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Australia boosts food security commitment to Africa

October 9, 2012

Women sell their produce at a market in Lilongwe, Malawi to generate income for their families. Australia is using its expertise and experience to help improve food security in African countries (Photograph: Stephen Morrison/Africa Practice for AusAID)

I had the honour of delivering the opening address at The Crawford Fund Annual Parliamentary Conference in Canberra this morning. The Crawford Fund is a non-profit, non-government organisation dedicated to international agricultural research.

In my speech I announced the Australian International Food Security Centre (AIFSC) has established its first office in Africa – in Nairobi, Kenya.

The new Centre is going to help Africans go from a reliance on emergency food aid to building a viable, smallholder farming sector.

With a majority of smallholder farmers being women, this work will focus on them.

The AIFSC will deliver research projects across eight countries in the south-eastern Africa region – Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. The projects are smart, simple and geared toward the long-term improvement of food security and reduction of poverty. Research includes:

• trees for food security;
• identifying socioeconomic constraints to and incentives for faster technology adoption;
• the use of small-scale machines to intensify food production;
• peri-urban, urban and rural vegetable-based farming;
• the use of stored (‘blue’) water in food production; and
• strengthening and integrating farming of family poultry and crops.

Addressing The Crawford Fund Annual Parliamentary Conference in Canberra on October 9, 2012

Since 2010 Australia has provided more than half a billion dollars to further food security in Africa. The Centre will ensure we are also sharing our valuable agricultural expertise.

The Centre was announced at CHOGM in October 2011, to lead Australian engagement in the area of food security, focusing initially on Africa. It operates as part of the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research.

Australia is hosting an international food security forum, Food Security across Africa – Bridging Research and Practice in Sydney in November. The forum will bring together key African, Australian and international representatives to engage on the Centre’s strategy to improve food security across Africa.

Read my full speech to The Crawford Fund here.

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