Food for thought

Water 4 Food finds ally in for­mer deputy PM

Southern Riverina news - - News -

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.’’

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