Leading the way in food security
Playing an important role in the future of the world’s food security, UQ is a global leader in northern agriculture and food research. As one of the few research-intensive universities in the world located in a subtropical environment, the University is well positioned to undertake agriculture and forestry research. According to the highly regarded QS World University Rankings by Subject 2014, UQ’s agriculture and forestry research is ranked 18th in the world – making it the top university in Australia in this field.
Recently, UQ has undertaken a significant leadership role in the long-running, highly successful Queensland Government sorghum breeding program.
Funded by the Grains Research Development Corporation, the program contributes to a pool of commercial cultivars available in Australia, the United States, Europe and South America. Researchers from UQ’s Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation (QAAFI) are working alongside the Queensland Government’s Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, and the Ethiopian Government to improve the drought tolerance of sorghum and enhance breeding capacity in sub-Saharan Africa. The researchers have received a $4 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to support their aims. Sorghum is an important cereal and a staple food crop for millions of people living in semi-arid tropics.
Africa, like Queensland, is in need of improved drought-resistant crops and projects aimed at sustainable food production. As well as striving to alleviate hunger in sub-Saharan Africa and contribute to the future food security of the continent, the research is hoped to stimulate Queensland’s sorghum industry and contribute to the state’s economy and prosperity of rural communities. Sorghum’s capacity to tolerate drought, high temperatures and low fertility make it a preferred crop to maize. Not only are advances in breeding, physiology and bioinformatics increasing researchers’ understanding of sorghum, but growers are also able to see tangible results.