A full review of the country’s irrigated food supply is needed to ensure the country can take full advantage of increasing international food demand, according to a report released by the Committee for the Economic Development of Australia (CEDA).


 The final installment of CEDA’s Australian Water Project, The opportunity of crisis: A water reform agenda, includes a number of key reform recommendations around agrilctural, environmental and urban water use.


"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,” CEDA’s Chief Executive Stephen Martin said.


Joint editor of the report and Uniwater, Director, John Langford said increasing food demand from emerging economies in Asia presented significant export opportunities for Australia.


"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," Professor Langford 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 of water."


In addition Professor Langford said the report recommends enabling counter-cyclical trade in environmental water holdings.