- Published on Wednesday, 05 April 2017 18:15
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Our food system has served us well until now but land use pressures and climate change will make it harder in future.
Cyclone Debbie, which lashed the Queensland coast a week ago, has hit farmers hard in the area around Bowen – a crucial supplier of vegetables to Sydney, Melbourne and much of eastern Australia.
With the Queensland Farmers’ Federation estimating the damage at more than $100m and winter crop losses at 20%, the event looks set to affect the cost and availability of fresh food for millions of Australians. Growers are reportedly forecasting a price spike in May, when the damaged crops were scheduled to have arrived on shelves.
Fresh food for growing cities
Australia’s cities are growing rapidly, along with those of many other countries. The United Nations has predicted that, by 2050, 87% of the world’s population will live in cities. This urban expansion is putting ever more pressure on peri-urban food bowls.
Food production is also under pressure from climate change, raising the risk of future food shocks and price spikes after disasters such as cyclones. Meanwhile, the desire for semi-rural lifestyles is also conflicting with the use of land for farming (see Sydney’s Food Futures and Foodprint Melbourne for more).
These pressures mean that Australia’s cities need to make their food systems more resilient, so that they can withstand food shocks more easily and recover more quickly.