CropLife Asia

CropLife Asia Supports UN FAO Call for Food & Agriculture to ´Change´ along with Climate to Meet Growing Demands


Source: CropLife Asia

Plant Science Technology Highlighted as Key 'Tool in the Toolbox' for Smallholder Farmers

As Asia and the world prepare to mark World Food Day, CropLife Asia expressed its strong support for the 2016 theme put forth by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) - 'Climate is changing. Food and agriculture must too.'

The impact of climate change is increasingly being felt by our farmers, as the number of extreme weather events each year continues to rise. In 2013 alone there were 880 such events - representing a 40% increase over the 30-year average.

At the same time, our population is growing. Estimates suggest the world's population is set to eclipse nine billion inhabitants by the year 2050, and Asia alone is projected to have one billion more people calling it home than do today. Within just 10 short years, an additional 60 million men, women and children will be living in Singapore and the rest of ASEAN.

As the population continues to rise, so too do the demands we're placing on smallholder farmers to feed more people. Factor in the agricultural impact of climate change, less available water and arable land, more pests and diseases to combat, and the catastrophic affect weather-related events bring to disrupt the fragile balance smallholder farmers depend on - and the task at hand is that much more daunting.

Among the global regions, Asia has the smallest-sized farms and the largest number of smallholder farmers. It's estimated that 85% of the world's 525 million smallholder farmers live and work within our continent - around 100 million alone in ASEAN.

'Enabling the smallholder farmers of Asia to produce more with less is a pursuit the plant science industry takes seriously, and a responsibility we share with our fellow food chain stakeholders across the region,' said Dr. Siang Hee Tan, Executive Director of CropLife Asia. 'Climate change presents a formidable challenge for our region's smallholder farmers. Innovative plant science technologies are changing the game and increasingly becoming an essential tool in the toolbox towards a sustainable solution.'

To meet demands, growers around the world will need to produce more food - as much as 70% more than today - while reducing the footprint of farming. The technology of plant science is a key resource in making that possible. Crop protection products prevent nearly 40% of global rice and maize harvests from being lost every year. Meanwhile, biotech crops helped slow the advance of climate change by reducing carbon emissions. It is estimated biotech crop plantings in 2013 alone lowered carbon dioxide emissions equivalent to removing 12.4 million cars from the road for one year.

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