Joe Fisher won a Farmers Weekly competition to attend the first ever Youth Ag Summit in Canada in August. Read an extract from his winning essay.
Science has a major role to play in tackling food security. Further investment in science to expand upon the potential of GM crops is vital; where this technology is used around the world farmers have slashed costs and raised yields.
The potential to be gained from greater drought-, pest- and disease-resistant crops is huge, along with improving the sustainability of farming systems with fewer inputs required.
Additionally, plant breeders, through gene manipulation, have begun steps to increase carbon sequestration into the soil and nitrogen fixation. Biotechnology like this must be brought forward to a commercial scale – proven crop varieties of this sort could increase yields and cut costs, while also being climate-smart in terms of using greenhouse gases in the production process.
Food waste is also a chronic problem. The FAO claims between 30% and 40% of all food is wasted globally at different stages of the supply chain.
In the developing world, 30% is lost to disease, pests and inadequate storage.
Better agricultural knowledge and practice through investment and government support must be introduced to reduce this. In the developed world, most waste comes post-harvest.
Processors and supermarkets alike waste thousands of tonnes – firms must be regulated with incentives for meeting waste targets. At consumer level, approximately 30% of all food bought is wasted.
Reducing this will be difficult; educating people to the consequences of wastage will not be easy. More and larger government-backed initiatives to reduce household waste are needed.