The Sustainable Agriculture Organisation (FNL) and DuPont hosted a roundtable last week at the International Green Week in Berlin, Germany – the world’s biggest fair for food, agriculture and horticulture – to discuss food security. The event was hosted by Werner Schwarz, Member of the FNL Board and Vice President of the German Farmers Association, and attended by US Ambassador John B. Emerson, Pat Thaker from the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), Piero Conforti from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and Hartmut Reinke, from DuPont.
In the room there is general consensus. The facts are clear. US Ambassador John B. Emerson remarked that despite all the world’s technological advances, today nearly 870 million people, or one-eighth of the world’s population, suffer from chronic hunger. And indeed, any discussion on food security begins with similar sobering statements: According to the U.N., food output must grow by 70 percent beyond today’s level in order to feed a population of nine billion or more by 2050. It also means that in the coming 30 years, developing countries will need an extra 120 million hectares for crops, an overall increase of 12.5 percent.
The commitment of the session’s participants is evident and steadfast. Ambassador Emerson affirmed the United States is committed to improving global food security across a broad range of programs and initiatives like “Feed the Future” among others, and emphasized the role of innovation. Indeed, improving global food security requires agricultural innovation – from maximizing yield potential, keeping crops pest- and disease-free, enhancing the nutritional value of food, detecting contamination before it causes sickness, and reducing waste by packaging food efficiently – all elements that our science at DuPont currently addresses that lead to sustainable productivity gains.
This commitment leads to questions of accountability and measurement. What are the indicators of food security? How can governments, companies, institutions, and individuals understand the different facets of food security, and what actions can be taken that will have real impact? Pat Thaker from the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) and Piero Conforti from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) introduced their respective indices to help address those questions. As the discussion unfolded, and the issues and food security indicators deconstructed, what became clear is that the EIU Global Food Security Index, which is sponsored by DuPont, and the FAO’s work on a food security index, can only complement each other in helping guide policy makers and highlighting market development opportunities.
“Improving food security requires holding ourselves accountable to specific and measureable actions. Understanding the indicators that impact food security is the first step in forming collaborative partnerships to address what should be the top priority of all nations, companies and individuals,” concluded Hartmut Reinke, from DuPont.