MEDIA RELEASE: Full review of Australia’s irrigated food supply needed
Posted : Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Calls for a full review of the food supply chain for irrigated
agriculture, to ensure Australia can take advantage of increasing
international food demand, is one of the key recommendations in a
CEDA report being released today.
CEDA Chief Executive, Professor the Hon Stephen Martin said the
final installment in CEDA's Australian Water Project, The
opportunity of crisis: A water reform agenda, includes
key recommendations around agricultural, environmental and urban
"This project is a joint collaboration between CEDA, Harvard
University and Uniwater (a joint venture between the University of
Melbourne and Monash University) and this report provides
recommendations for government to ensure more efficient and
productive water use," he said.
"We are now in a period of relative water abundance and this is
the perfect time to review the lessons of the recent extended
drought, identify policy failures and implement water policy reform
before the next drought begins."
Joint editor of the report and Uniwater, Director, Professor
John Langford said increasing food demand from emerging economies
in Asia presented significant export opportunities for
"That is why a key recommendation of the report is a full review
of the food supply chain, from international markets back to water
supply for crops. This review should include stress testing, by
increasing demand and reducing water availability, and examining
trade policies, transport, storage and water infrastructure to
identify and remedy blockages and constraints," he said.
Professor Langford said the report also makes a number of
recommendations around water management in the Murray-Darling
"More funding is needed for monitoring and evaluation of
environmental water allocations to the Murray-Darling Basin to
measure the condition and response of ecosystems," he said.
"A stronger scientific understanding would provide the ability
to adaptively manage environmental water allocations and provide a
stronger base for policy makers for future adjustments.
"Another key recommendation is that more flexible water delivery
for irrigators and environmental water holders is needed which
would allow water to be delivered on demand, for example timed for
crops to ensure optimum growth.
"River operators should provide a menu of choice for irrigators
and environmental water holders, for example, when, where, how much
and at what flow rate, allowing more productive and innovative use
In addition Professor Langford said the report recommends
enabling counter-cyclical trade in environmental water
On urban water, Professor Langford said the insurance premium
that has historically been embodied in physical water
infrastructure should be quantified to guide future augmentation
and pricing decisions and the report includes a possible model for
calculating this insurance premium.
"This would allow the value of different water sources to be
better priced," he said.
"Previously all urban water customers received the same
reliability of supply. However, if the insurance premium could be
calculated customers could be offered for example a lower insurance
premium - and lower water prices - for accepting water restrictions
earlier or alternatively, pay a high premium and delay having water
restrictions applied," he said.
The opportunity of crisis:
A water reform agenda will be launched at
event in Melbourne on 17 October at
The release of this report follows a draft discussion paper
released in November 2011 Crisis and
opportunity: Lessons of Australian water reform and the recent
release of three additional
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