The Murray-Darling river basin supports almost half of Australia's food production, sustaining a $20bn-per-year trade in agricultural products to Asia and the Middle East.
But now, after decades of poor water management and drought, Australia's farming heartland is drying up - plunging its industries deep into crisis as the country edges closer to the brink of an unprecedented national catastrophe.
Food security has become an urgent issue and authorities are becoming alarmed at the threat to the nation's food supply.
On this edition of 101 East, we look at the crisis devastating Australia's largest river system and threatening its food bowl.
This episode of 101 East airs from Thursday, June 3, 2010 at the following times GMT: Thursday: 1230; Friday: 0300; Saturday: 0530, 1730; Sunday: 1130; Monday: 1630; Tuesday: 1430; Wednesday: 0830; Thursday: 0630.
Source: Al Jazeera