While innovation and new technologies will continue to help our farmers produce more food with fewer inputs, the challenges of a changing climate and diminishing natural resources is limiting their capacity to produce enough food for a growing population.
The once inseparable bonds between our natural resources, the farmers who utilise these resources to produce food and consumers who eat the food have been compromised, with consumers being increasingly disconnected from this equation. To meet the challenges of producing sufficient food into the future, consumers need to be re-engaged and participatory. In short, we need a shared responsibilities approach.
The challenge for enabling a shared responsibilities approach is to rationalise the differing priorities the two key stakeholder groups have: farmers need to make a reasonable living and want to be good stewards of the land while consumers seek local, safe & ethically produced food at an affordable price.
Though they have different priorities, the overarching objective of food security can drive a shared responsibilities approach that generates greater reciprocity (beyond financial transactions) between the stakeholders.
NRM organisations are well placed to support this approach through the development of benchmarking and sustainability indicator tools that producers and consumers can utilise to identify and validate the adoption of sustainability practices in the areas of; food safety, food quality, environmental, social and economic performance.
As consumers become better informed and engaged, the pull-thru impact of their decision making will drive greater market access and/or financial reward for more sustainably produced food and a more secure food future.
Perth NRM is developing the Food Future initiative as a means of enabling this shared responsibilities approach. If you would like more information or to be involved, please contact; Keith.Pekin@perthnrm.com at Perth NRM or visit our new Food Future website