Knowledge is new paradigm for the future

Agriculture set for major transformation - Graziano da Silva

(ANSA) - Rome, December 4 - Agriculture is poised for another major transformation as gains from the Green Revolution come up against natural resource limits, FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva said in a recent keynote speech at the Chatham House think tank. "The future of agriculture is not input-intensive, but knowledge-intensive. This is the new paradigm," Graziano da Silva said. Food production increased in recent decades, but at a high cost to the environment, generating deforestation, water scarcity, soil depletion and high levels of greenhouse gas emissions, he said. From now on "nourishing people must go hand in hand with nurturing the planet," he said.
    "Current food systems have been shown to be inefficient to eradicate hunger in the world," Graziano da Silva added, noting that actual output is more than enough to feed the entire global population yet still more than 800 million people are undernourished. Making sure everyone has access to food is as important if not more than focusing on increasing production, he said, noting that social protection programmes - such as conditional cash transfers and harnessing local production to school meals to boost both nutrition and smallholder farmers' access to markets - must be a core part of any effort to keep the situation of poor rural people in developing countries from worsening. "We need to promote innovation and implement sustainable practices that provide nutritious and accessible food, ecosystem services and climate-change resilience at the same time," Graziano da Silva said. That entails reducing the use of pesticides and chemicals in farming, increasing crop diversification and improving land conservation practices, among other measures. Graziano da Silva pointed to FAO's recent report, The Future of Food and Agriculture: Trends and Challenges, identifies 15 major trends and 10 challenges that policy makers must be prepared to tackle in the coming years. "All countries must commit to implementing fundamental changes," he said. The role of the consumer is increasingly important, especially forms of malnutrition such as obesity are rapidly growing, he emphasized, noting that more than two billion people are overweight and 500 million obese. "To provide people with healthier food, we have to act in each step of the food system from production to consumption," FAO's Director-General said.