Oxfam Australia today welcomed Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s announcement of an Australian International Centre for Food Security to share Australia’s expertise in food production with the people of Africa.
Oxfam Australia Director of Public Policy James Ensor said the centre could play an important role in supporting African countries confront the challenge of food security and reduce hunger.
“We have recently seen welcome support from the Australian government to help people caught up in the devastating food crisis in the Horn of Africa, where 13 million people are at risk of starvation,” Mr Ensor said.
“While humanitarian aid remains vitally important, Oxfam has also been calling for greater investment to address the underlying causes of hunger in Africa, and the Australian International Centre for Food Security has the potential to do this.
“One in three people go hungry in Africa not because of a lack of food, but because those who produce food are not receiving investment to fulfill the potential of the land they have.
“The key to making this centre really work is ensuring small scale African farmers, particularly women, have access to support to grow enough food to eat and sell,” Mr Ensor said.
Oxfam Australia also welcomed the Australian International Centre for Food Security’s stated focus on helping African communities adapt to climate change.
“Rising temperatures will cause crop yields to fall, possibly to half of their current levels in some African countries,” Mr Ensor said.
“Oxfam research has shown that child malnutrition levels are already projected to rise to 8 million by 2030 in sub-Saharan Africa, and when we add in the impacts of climate change that figure tragically increases by another million.”
Oxfam has this year launched a new campaign called Grow which raises awareness about the world’s broken food system which sees 1 billion people going hungry every day.
A Grow report released in June found countries in sub-Saharan Africa could experience catastrophic declines in yield of 20–30 per cent by 2080, rising as high as 50 per cent in Sudan and Senegal.
The report also revealed that by 2050, demand for food will rise by 70 per cent yet production is not keeping pace. The growth rate in agricultural yields has almost halved since 1990 and is set to decline to a fraction of one per cent by 2020.
Oxfam Australia Director of Policy James Ensor is available for interview. For more information please contact Oxfam Australia Media Coordinator Sunita Bose on 0407 555 960.