24 February 2014
Victorian Minister for Agriculture and Food Security, Peter Walsh, has delivered the lead international address at a high-level summit in the Middle East on the challenges of meeting global food security in the coming decades.
Speaking at the World Food Security Summit in Dubai as part of the Victorian Government's Super Trade Mission to the Middle East, Mr Walsh said Victoria's investment in the food and fibre sector would significantly enlarge its role in guaranteeing the region's food security.
Mr Walsh said Victoria's natural advantages and its focus on research, market development, infrastructure and freight logistics made it ideally placed to meet unprecedented demand from the Middle East and Asia.
"While food and agribusiness is Victoria's most valuable export sector, we are positioned to play an even greater role in meeting the region's food security requirements in the coming years and decades," Mr Walsh said.
"The Victorian Government is committed to playing a greater role in supplying food to the region and we are doing this in to two key ways.
"We are investing in research and development, in irrigation infrastructure and in our freight and logistics capabilities, with the aim of doubling production by 2030.
"We are also creating opportunities for Victorian businesses and helping them to connect to markets throughout the Middle East, South East Asia and China and, importantly, to meet the specific needs of those markets.”
Mr Walsh told Summit delegates that Victoria was Australia's largest agricultural exporter and the nation's biggest food supplier to the Middle East and North Africa, having exported $1.25 billion of produce to the region in 2012-13.
Mr Walsh said Victoria was ideally positioned to substantially increase production thanks to its temperate climate, soil types, world class food safety and biosecurity systems, modern irrigation infrastructure and cutting edge agricultural science.
The World Food Security Summit was held as part of Gulfood, the world's largest food and hospitality trade fair, and was designed to explore ideas for achieving global food security in the face of rapid population growth and economic development.
Other keynote speakers included: the United Arab Emirates' Assistant Undersecretary for Agriculture Affairs, H.E. Engineer Saif Al-Shara; the Saskatchewan Minister of Agriculture in Canada, Lyle Stewart; and the Argentine Foreign Affairs Minister, Hector Timerman.
The Super Trade Mission to the Middle East, which is being led by Minister for Employment and Trade Louise Asher, comprises more than 100 Victorian companies, including 60 from the food and agribusiness sector.