Scarcity highlights need for food and water allocation

CHANCE TO ACT: Murrami irrigator Tanya Ginns said Australia could secure its food supply by delivering extra water to MIA irrigators. PHOTO: Contributed
CHANCE TO ACT: Murrami irrigator Tanya Ginns said Australia could secure its food supply by delivering extra water to MIA irrigators. PHOTO: Contributed

THE COVID-19 pandemic has seen Australians stockpile everything from toilet paper to hand sanitiser.

Now, calls are being made to introduce food and water allocations as they, too, become a rare commodity.

Water must be provided to farmers in purpose-built irrigation areas, as they currently account for 60 percent of our nation's food.

President of Ricegrowers' Association of Australia, Rob Massina, believes there are difficult times ahead.

"Coupled with all that we have going on in the world right now, we're also still in drought," Mr Massina said.

"We're looking at our second lowest production year for rice ever, and it was only slightly better last year.

The supply of Australian rice has been short and what we're seeing now with the uncertain times in the world is a spike in demand globally."

Helen Dalton, SFF Murray MP, weighed in on the debate by citing her previous call for such changes.

"The lack of rice on our supermarket shelves this week is a dire warning," Ms Dalton said.

"We are facing an uncertain 18 months of restricted trade and travel.

"We need to be producing rice, dairy, wheat and other food staples here in Australia, and not relying on unstable imports from foreign countries in lockdown."

As bans begin to take hold of numerous international export markets, the already overwhelmed Ricegrowers' Association of Australia are further feeling the pinch.

"It puts pressure on the supply chain, and pressure on bringing quality overseas rice into the domestic market here," Mr Massina explained.

"Australian rice is very well-sought after, in terms of quality and how it's grown, so people around the world pay a premium for our rice.

"Sadly at the moment, we haven't got the ability to put our own rice onto our own supermarket shelves."

MP Helen Dalton says simple rule changes from the NSW Government can provide farmers with a water allocation this season.

This story 'Give us the water': shortages highlight need for allocation first appeared on The Area News.