The role of innovation in improving food security
The ever-increasing population of the Earth is a challenge mainly with regard to food supply security. According to experts’ estimates, over the next 40-50 years’ time, it is going to be necessary to produce as much food as in the past 10,000 years! Providing enough foodstuffs for the generation may be achieved thanks to better crop efficiency.
High time to get busy
The main threats on the path to increasing the efficiency of agricultural production include climate change and ensuing extreme weather phenomenons, the soil becoming barren, shrinking water resources, as well as the reduced efficiency of food production on plateaus, especially those where rice and wheat are grown. However, the main challenge shaping agricultural development are the skills required to use the existing farmland in the best possible manner. In this situation, the acquisition of new areas for cultivation by cutting down the forest and turning savannas into arable land are short-term solutions. Innovation is the best course of action in response to the long-term challenges global agricultural production is facing.
Are the leaders of agricultural production innovation leaders as well?
At present China is the country facing the most realistic threat of famine. This is why Smart Agriculture Analytics has been operating in this country since 2012. SAA is responsible for the exchange of information between farmers and research institutions which seek new farming methods.
In the USA, even NASA is involved in the research on climate change and its consequences for agriculture. On the other hand, government action is not the only way to gain information and boost crop efficiency.
Main trends in agricultural development
The scientific approach to food security issues has been changing globally. The leading trends in research are:
• Genetic research – wrongly associated with GMO only. The field also concerns analyzing the plants on genome level, helping to understand which nutrients and fertilizers are required at given stages of growth. Fertilization (of maize in particular, as research focuses on this plant) at the right moment helps to boost crops.
• Small farms – according to research from 2013, there are over 500 million such farms and they are located mainly in the developing countries. The application of new farming methods and technology could provide a realistic opportunity to improve their quantity and quality of yield.
• Urban farming – a dynamic trend connected with Eco City concept, which has also been gaining popularity. It offers small crops grown for the urban farmer’s own needs, and depends on cultivating places which have not been regarded as useful in agriculture, such as schoolyards and pots on balconies.