Jan 12, 2015
Sustainable Wheat, Maize and Rice Production
Maize, rice and wheat are fundamental crops
Experts at the meeting said that the challenge could only be met with eco-friendly agriculture that achieves higher productivity while conserving natural resources, adapting to climate change, and delivering economic benefits to the world's 500 million small-scale family farms. The meeting focused on maize, rice and wheat because those three crops are fundamental to world food security, providing 50% of humanity's dietary energy supply. Cereals are also increasingly vulnerable: climate trends since 1980 have reduced the annual global maize harvest by an estimated 23 million tonnes and the wheat harvest by 33 million tonnes. Green Revolution cereal yield increases, once averaging a spectacular 3% a year, have fallen to around 1% since 2000. In Asia, the degradation of soils and the buildup of toxins in intensive paddy systems have raised concerns that the slowdown in yield growth reflects a deteriorating crop-growing environment.
Input intensive agriculture
The FAO meeting agreed that agriculture can no longer rely on input-intensive agriculture to increase crop production. Improved varieties of maize, rice and wheat must go hand-in-hand with what FAO calls 'Save and Grow' farming systems that keep soil healthy, integrate crop, tree and animal production, use water far more efficiently, and protect crops with integrated pest management.
EMMY KOELEMAN 12 Jan 2015