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, it is clear that the world faces many challenges. Food supply and food security have been taken for granted for more than a generation. Increasingly some countries are experiencing civil unrest because of food shortages. Other conflicts centre around the contentious use of scares resources such as land or water. Over the next 20 to 30 years food production will have to increase by 50% to meet the needs of an ever increasing world population. Such food will need to be produced from approximately the same number of hectares. Therefore, agriculture will need the best educated and innovative minds involved to meet this challenge.
Over the last 10 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 challenge is at least two-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 exactly 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 science, technology 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. Contact details are provided at this site and we welcome any feedback.