The Australian Government today announces the launch of an agricultural research and development project in partnership with the Swiss-based Syngenta Foundation to mark World Food Day.

This year’s WFD theme is Family Farming – “Feeding the world, caring for the earth” and aims to raise the profile of family farming and smallholder farmers.

The Australia/Swiss project will ensure new crop varieties better meet the needs of African smallholders and their customers.  

There are more than half a billion farmers in the world, 90 per cent of whom are small holder and have the responsibility of feeding half the world’s population.  However, smallhold farmers can lack the basic technology, skills and capacity to provide for their families, let alone communities at large. This is where agricultural research can really assist in producing safe and nutritious food.

Australian funded international agricultural research is aiming to reduce food insecurity and improve smallholder farmer livelihoods. Many of the research technologies, practices and germplasm achieved through this research funding are being directly utilised by Australian farmers

Australia will continue to play a part, and international efforts are showing results.  The latest figures from the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) indicate that global hunger is reducing - down by more than 100 million people over the last decade.

These figures demonstrate that the United Nations Millennium Development Goal - to halve the proportion of undernourished people in developing countries by 2015 - is within reach.

Greater understanding of changing consumer preferences will also help Australian plant breeding programs to better meet market demands with new varieties.

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