Tag Archives: food

Predicting fire, flood, and food shortages

In lands ‘of droughts and flooding rains,’ predicting the weather means saving both lives and livelihoods. The work of Indonesian and Australian scientists, which began with a visit to Jakarta in 1981 by climate scientist Professor Neville Nicholls, has given the countries the ability to forecast rain in the dry season, and during the lead up to the wet season. This means the fires, haze, and food shortages that often go hand in hand with droughts can be predicted—and planned for. Continue reading Predicting fire, flood, and food shortages

Fishing for food security

Local fishermen in Indonesia are catching less fish. Whatever the reason, it is a significant problem for those who live on small islands in particular, as fish make up about 90 per cent of the protein they eat. A team of Indonesian and Australian social scientists is looking at how communities adapt to these changes. Initially, in a pilot project study financed by the Australia Indonesia Centre, the researchers are examining whether there is a link between fishing productivity and feelings of food insecurity in the small islands off Kai Kecil, and if so, whether a weakening of local management of fish populations and a rise in intercommunity conflicts over fish resources play a role. Continue reading Fishing for food security

Fishing for food security

Local fishermen in Indonesia are catching less fish. Whatever the reason, it is a significant problem for those who live on small islands in particular, as fish make up about 90 per cent of the protein they eat.
A team of Indonesian and Australian social scientists is looking at how communities adapt to these changes.
 
Scientists are investigating whether there's a link between fishing productivity and feelings of food insecurity in the small islands off Kai Kecil. Credit: Australia Indonesia Centre
Scientists are investigating whether there's a link between fishing productivity and feelings of food insecurity in the small islands off Kai Kecil. Credit: Australia Indonesia Centre
Initially, in a pilot project study financed by the Australia Indonesia Centre, the researchers are examining whether there is a link between fishing productivity and feelings of food insecurity in the small islands off Kai Kecil, and if so, whether a weakening of local management of fish populations and a rise in intercommunity conflicts over fish resources play a role. The researchers are also studying how individuals cope with food insecurity, and attitudes to alternative ways of making a living. “There are a lot of small islands in the world,” says project coordinator Dr Budy Resosudarmo of the Crawford School of Public Policy at the Australian National University (ANU). “And Indonesia is a good case for this issue. If we can find out how to handle this, maybe we can provide answers to the rest of the world, particularly the islands of the Torres Strait and the Pacific Ocean.” Continue reading Fishing for food security

Granular plant protection

A farmer whose onion paddock is hit by the fungal disease “white rot” faces the loss not only of that crop but of productive use of the field for several years. Relief could be at hand, however, thanks to a novel granulated fungicide now being tested in the field in Victoria.

A new granulated fungicide will help onion farmers treat white rot. Credit: iStockphoto
“In the case of white rot, there is no existing commercially acceptable treatment and if a farmer has an infestation in their field they can’t use it for onions or similar crops for up to 15 years,” says Anthony Flynn, managing director of the agricultural chemical research company Eureka! AgResearch. “They’ve just had to move the crop on to the next paddock.” The new granulated fungicide targets the soil-borne fungus Sclerotium cepivorum. Continue reading Granular plant protection

Stopping parasite means more, safer meat

The world’s meat production could be lifted by 10 to 15 per cent if a vaccine can be found to combat the liver fluke.

Stopping parasite means more, safer meat
Juvenile liver fluke parasites which cause serious disease in livestock and humans. Credit: D Piedrafita (Monash); T Spithill (La Trobe).
This is the aim of a collaborative bioscience group at the new $288 million Centre for AgriBioscience (AgriBio). An effective vaccine against liver fluke could not only boost meat production but would also lead to a large reduction in the amount of drugs given to livestock, says Prof Terry Spithill, who is co-director of AgriBio and based at La Trobe University. Continue reading Stopping parasite means more, safer meat

Building a better banana

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are supporting the efforts of Queensland University of Technology scientists to design a better banana.

James Dale and a better banana palm for Africa. Credit: QUT
James Dale and a better banana palm for Africa. Credit: QUT
The researchers have already added provitamin A—a compound the body converts to Vitamin A—to the East African Highland banana. Now they are working to boost the iron content of the cooking banana that is a staple food of Uganda. Led by Prof James Dale, director of University’s Centre for Tropical Crops and Biocommodities, the researchers are working with the Ugandan National Agricultural Research Organisation to modify the bananas genetically to raise their micronutrient levels, and then develop disease-resistant strains to distribute to East African farmers. The research is being funded by a $10-million grant from Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s Grand Challenges in Global Health Program. James and his team developed efficient technology for raising nutrient levels in Cavendish bananas through to field trials in Queensland and then transferred it to Uganda. Ugandan scientists are now using these methods to modify East African Highland bananas genetically to increase their biosynthesis of provitamin A and their accumulation of iron. Part of the project includes ensuring Ugandans will accept the new fruit, which has deep yellow flesh, thanks to the addition of the Vitamin A precursor, beta-carotene.

How lobsters create their colours

Credit: CSIRO Food Futures Flagship
Credit: CSIRO Food Futures Flagship
A team of Queensland researchers have discovered the genetics that underlies the one molecule that lobsters, prawns and other crustaceans use to make the complex coloured patterns appreciated by biologists and connoisseurs of seafood. The work of Dr Nick Wade and colleagues will help with conservation and aquaculture, and may even lead to a new food colourant. The colour of seafood is directly linked to its acceptability as food. Highly coloured lobsters and prawns attract a premium price. And for the crustaceans themselves, it’s a matter of survival.

Strawberries that pack a flavour punch

Researchers are looking at the genetic and environmental factors that influence the taste of strawberries. Credit: RMIT
Researchers are looking at the genetic and environmental factors that influence the taste of strawberries. Credit: RMIT
Why does the same species of strawberry taste different in different countries? How is it that Californian strawberries are loved by locals but fail to impress Down Under? RMIT University researchers, Assoc. Prof. Eddie Pang and Prof. Phil Marriott, are looking for answers to those questions to help Australian strawberry growers identify which breeds grow best in which region. Continue reading Strawberries that pack a flavour punch

Vaccine hope for shellfish allergies

Researchers are working with prawns in the search for a shellfish allergy vaccine. Credit: RMIT
Researchers are working with prawns in the search for a shellfish allergy vaccine. Credit: RMIT
A new oral vaccine against shellfish allergies is being developed by researchers at RMIT University. Assoc. Prof. Andreas Lopata and his team in RMIT’s School of Applied Sciences are working to help find a different method for vaccination against the potentially deadly allergy. Continue reading Vaccine hope for shellfish allergies

Lake Mungo reveals ancient human adaptation to climate change

Lake Mungo’s ancient landscape.
Lake Mungo’s ancient landscape.
Aboriginal Elders from the Traditional Tribal Groups in the Willandra Lakes World Heritage Area are collaborating with researchers to produce the first integrated account of the history of human settlement, landscape evolution and past environmental change for Australia’s foremost ‘Ice Age’ archive. Continue reading Lake Mungo reveals ancient human adaptation to climate change