6th Forum for the Future of Agriculture (FFA)

March 06, 2013

FFA turns spotlight on sustainable intensification of food production

On March 5, the 6th Forum for the Future of Agriculture (FFA) took place in Brussels. Organized in partnership by Syngenta and the European Landowners’ Organization (ELO), the event focused on the challenges of sustainable intensification of food production. Much of the discussions also touched on the forthcoming reform of the EU Common Agriculture Policy (CAP).

John Atkin - FFA

John Atkin, COO of Syngenta, joined a panel discussion on the CAP and the food value chain, where he commented on the upcoming reform: “Over EUR 360 billion will be spent on the new CAP, but it has to be more than farm subsidies if it’s going to lead to the sustainable intensification of agriculture, and provide value for Europe’s taxpayer.”

John highlighted that the CAP must also be part of a legislative framework that supports innovation in agriculture: “The EU’s track record on this is poor: an increasingly conservative approach is resulting in unnecessary restrictions on some technologies needed by farmers to be productive, competitive, and sustainable in the global market. The new CAP must also incentivize farmers to adopt solutions − such as the pollen-rich flowering field margins of Operation Pollinator, which provide habitat and nutrition essential to the survival of bees.”

Enabling Africa to feed itself

In a session on the agricultural development in Africa, the delegates were in agreement that to realize the great potential and to tackle malnutrition and poverty, growers need access to modern inputs, infrastructure and markets as well as motivating pricing policies. Akinwumi Adesina, Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development in Nigeria, also emphasized the importance of modernizing African agriculture to make it more attractive for young people. Syngenta intends to play a leading role in supporting agricultural transformation on the continent, which is reflected by our commitment to build a $1 billion business in Africa over the next 10 years.

Wheat/Crops

Other major topics of debate were food waste, bio-based economy, and sustainable intensification and resource efficiency. To increase production on existing land while preserving ecosystems and biodiversity, the FFA delegates called for new forms of public-private partnerships generating practical solutions that are easy to adopt on farms across Europe.

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The 6th FFA brought together more than 1,500 representatives from politics, regulatory bodies, agri-food industry, NGOs and consumer groups. Speakers at this year’s event included José Manuel Barroso, President, European Commission; Akinwumi Adesina, Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development, Federal Republic of Nigeria; Paolo de Castro, Chair of the Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development, European Parliament; Franz Fischler, FFA 2013 Chair and Chairman of the RISE Foundation; Matthias Groote, Chair of the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee, European Parliament; Mindaugas Kuklierius, Vice-Minister for Agriculture, Republic of Lithuania; Ladislav Miko, Deputy Director General for Food Chain, Directorate General for Health and Consumer, European Commission;; Janez Potočnik, EU Commissioner for Environment, European Commission; and Bob Zoellick, President of World Bank (2007-2012).

Read more about the 2012 FFA (themed “Resource efficiency, innovation and governance”) and the 2011 FFA (themed “Refocusing security on food and nature – CAP renewal for better farming”).

Multifunctional landscapes

Prior to the FFA, on March 4, the Multifunctional Landscapes Roadshow was launched in Brussels, bringing together policy makers, academics, farmers, industry and other stakeholders to develop a new approach for proactive management practices of natural resources at the farm level. One project within the initiative is the creation of the longest field margin in Europe.