As the President of the Australian Council of Deans of Agriculture (ACDA), I welcome you to our website. The ACDA was formed to provide a point of contact for University agriculture in Australia. The Council provides a forum for discussion amongst our Members, enables us to work together on projects where our common interest is served and provides a unified voice to government and other stakeholders.
In the 21st Century, the world faces many challenges. Food supply and food security have been taken for granted for more than a generation yet more than 800 million people have food insufficiency. Conflicts globally often centre around scarce resources such as land and water and these are becoming scarcer. Over the next 20 to 30 years food production will have to increase by more than 50% to meet the needs of an ever-increasing world population. Such food will need to be produced from approximately the same or fewer hectares and under the influence of climate change.
Over the foreseeable future, attracting enough, well-trained professionals into employment across the agriculture value chain will continue to be a major challenge. Whereas the universities are doing what they can to address this challenge, it behoves the industry players to play their part in career promotion, image projection, workplace diversity, respect and safety. They will need also to invest in education and training in order to improve the supply of personnel into their industries.
Over the last 15 years, Australian universities have become the major providers of agricultural R&D, often in collaboration with other providers such as CSIRO and State Government Departments. For universities the present and future challenges are at least three-fold:
- Australia's funding environment must become better aligned with the requirements of the agri-food sector for long-term, strategic and interdisciplinary research that our universities can provide. Although it is widely acknowledged that such research provides the best chance for transformational outcomes in the rural sector, resource acquisition for such work remains problematic with no obvious funding mechanism. Yet, it is this type of research on which the long-term success of Australia's agriculture will depend.
- Our Universities need to educate the next generation of agricultural leaders. We need to provide courses of study that meet the needs of the sector and thus provide the expertise and skills in agriculture graduates equipped with the leading edge of the sciences, technologies and management.
- Our responsibility is also to provide the next generation of scientists to underpin the development of agriculture and build upon the quality of investigation established by the previous generations of scientists. We need to continue to make a substantial contribution to the research effort in our collaboration with research funding authorities and governments as well as with our Members.
The Members of ACDA welcome any enquiries from prospective students, agribusiness, government agencies and others who share our interests in improving the agricultural sector as well as the excitement of being involved with the very great challenges of feeding the planet and protecting the environment.