[ASC-media] Focusing Australia's Agricultural Strengths for Africa

Cathy Reade creade at squirrel.com.au
Fri Oct 28 07:16:33 CEST 2011


The Crawford Fund

Press Release

28 October 2011

 

Focusing Australia's Agricultural Strengths for Africa's Benefit

- New Australian International Centre for Food Security

 

The establishment of the Australian International Centre for Food Security
is an exciting initiative, based on Australia's recognised strengths in
agricultural production, research and education. 

 

This was the response by Dr Denis Blight, Executive Director of the Crawford
Fund, to the CHOGM announcement of the establishment of the Centre as part
of a range of initiatives for food security in Africa. Dr Blight was in
Perth attending a meeting of the Commonwealth Roundtable at which he
stressed the importance of international agricultural research cooperation
as 'aid that works.'

 

"Australia's strength in agriculture and agricultural research has been
forged in tough environmental conditions by resilient farmers and brilliant
scientists," he said.

 

"This new approach further consolidates Australia's credentials in
international agricultural research through the Australian Centre for
International Agricultural Research and most recently through a new suite of
partnerships between African and Australian scientists working on important
food security topics such as improving maize legume farming systems,
combating animal diseases and enhancing the nutritional quality of food. 

 

"These important projects in Africa build on Australia's strengths as an
agricultural research leader and innovator," he said.

 

Dr Blight noted that this announcement comes thirty years after another
CHOGM announcement by Malcolm Fraser in Melbourne, 1981 that led to the
establishment of the now internationally renowned Australian Centre for
International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), which would be leading the
Australian International Centre for Food Security.

 

"Speaking personally, it is a special thrill to see the emergence of an
initiative that builds on the ACIAR idea that had been championed by Sir
John Crawford, in whose honour the Crawford Fund was established. It will
further focus our efforts in Africa and underlines the long-held bipartisan
support for global development through food security, using our technical
and policy expertise," said Dr Blight.

Dr Blight noted that the initiative draws together important threads which
are recurring themes in past and current Crawford Fund policy work. 

 

"The Fund is particularly gratified with the Centre's initial focus on sub
Saharan Africa, an alignment that we recommended in our 2008 Report on World
Food Security - how Australia can help."

 

"The proposed international conference on African food security, to set a
strategic framework and forward work program for the new centre, will need a
team approach with AusAID, ACIAR, Australia's Federal and State research
organizations and universities, and other public and private sector
stakeholders to work with African partners to yield win-win opportunities
for Africa and Australia, and ensure food security for generations to come,"
he said.

 

Dr Gabrielle Persley, leader of the new Crawford Fund research project on "A
wider canvas of emerging issues in international agricultural research," and
Chair of the Doyle Foundation, a Scottish based charity that advocates the
role of science and technology in development and especially in relation to
livestock in Africa, also welcomed the announcement. 

 

-          "Having spent much of the past decade working with the
International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in Africa, I have seen the
benefits of Australia's financial and scientific contribution first hand,
including building new partnerships with young African scientists, such as
those hosted by Biosciences eastern and central Africa, a new shared
research facility hosted by ILRI in Nairobi, ," she said.

Dr Persley noted some examples of important work being conducted by African
scientists and their international partners including:

- New cassava varieties resistant to brown streak disease being developed by
Tanzania and Uganda, where cassava (tapioca) is a major staple crop,
especially important in times of drought. 

- Sweet potato, also a famine relief crop in East Africa and new yellow
fleshed varieties being developed offer enhanced Vitamin A content,
important in the diets of women and children. 

- Improved management for African swine fever, a devastating disease of
village pigs in Africa which are an important source of animal protein and
of cash income for rural communities. 

 

"These are only a few examples of how first class science and scientists in
Africa are making life better for many people living in harsh environments
in the countries of Africa. The new Australian food security centre will be
a welcome addition to both accelerate and expand these efforts", Dr Persley
said. 

 

For further information and to arrange interviews contact: Cathy Reade,
Public Awareness Coordinator, Crawford Fund 0413 575 934 

 

 

Cathy Reade
Coordinator - Public Awareness
Crawford Fund
Ph/Fax: 07 54483095
Mobile: 0413 575 934
 <http://www.crawfordfund.org> www.crawfordfund.org

The Crawford Fund's mission is to increase Australia's engagement in
international agricultural research, development and education for the
benefit of developing countries and Australia.

 

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