking of politicians and the wider national community.
But he said the potential outcome of the pending Murray-darling Basin Plan and rhetoric out of the cities shows the message is still not sinking in.
‘‘The tsunami coming at us is a food shortage on the planet,’’ Cr Hogan said.
‘‘We need more Tim Fischers to be standing up and spreading this message.
‘‘Mankind cannot live without food.
‘‘What out city cousins don’t realise is that it takes a serious amount of water to deliver the bread, the milk, the fresh produce they go to the store for.
‘‘And they need to be aware that sending water down the rivers and out to sea is going to impact on availability and price.’’