Sustainable agriculture: is it optional and can it feed the world?
Today we had the honour and pleasure of having Prof Robert Watson at IFAD. He gave a talk on climate change challenges and how the loss of biodiversity impacts food, water, engergy and human security.
Prof Watson is the chief scientific advisor of department of environment, food and rural affairs of United Kingdom and former scientific advisor to the White House and former World Bank chief scientist.
During his talk, he shared his insights on scientific, policy and economic interlinkages between climate change and loss of biodiversity. Prof Watson made the case for sustainable agriculture. He highlighted that the demand for food will double in the next 25 years which means we need sustained growth to feed world, to enhance rural livelihoods and stimulate economic growth.
"We need to think of agriculture as multifunctional taking into account economic, social and environmental aspects", said Watson. He also made the point that failure of rural development and trade policy failures are the cause for not benefiting evenly from yield increases.
He called for the need to embed economic, environmental and social sustainability into agricultural policies, practices and technologies. He mentioned that "global food security is achievable however, business-as-usual policies, practices and technologies will not work. This is why we need to address hunger problems with appropriate use of current technologies, emphasizing agro-ecological practices".
On the issue of GM, he said: "GM will only take off if brings real benefits." He also said "I am not convinced that organic agriculture will feed the world."
He passionately made the case for the need to integrate trade issues with environmental and agricultural issues.
One of my take home messages was Prof Watson's lecture was the need for solid rural development to be able to reap the benefits of science and technology and also the fact that sustainable agriculture is not optional but a must.