Sustainability in Food

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Dubai CEO Forum Debates Nutrition & Health

DuPont recently hosted the DuPont Executive Forum in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, where approximately 100 CEOs from the world’s leading multinational companies came together to collaborate on best practices related to sustainable business growth.

DuPont Chair and CEO Ellen Kullman opened the forum with a keynote address focused on building a sustainable economy through collaboration. This was followed by a series of panel discussions, including the panel Building Nutrition & Health in a Growing Population, led by Craig Binetti, president DuPont Nutrition & Health.

“The need for both affordable and nutritious food to feed growing populations in the Middle East and beyond is a growing concern,” said Binetti. “Ensuring that enough healthy, nutritious food is available for people everywhere is one of the most critical challenges facing humanity.”

The rest of the panel consisted of: Sanjiv Mehta, chairman, North Africa and Middle East, Unilever; Atila Kurama, group president of Financial Investments, Yıldız Holding; Robert Powell, Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) senior economist and editor; and Brinda Govindarajan, senior director, Research & Technology, Kellogg Asia-Pacific Ltd.,.

“Nutrition problems can’t be solved by one group of people, we need to work together to better mankind,” said Govindarajan.

Binetti concluded that organizations have come a long way since food security was first raised. “People aren’t just talking about food supply anymore, we now include nutritional value.”

Learn more about food security in the Middle East and Northern Africa region in an Economist Intelligence Unit summary drawn from the 2013 Global Food Security Index. Find out more about how nutrition impacts food security in your country by visiting the EIU Global Food Security Index.

Africa Technology Hub

(part 3 in our series covering the CNBC Africa panel discussion on the importance of technology in improving food security in Africa)

Pioneer has committed to help improve agricultural research and technology by investing R62 million by 2017 to establish a new regional technology hub in South Africa to serve the continent. The town of Delmas, Mpumalanga, South Africa, will serve as a technology center for the hub, which is comprised of a network of research and testing locations around South Africa and Africa.

The hub will apply advanced seed breeding technologies, such as doubled haploids, ear
photometry and the proprietary Pioneer Accelerated Yield Technology or AYT™ System, as well as genetic breeding technologies like marker-assisted selection, to shorten breeding cycles and improve accuracy toward breeding targets – including improved resistance to drought, insect and disease pressures, as well as improved yields with limited inputs, such as fertilizer.

“One of the problems in Africa is that food production is traditionally organized at the village level, resulting in small-scale planning that is based on immediate needs,” Dr. Norman Maiwashe, a senior researcher at the Agricultural Research Council, told the CNBC Africa panel in a program that aired August 20. “We need to change our thinking to focus on long-term requirements. We have to bring science into the equation.”

According to Paul E. Schickler, president of DuPont Pioneer, collaboration between NGOs, the private sector, government institutions, and academia as well as small-scale and commercial farmers, is crucial to foster a more embracing culture towards new farming technologies. “Only by working together will Africa be able capitalize on its inherent natural resource endowments and ensure long-term national and household food security.”

DuPont Pioneer Africa Research Hub

DuPont Pioneer Africa Research Hub

Invest in Science, Technology and People

(part 2 in our series covering the CNBC Africa panel discussion on the importance of technology in improving food security in Africa)

Given that as much as 40 percent of agricultural output goes to waste in Africa due to inadequate transport and storage, the need for investment in science, technology and education is imperative.(1)

“We need to think of science and technology in a broad sense that encompasses everything from the use of enhanced seed varieties to the correct agronomic skills, access to finance and even something as simple as no-till farming techniques that help keep organic matter in the ground where it is needed,” said Paul E. Schickler, president of DuPont Pioneer during a panel discussion that aired on CNBC Africa on August 20. “The other crucial thing is to adapt global technology to local needs. Although science provides universal answers, solutions must be local so as to account for variations in climate, soils, cultural traditions and distribution infrastructure.”

Investing in South African Farmers
Pioneer has committed R20 million (South African Rand) over five years to assist smallholder farmer development in South Africa. In November 2012, Pioneer established a collaborative agreement with the Limpopo Department of Agriculture (LDA) to work together with rural communities and other stakeholders to develop programmes addressing the challenges faced by small-scale and developing farmers in order to increase their overall farm productivity, profitability and food security. Since the beginning of the collaboration, Pioneer has invested R500 000. Limpopo is a key province for agricultural development in South Africa and its provincial government is supporting several initiatives to foster food security and self-sufficiency among emerging farmers.

Schickler said that while new technology is typically embraced in telecommunications, transport and healthcare, it is often regarded with skepticism when applied to agriculture. The result is that many African nations find themselves perpetuating less productive farming techniques and missing out on opportunities to improve household and national food security.

Lindie Stroebel, manager for Economic Intelligence at Agribusiness Chamber, told the CNBC Africa panel that the failure to embrace technological advances in agriculture is one reason why African crop yields are significantly lower than those of advanced economies that have adopted new farming technologies. Although Africa has 35 million hectares (or 86 million acres) of land available for maize production, average grain yields on the continent are less than 2 tons per hectare, about one-third of what is achieved in other developing regions and only one-fifth of yields in developed countries.

Improving Food Security

The South Africa Smallholder Development Project can help improve Food Security.

(1) Source: Global Harvest Initiative Symposium, Capturing the Full Value of the Supply Chain: Reducing Postharvest Waste, September 2009.
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