Ana Claudia Cerasoli
President, Meso-Andean Region
Corteva Agriscience

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Resilience a Condition for Strengthening Agriculture’s Future

By Ana Claudia Cerasoli | Mon, 07/04/2022 - 12:00

Securing food production for the future is not an easy task. Economic, environmental and health obstacles are continually emerging that are making it difficult to achieve one of the sustainable development goals (SDGs) that the United Nations (UN) has set itself: ending hunger by 2030. In 2019, the number of undernourished people in the world was estimated to be 96 million; by 2020, that number was in the range of 720 to 811 million.

The 2021 edition of the Global Food Security Index (GFSI), developed by Economist Impact and sponsored by Corteva Agriscience, shows that food security on the planet has fallen for the third consecutive year due to a series of threats to agricultural production, thus breaking a streak of improvement achieved in the previous seven years.

The setback reported by the index emphasizes the urgency of working to strengthen agricultural resilience and sustainability, empower farmers, use new technologies and secure food systems. These are relevant issues that all countries need to pay attention to, regardless of their level of development.  

Increasing food insecurity is largely caused by climate change, a phenomenon that has triggered the emergence of quite harmful pests, and health phenomena, such as the pandemic, although it should be noted that hunger is a problem that has worsened considerably since 2014, long before COVID-19 spread across the globe.  

What to do in such a challenging environment? Part of the answer is to use innovation and technology to produce more food with minimal environmental impact, which experts call “sustainable intensification.” To this end, it is important to expand the scope and also integrate the concept of environmental resilience.  

And both the public and private sectors need to make the necessary investments in innovation to reduce hunger on a global scale. In this way, new tools, data and technology can increase the efficiency of food production and reduce the impact of environmental threats. In this regard, the GFSI highlights that economic and political stability, as well as resilience, are essential for food security.  

Commitment to Food Safety

According to the Economist Impact index, the challenges associated with climate change and the impacts of the pandemic, together with political upheaval in different regions, could have a major impact in the coming years. Hence, agricultural resilience is critical to protecting food security and human health for future generations.

In the current context, agricultural resilience becomes more important for those individuals who are most vulnerable to food security: women, children and migrant workers.

That is why climate change has become an urgent issue, and even more so in the face of land degradation, desertification and alteration of the planting season in different countries. It is, therefore, necessary to invest in solutions that are focused on addressing climate change. That includes innovating in tools that farmers need to be able to adapt to changes in the environment.

With more resilient crops, new tools and training, farmers will be able to overcome global challenges and achieve the food security of the future.

Innovation for Agricultural Development

Food technology is now positioned as the catalyst for resilience in the sector. In recent years, the latest innovations in seed development have been leveraged to help crops not only withstand extreme conditions but also droughts, insects and pests.

However, for example, in southeastern Mexico there is still low technological adoption that can range from the use of traditional seeds, ancestral planting methods and not having accurate climate information, to limited access to financing; these and other factors can delay their progress and weaken their ability to adapt and grow.

In Mexico, there is a great opportunity to support farmers in the southeast, including promoting the adoption of seed technology, crop protection and tools that allow them to have the possibility of having smart fields supported by scientific innovation to increase the profitability and efficiency of agriculture, and, by extension, resilience.

Science, technical knowledge and digital tools are catalysts for digital transformation, where farmers have the ability to manage their land and crops more effectively, and to achieve sustainability in food production. There are advanced platforms, such as Mi Lote, that provide farmers with the data that helps them make decisions, optimize resources and improve the harvest, and which they can access anywhere and at any time.

Through the analysis of large volumes of data, satellite images, analytics and algorithms, recommendations are provided based on different parameters and variables for the best hybrid seed to use in a particular field, in addition to making a diagnosis of the climate, as well as possible pests and diseases.

Collaboration for Resilience

A reality that the GFSI report makes clear is that the smallest farmers are those who make up the populations most vulnerable to the impacts associated with climate change, and they are also the ones with the least access to food security. Hence, the importance of building resilience and improving food security for these groups and their communities.

This is where government and NGO support, public-private partnerships, and investment in research and innovation are critical to prepare for climate disruption and protect natural resources, with a focus on rural areas and developing regions.

Agricultural resilience, therefore, plays a strategic role in developing an expedited response capacity and the vision to act assertively to ensure food supply in the face of the risks posed by climate change and socio-political and health events, as well as promoting innovation supported by investment of public and private bodies.

Photo by:   Ana Claudia Cerasoli