IN the next 50 years, the world’s farmers will be tasked with producing the same amount of food that all of humanity has consumed up until this point in time.
That mammoth challenge, and the dire consequences of failure, are the motivation behind a $3 million Federal Government grant that will position Murdoch University at the forefront of research into grain crop productivity and disease prevention.
The money, along with a $2 million contribution from the State Government and Murdoch and Curtin Universities, will be used to establish a new South Metropolitan Crop Research Hub.
Making the announcement at Murdoch University on Tuesday, Deputy Primer Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources Barnaby Joyce said it was critically import to secure Earth’s food supply as its population rockets towards 10 billion.
“This innovative project will draw on the specialist research skills from each party to develop new research in crop pathology, plant physiology and genetic improvement,” Mr Joyce said.
“The outcomes of this research will be applied to improve crop productivity and resistance to disease, strengthening the national grain industry and profitability for Australian grain growers.”
Mr Joyce said all options needed to be considered, including genetically modified crops.
“Although it might be politically incorrect, GM is something to look at because we just are not going to be able to crack this equation… it is a mammoth task and we have to use every mechanism at our disposal to do it,” he said.
The new South Metropolitan Crop Research Hub is one of 15 recipients of $15 million in funding through the Grains Industry Infrastructure Grants programme, which is administered by the Grains Research and Development Corporation.
The hub will include up to 18 new glasshouses and 2.8ha of irrigated, netted field plots at Murdoch University.