Speaking at the Congress in Rome, National Farmers’ Union (NFU) president Peter Kendall called on the world’s farming leaders to work together to find solutions to the huge food production challenges that lie ahead. Studies suggest lag periods of 15 to 25 years between research expenditures and widespread implementation at farm level, he said. “We must not underestimate that task. The time for just talking has run out.”
The challenge was sustainable intensification. “Put simply, we need to produce more and impact less,” he said. Less clear was whether governments and global decision-makers had a proper understanding of what was needed, by whom, how and at what cost.
Three crucial requirements were:
• More scientific research and development
• A better sharing of risk and reward throughout the supply chain
• Effective regulation and policy frameworks with reduced ‘red tape’.
Kendall gave a dramatic illustration of the timescale challenge of producing more food. “As I see it, we have just 13 harvests before we have 500 million more people needing food in Africa alone,” he said.