There is not a single solution that will deliver global food security, however, sustainable innovations in plant science – both in plant biotech and crop protection – can make a significant impact.
A recent study looked at the global burden of pests on wheat, rice, maize, potato and soybean – which make up a large proportion of global calorie intake. It found annual losses to be 21.5, 30.0, 22.5, 17.2 and 21.4% per crop respectively.
Solving the devastation of fall armyworm
The fall armyworm (FAW) is one such devastating pest. First detected in Africa in 2016, it has since spread throughout sub-Saharan Africa and into Asia – threatening the food security and livelihoods of millions of small-scale farmers. Without control measures, the pest can reduce maize yields by as much as 50%.
Our industry is well placed to provide sustainable solutions, as insecticides are one of the few proven and effective tools to manage FAW, but to serve farmers effectively we must work together. For instance, CropLife Africa Middle East recently engaged with USAID’s Feed the Future project in Ethiopia to train farmers in FAW identification and responsible control.
Insect-resistant biotech crops are another tool used successfully across North and South America, and latterly in South Africa, in effectively managing the FAW pest. Though cultivation of biotech crops remains prohibited across most of Africa, denying farmers access to this potentially useful tool.
Innovation needs to reach farmers
Agriculture has always been at the cutting edge of innovation and it’s the threat of pests like FAW that drives our industry to invest heavily into sustainable solutions for farmers.
Through innovation, our plant scientists are developing pesticides that are ever safer, more targeted and have less impact on the environment. They are also developing biotech crops that are tolerant to climate stresses and biofortified foods that translate directly into hunger and nutrition benefits.
But farmers need access to these solutions. We need a regulatory environment to support innovations and collaborations across the public and private sectors to help deliver them to farmers responsibly.
Food must be available to those who need it, and farmers must have available solutions to achieve zero hunger by 2030.
We recently worked with Global Cause on the 2019 World Food Day campaign. A printed publication was enclosed within every copy of the World Food Day publication and the content is available online at: www.globalcause.co.uk/world-food-day. The campaign featured exclusive content from key thought leaders and industry voices on how to promote food security.