Rome – The need for innovative approaches to agriculture that make crop production efficient & resilient to shocks & disruptions came under the spotlight today at the opening of the first Global Conference on Sustainable Plant Production organized by the Food & Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
Under the theme Innovation, Efficiency & Resilience, the hybrid event held at the FAO headquarters will focus on how to produce more food, sustainably, with less of an environmental impact & ways in which to strengthen local & diversified agrifood systems.
The conference which runs from November 2-4, comes at a time when global demand for food, feed, fuel & fibre is increasing, with estimates that the world will need 50 percent more food by 2050 to feed the increasing global population. Currently some 828 million people face hunger & a third of the world’s population – 2.3 billion people – do not have access to adequate food.
In his opening remarks, FAO Director-General QU Dongyu called for the need to speed up action in addressing these issues.
“Current agricultural practices are unsustainable. Investment is urgently needed. They are putting pressure on the environment & on our finite natural resources, including biodiversity, land & water,” he said, noting how land conversion from natural ecosystems to agriculture is contributing extensively to deforestation, biodiversity loss & greenhouse gas emissions, this in a context where the threats from plant pests & diseases is increasing & is compounded by the effects of the climate crisis.
“We cannot continue ‘business as usual’ – we need to get on a technology driven sustainable track. That’s the only solution. Tomorrow’s agriculture will need to produce more food with a lower environmental footprint – this means producing more with less. & also, we need to produce more diversity & more quantity in situ,” Qu said.
“Science based sustainable plant production can enable this,” he added.
The FAO Director-General underscored the role of farmers, whose needs, knowledge & constraints “must be at the core” of efforts to adopt sustainable agricultural practices.
He outlined five ways in which to address these global challenges:
- Implement solutions that are accessible & can be locally adapted;
- Establish strong local & diversified agrifood systems that are more resilient to shocks & disruptions;
- Harness the potential of agricultural innovation to create efficient plant production systems;
- The need to be inclusive, taking into consideration the needs of all, including the most vulnerable groups, rural women, youth & Indigenous Peoples;
- Keep international trade open & functional
The Conference brings together FAO Members, farmers, scientists, development agencies, policy makers, civil society & private sector representatives to discuss farmer-centric agricultural practices that produce more while considering ways to mitigate the impact of climate change & geopolitical disruptions among other issues.
Discussions will focus on ways in which to achieve food security by using the right seeds, diverse & adaptable food cropping systems & efficient management of natural resources. Pest management, & mechanization & digitalization will also feature in the sessions.
This conference aims to raise awareness about the contribution of sustainable plant production to attain the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals at the regional & national levels & demonstrate ways in which FAO can lead members in this direction.
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