A new era of regional prosperity lies ahead as young farmers embrace new chemical-free production techniques, according to one of the world’s leaders in organic farming research.
After proving the value of organic production and nutrition of organic foods while working with farmers and supermarket giant Tesco in the United Kingdom, Professor Carlo Leifert is set to open the door to a new future for Australian agriculture as director of the new Centre for Organics Research at Southern Cross University in NSW.
‘‘Australia already has the largest area of organic farming land in the world and with a strong growth in demand for high quality food in both Australia and Asia, there is tremendous potential to grow the organic farming sector here,’’ Prof Leifert said.
‘‘The Centre for Organics Research will look not only at new ways of producing crops and livestock without pesticides, but also improved evaluation of the nutritional value of organic food and a better understanding of the organic food market.
‘‘Anyone who has seen the huge growth in demand for milk powder in China will understand the value that people place on food quality and safety.
‘‘One of the biggest dangers pesticides pose is to farmers themselves, because of the high exposure they have to chemicals while spraying.
‘‘We are hoping that applied research conducted in conjunction with farmers through our centre will help create new organic opportunities for a generation of young farmers who will be prepared to try new science-based methods.’’
The university’s deputy vice-chancellor (research) Professor Susan Nancarrow said the centre would offer specialised courses in organic farming and deliver outcomes that would drive growth of the organic food industry in Australia.
‘‘As the world’s appetite for clean, safe, ethically and sustainably produced food continues to boom and Australia solidifies its reputation internationally for food safety and security, the Centre for Organics Research will become a world-leading facility for all aspects of organics research,’’ Prof Nancarrow said.