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Horizons '08 - Agriculture's Future: Value Or Volume

Increasing world agricultural productivity will be one of the main themes at the 2008 Horizons in Livestock Conference in Christchurch, New Zealand. Credit: CSIRO.
by Staff Writers
Canberra, Australia (SPX) Oct 10, 2008
Australasia's major science and agribusiness conference, being held in Christchurch, New Zealand, from 28-30 October 2008, is expected to generate strong debate on the future for Trans-Tasman animal industries, in light of increasing global concern about food security.

The fifth in the Horizons in Livestock Sciences conference series will be hosted by Australia's CSIRO Livestock industries and New Zealand's largest Crown research Institute, AgResearch. The conference will address the increasingly contentious issue of; 'The future of agriculture: Value or Volume?'

According to CLI Chief Alan Bell, if the world is to maintain the same effective level of food supply in 2050 as there was in 2000, there will need to be a 50 per cent improvement in the world's agricultural productivity.

"While this doesn't seem like such a big ask, given that there has been a 400 per cent increase in food produced per hectare over the last 100 years, there are several complicating factors that will make this achievement much more challenging than it might appear," he says.

"One factor will be the stress that all human activity, including agriculture, puts on the environment. We must not only increase the volume of agricultural production to feed the world's human population but we must also do it in ways that substantially reduces the impact of agriculture on our environment.

"At the same time, if agriculture is to continue to make a significant contribution to Australian and New Zealand economies, we need to also produce food and textile products for which wealthy customers around the world are willing to pay premium prices."

Dr Bell says there is an argument that sustainably high returns can only be generated from products that are particularly valuable to customers, incorporate elements that are scarce and have attributes that are difficult for competitors to imitate.

"While some of our current agricultural products have these characteristics, many do not and there are calls for transition to producing higher-value foods and textiles than we do at present," he says.

"Our conference will attempt to address the key question: Should our agricultural sectors' future emphasis be on value or on volume?"

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China more than triples figure for children hospitalised over milk
Beijing (AFP) Oct 9, 2008
China said it understood the global concern over its food exports Thursday, as the official tally of children hospitalised after drinking tainted milk more than tripled to nearly 47,000.

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