Spotlight On Safe & Sustainable Food Supply

Wednesday, April 11th, 2018 | 680 Views

Regional food safety and security take centre stage as CropLife Asia’s 2018 Annual General Meeting in Singapore hosted plant science industry leaders, which concluded on 28 March 2018.

Croplife Asia’s Annual General Meeting was conducted in March 2018 in Singapore—bringing together leaders in the plant science industry and a host of food value chain stakeholders. This annual event provides a platform for agricultural sector experts to share insights around the topic of how best to ensure a safe and sustainable food supply in Asia as well as global and regional best practices.

By 2050, the global population is projected to rise to around 10 billion. Ensuring a sustainable supply of food that is safe and nutritious is one of the greatest challenges the world faces. This challenge is particularly pronounced within Southeast Asia where critical factors suggest a deteriorating landscape.

In 2017, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO)—a specialised agency of the United Nations—released findings that food security conditions had worsened in more vulnerable parts of the world—including Southeast Asia and West Asia. Also contained in the FAO data were troubling statistics that the number of undernourished people globally increasing—up from 777 million in 2015 to 815 million in 2016.

“With food insecurity on the rise in Asia, ensuring a sustainable supply of safe and nutritious food in our region is critically important,” said Tina Lawton, president of Croplife Asia. “The plant science industry of Asia remains steadfast in its support of our region’s farmers to grow more food, and to ensuring our technology is used responsibly in that pursuit.”

Asia is home to the smallest-sized farms and the largest number of smallholder farmers globally. It’s estimated that 85 percent of the world’s 525 million smallholder farmers live and work within the continent—around 100 million in Southeast Asia alone. With fewer resources and more unique challenges to mitigate, such as access to technology, landholder rights, finance availability, and climate change, smallholder farmers in the region face a daunting task.

“The challenge of feeding a growing population calls for a shared solution among food and agriculture stakeholders that ensure success, sustainability and good stewardship,” added Dr Siang Hee, executive director of Croplife Asia.

The advancements of Asia’s plant science industry are providing invaluable tools for the region’s smallholder farmer toolbox. These technologies better enable farmers to sustainably increase their yields, use fewer resources, and minimise the impact on our environment.

Without crop protection products, almost 50 percent of the world’s food would be lost to pests and disease. The protection these advanced pesticides provide is not limited to the field—they also help to prolong the viable life and prevent post-harvest losses of these crops while in storage. With arable land being converted for other uses, crop protection products help farmers to grow more food on less land.

Meanwhile, biotech crops are helping to increase crop productivity, conserve biodiversity and increase farmer incomes. The technology has also helped slow the advance of climate change by reducing carbon emissions. In 2015 alone, it is estimated that biotech crop planting lowered carbon dioxide emissions by 26.7 billion kg—equivalent to removing around 12 million cars from the road for an entire year.

Farmer income gains from 1996-2015 generated globally by biotech crops amounted to about 167.8 billion.