Empowering all farmers through access to innovation is key to global food security

    16 October 2012

    This year’s World Food Day addresses the importance of smallholder farmers and the critical role they play in achieving global food security.

    Chief Executive Officer of CropLife Australia, Matthew Cossey said today, “Providing all farmers, including smallholder farmers, with access to modern agricultural chemical and biotech crop technology is fundamental to overcoming the challenge of global food security.

    “While access to innovation is crucial for all Australian farmers to maintain international competitiveness, it is equally important in a global context for smallholder farmers to have access to innovation so they can increase production in the regions that need it most. The plant science industry is committed to providing farmers with the latest technology to allow them to produce more while using fewer natural resources.

    “In the face of climate change, depletion of natural resources and diminishing arable land, the world’s farmers face ever increasing challenges. Combined with the expansion of the global population to 9 million by 2050, this means that food production must more than double to avoid truly widespread hunger and malnutrition. Accordingly, farmers need access to innovative tools that improve sustainable production now more than ever.

    “New innovative crop protection products have enabled farmers in developed nations to significantly increase yields through the effective, targeted use of modern agricultural chemistry. Currently 20-40% of food produced around the world is lost to pests, weeds and diseases. Extension of the sustainable use of modern agricultural chemistry to smallholder farmers in developing nations could halve this figure.

    “Agricultural biotechnology has enabled farmers to use less water on their crops, while still increasing production. Agriculture accounts for 71% of global water withdrawal annually and by 2050 around 1.8 billion people will be living in absolute water scarcity. Biotech crops allow the use of no-till farming methods, which ensure soils retain more moisture, improving soil health and aiding water conservation.

    “Drought and salt tolerant biotech crops currently being developed in Australia offer opportunities for further reductions in water use that could have a huge impact on production for smallholder farmers across the globe, including the driest parts of Africa and Asia.

    “For all farmers, whether small or large; in developed and developing nations, maximising sustainable production is the key to global food security. It is the plant science industry’s role to assist the development and use of modern tools and technologies that will help farmers adapt to a changing climate and help produce all the food we need, sustainably.” Mr Cossey concluded.