Australia is a major agricultural exporting nation, consistently ranking in the top ten nations for net agricultural exports. However, a significant proportion of Australia’s agricultural exports comprises non-food items, including wool, cotton, hides and skins, and animal feeds. Australia’s abundant arable land, with over two hectares per person, stands as one of the highest ratios globally, enabling us to provide diverse fresh food year-round.
The potential significance of Australia’s agriculture sector as a future food source for Asian countries remains debatable. Some suggest that Australia could play a major role in food export to the Asia region. However, the sheer scale of increasing populations raises doubts about the extent of Australia’s contribution. Determining precisely how many people Australian agriculture could sustain is complex.
With Australia’s population projected to reach 36 to 48 million by 2060, concerns arise regarding our food security. Can we navigate the challenges posed by climate change, the depletion of natural resources, and competition for land and water use driven by mining and urban expansion?
Australia can feed a larger population than it currently does, but the real issue is how to do this while upholding a healthy, sustainable and fair food system. Ultimately, exporting the knowledge, technology and education that underpin our future food system will benefit far more people than those directly consuming food produced in Australia.
Professor Kadambot Siddique AM FTSE
Hackett Professor, The University of Western Australia
Professor Kadambot Siddique has made outstanding contributions to agriculture in research, education and industry development. His research on the adaptation, physiology, genetics and agronomy of crops has boosted cereal and grain legume production in dryland environments. Professor Siddique’s major contribution to dryland agriculture has been crop yield improvements in grain legumes and wheat, and the release of 13 new grain legume cultivars. His education and research training initiatives span many regions, including Australia, Asia, Africa and the Middle East. These are impacting on the next generation of agricultural scientists and progressive farmers-for the future challenges of food security.
Professor Kadambot Siddique has more than 30 years’ experience in agricultural research, research training and management in Australia and overseas. He has a national and international reputation in various aspects of agricultural science, including crop physiology, production agronomy, farming systems, genetic resources and breeding, with a focus on wheat, grain legumes (especially chickpea) and oilseed crops. Professor Siddique’s most outstanding achievement has been the promotion and development of agricultural research and education among agricultural stakeholders within Australia and overseas, based on his exceptional leadership in capacity building, constant dedication to training and mentoring, and outstanding research output in his field.
Professor Kadambot Siddique is the 2023 Western Australian Scientist of the Year and the UN FAO Special Ambassador for the International Year of Pulses 2016.