Engaging with Asia to boost food security
Agriculture experts from across Asia and the Pacific are in Perth this week as part of a workshop aimed at developing new crop varieties adaptable to climate change.
The week-long workshop is hosted by the Department of Agriculture and Food. It forms part of the Asia and Pacific Regional Technical Cooperation program organised by the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency and the Food and Agriculture Organisation.
Department Grains Industry executive director Mark Sweetingham said the Asia-Pacific region was a major export market for the Australian grains industry.
“Food security is still a major concern for the rapidly growing Asia-Pacific region and the issue is further exacerbated by climate change and water availability,” Dr Sweetingham said.
“The Australian grains industry faces a similar challenge, with improvements in water use efficiency and drought tolerance being a top priority for the sustainability of the grains industry.
“This workshop will provide an opportunity to collaborate with these countries on agricultural research, education and training.”
The Regional Technical Cooperation program aims to enhance Australia’s capacity to access facilities and techniques to create new crop germplasm which will use water more efficiently.
“Under a changing climate, the lack of suitable crop germplasm is a major limiting factor in developing new resilient breeding material,” Dr Sweetingham said.
“Participants will look at combining the widely-used mutation breeding methods with new molecular marker technology to improve breeding efficiencies.
“In order to make lupins suitable for food and feed use, mutation breeding has created low alkaloid traits which reduce the bitterness and the toxicity.
“Advances similar to this will continue to benefit the Australian lupin industry.
“The workshop will showcase the department’s capacity in the use of advanced molecular sciences to improve crop productivity under unfavourable climate conditions.”