Earlier today, we introduced some of the farmers who will participate in the Global Farmer-to-Farmer Roundtable. Here is what other farmers have to say about the state of global agriculture.
What misperceptions about global agriculture would you most like to correct? Why do you think the misperception exists?
Grant Dyck (Canada): The biggest misconception is around biotechnology. Many activists would have you believe it is harmful to the environment and yet I see it as having a very positive effect on producing crops in a more sustainable way (i.e. more production per acre with less harmful environmental impacts relating to soil, water and energy use).
Roberto Peiretti (Argentina): The greatest misperception about global agriculture is the lack of a proper comprehension of the crucial and so far non-replaceable role that the agricultural global food system plays at producing the food for humanity. Our civilization, as we know it at the present, would not be viable without agriculture. To properly understand the meaning of the previous statement it should have taken into consideration that if hypothetically agriculture would stop its operation today, the global food stock in average would be exhausted in around sixty days.
Next week, farmers from around the world will gather in Des Moines for the Global Farmer-to-Farmer Roundtable, held in conjunction with the Word Food Prize Symposium, hosted by Truth About Trade & Technology (TATT), and sponsored in part by CBI. The farmers will discuss the future of agriculture and how innovations in farming can promote food security around the globe. In preparation for this exciting event, we asked the farmers to share their thoughts on agriculture. Meet a few farmers below and hear their thoughts on food security.
This year, the theme of the World Food Prize Symposium is “take it to the farmer.” How would you describe the role of farmers in feeding the world?
Jose Luis Romeo Martin (Spain): I think Norman Borlaug gave us the correct answer: If you can feed the world you must give the technology and the seeds to the farmers. In many countries in Africa hunger could be solved giving the farmers good seeds and good fertilizers and teaching them the best way to use them. And giving the seeds to the farmers doesn’t solve only hunger. It solves poverty also. In Asia I think the problem is different. There are a lot of people in Asia and they are using all the land they can. And I think the only way to increase the yield is using the new biotech crops.
Giorgio Fidenato (Italy): The role of farmers is analogous to that of other entrepreneurs. Food production is an entrepreneurial activity like any other and must respond to the law of supply and demand. Like all activities it continuously evolves toward the goal of greater efficiency. If the farming sector were left alone and there were a truly free market, innovation in agriculture would be continuous and could certainly solve world hunger.
Camilla Illich (Brazil): Data from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) show that by the year 2050, the world will have around 10 billion people, in other words, from the current situation there would be 4 billion-plus people to feed. Compounding the problem of feeding the world, emerging countries like Brazil have been reducing the number of farmers who have the responsibility to feed urban populations. Given this reality, the focus of the farmers in agriculture is to promote high productivity, or yield average (plant and animal), with help of technology and biotechnology. Farmers are one of the most important players in feeding the world.
A new book warns that we will experience a global famine in the next century without investment in agricultural technologies, and a Chicago Council on Global Affairs fellow shares that progress has been made towards an African agricultural revolution.
New book describes argues for increased investment in agricultural technologies
A new book by Australian journalist Julian Cribb titled The Coming Famine lays out the global challenges that will contribute to a global famine, particularly the lack of fresh water, arable farmland, and fossil fuels. The book provides some solutions to preempt a global food shortage. The author argues that investment in agricultural research (including agricultural technologies) must increase dramatically in order to produce enough food to sustain the growing population and avert food shortages this century. Read more.
Technology will help promote a food secure Africa
African leaders are finally speaking out about the need for an agricultural revolution says Roger Thurow, Senior Fellow for Global Agriculture and Food Policy at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, in a piece in The Globe & Mail . Thurow writes, “the way to an agricultural revolution in Africa has long been clear: promote research, put the latest technology in the hands of the farmers and boost investment in rural infrastructure.” Read more.
What we can learn from the March to Restore Sanity
Inspired by Jon Stewart’s March to Restore Sanity, NPR correspondent Adam Frank writes that the call for sanity and reason should extend to science, including genetic engineering. Sound science and evidence should be driving civil discourse, not extremism. He writes, “The point is not to have your views summed up in a single sentence but to remain open to evidence and argument.” Read more.