We look at the numerous ways that sustainable farming might help solve the expanding food problem, as climate change is one of the most significant elements affecting food security.
The world is witnessing an unprecedented setback in its hunger eradication efforts. The 2020 Global Food Security Index (GFSI), showed that food security is in decline, driven by systemic inequality and the pandemic. Major drivers that are challenging food security in the world are population growth, climate change, pest attacks, and economic slowdowns. Out of all the factors, climate change is one of the greatest threats, and it has already started impacting our ability to accomplish global food security. Issues like increased temperature, extreme rainfall have affected soil fertility, the incidence of pest infestation, and the availability of water which in return have impacted crop yield, the nutritional quality of crops, and livestock productivity.
The 2021 Global Hunger Index has pointed out the challenge of absolute hunger in the future due the climate crisis and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. This could have three major impacts on food consumption and the risk of hunger, including change in crop yields, competition for land between food crops and energy crops, and costs associated with mitigation measures taken to meet the global emissions reduction target.
As a result, there is a disruption in the food supply chain in recent years. Implementation of sustainable practices and policies will help in addressing a bigger challenge of the availability of safe and nutritional food in the future. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), most of APAC’s poor populations live in rural areas and rely on agriculture for their income.
Thus, farmers are at the front line when it comes to the impacts of climate change. They are under overwhelming pressure to make the most of what they have – ensuring that production systems are efficient, environmentally friendly, and above all, effective in optimizing output. Tackling climate change will require a rethink of how we produce and how we consume, but the good news is that there are agriculture solutions available today that can help us address climate change and increase production.
[box type=”info” align=”” class=”” width=””]Sustainable agriculture is the key to the future, and it is imperative that every agriculture-based company focuses on it.[/box]
There are newer technologies which are beneficial environmental profiles, like hybrid seeds and biopesticides, which can help in addressing challenges like water scarcity and climate change, delivering safe, affordable and reliable production for farmers and ultimately nutritious food for consumers, thus ensuring food security. At this point we need a climate-smart agriculture approach that sustainably increases agricultural production, adapts to climate change and reduce emissions.
Bold actions to ensure the implementation of sustainable and climate-smart farming innovations that can increase productivity, resilience, and reduce emissions are the need of the hour.
[box type=”shadow” align=”” class=”” width=””]Circular economy of agriculture: It is an approach to producing food in a way that benefits the environment and creates ecosystem assets that turn agricultural waste into bio-products such as fertilisers & energy. Converting the agri-food waste into new materials instils the principles of reuse, repair, and recycling, that can help local economies by generating a profit and reducing environmental damage. The industry is taking a leading role in solving climate change – moving from a linear model to a circular economy by actively working to shrink its emissions of greenhouse gases.
Precision farming: Precision farming, an integrated crop management system is transforming farming by harnessing the power of GPS, data harvesting, satellite imagery, and other technologies to map and track agricultural efforts. It allows farmers to use crop inputs more efficiently including pesticides, fertilizers, tillage, and irrigation water leading to higher yield and quality. It results in less soil degradation, less pollution, water saving, and hence results in sustainable agriculture and sustainable development. India’s precision farming market was valued at over $ 57 million in 2019 and is anticipated to grow at a CAGR of over 10 percent over subsequent years. It also expands opportunities for skilled employment in the agriculture sector.
Soil management techniques: Sustainable soil management practices like crop rotation, using organic matter, planting cover crops, and reducing tillage help in growing resilient crops and promoting healthy soils. Creating favourable soil conditions for crops helps conserve soil moisture, prevents oxidation of organic carbon, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, and preserves beneficial organisms like earthworms.
Direct Seeded Rice: Direct Seeded Rice (DSR) is a resource-efficient technology that overcomes the limitations of traditional cultivation techniques and improves the productivity and profitability of rice farming. Applying Direct Seeded Rice practices can lead to a 35-37% reduction in water usage in rice farming, better soil health, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions (by 20-30%).[/box]
Enabling farmers to practice sustainable agriculture is the key to global food security. Farmer is the main stakeholder in the process of food security; thus, organizations and governments need to help farmers embrace their role as providers of the global food supply and help them adopt practices that benefit ecology, society, and increase profitability. It is critical to develop appropriate agricultural reforms, incentive systems, and equip farmers with the necessary tools, resources, and economic support to adopt sustainable farming practises, tackle climate change, and ensure food security.
[author title=”Written by” image=”http://”]Gurpreet Bhathal, Marketing Director – Crop protection and seeds – India, Corteva Agriscience[/author]