Choices on the farm
The challenge of the 21st century is clear: to feed the world’s growing population while safeguarding our natural resources in the process. We have a long way to go considering one billion people are undernourished today.
To meet this challenge, the world’s farmers need to nearly double crop production in the next 40 years.
Syngenta is confident that farmers can feed the world with the support of governments, international organizations and industry. However, they must have access to the best technologies to manage limited natural resources and increase productivity.
Success depends on creating policies guided by science that develop and accept innovative agricultural solutions. But we cannot stop there. The technologies must be implemented on the farm. This may require building infrastructure for education, access to markets, insurance and financial support.
Many smallholder farmers throughout the world remain poor and hungry. This includes about 450 million farms of two hectares or less supporting over 2 billion people.
These farmers can greatly benefit from agricultural technology, extension services and markets. Agricultural investment strategies centered on smallholders are key to poverty reduction and increased food security. The process involves a structural transformation where agriculture (through higher productivity) provides food, labor and savings that foster food security.
Technology for greater yields
Today’s technologies unlock the potential of plants to help farmers grow more using less water and land.
Insecticides, fungicides and herbicides, for instance, protect crops from insects, diseases and competition from weeds. It also means better seeds to improve crop growth and quality, and decrease loss of produce.
Modern science can identify key natural traits of a plant to breed improved varieties with the highest possible yield. In other instances, genetic modification can be used to achieve traits, such as disease resistance or herbicide tolerance.
Global agriculture demands a diversity of approaches, specific to crops, localities, resources and cultures. It makes sense for growers to have all available solutions accessible to them.
Syngenta works with experts to give farmers solutions tailored to their circumstances so they can achieve reliably higher yields.
Technology for crop quality
- In Africa, weeds and insects damage 25% of crops every year
- Hand weeding a one-hectare farm requires 200 hours of backbreaking labor
Beyond greater yields, growers are under pressure to produce reliable, high-quality crops that meet the expectations of food processors and consumers. Food must be tasty, healthy and nutritious at affordable prices. High-quality produce can also protect against food losses after harvest.
Technology can help growers to meet these expectations, often opening new markets and providing a more reliable income. Increasing the nutritious content of food also helps to meet increasing demand for healthy food.
Sharing responsibility for our planet
It is time for us to create a new vision for the future: we can use technology to produce food more sustainably. Today’s agricultural solutions can help farmers protect land, water, and biodiversity for future generations.
But recent advocacy efforts in the western world argue against agricultural modernization. They support regulations opposing the use of improved seeds and crop protection products. Realistically, without technology we cannot feed the world and we place our planet at risk.
Agricultural solutions can reduce food losses during production, transport, and storage. Integrated solutions can increase yield and quality. And new plant science can help crops adapt to the changing climate and changing consumer needs.
Agricultural policies and regulations must support the development and deployment of the technologies that the world needs to sustainably feed itself. For growers to benefit from technology, collaboration must include the broadest range of stakeholders: governments, international organizations, foundations, corporations and rural communities.
We are all connected in today’s global world. We are all responsible for protecting our planet.