Sus­tain­able agri­cul­ture key to erad­i­cat­ing poverty

In­no­va­tion in global food pro­duc­tion is vi­tal to pro­vid­ing the world with enough to eat and help­ing the poor

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - IP SPECIAL - MA ZHIPING in Ling­shui, Hainan mazhip­ing@chi­nadaily.com.cn

At the fifth Global Fo­rum of Lead­ers for Agri­cul­tural Science and Tech­nol­ogy in Ling­shui, Hainan prov­ince, last week, ex­perts reached the con­sen­sus that sci­en­tific and tech­no­log­i­cal in­no­va­tion is vi­tal for sus­tain­able agri­cul­tural de­vel­op­ment, and is there­fore crit­i­cal to global food se­cu­rity and poverty elim­i­na­tion.

Agri­cul­tural lead­ers and ex­perts at the con­fer­ence called on govern­ments and the pri­vate sec­tor to in­vest more in agri­cul­tural science and tech­nol­ogy in­no­va­tion.

“His­tory and data once again proved that science and tech­nol­ogy play a sig­nif­i­cant role in con­serv­ing and us­ing crop and an­i­mal di­ver­sity, scal­ing up pro­duc­tion, en­hanc­ing the added value of agri­cul­tural pro­duce, in­creas­ing farmers’ in­come and re­duc­ing poverty,” said the meet­ing’s Ling­shui Dec­la­ra­tion.

With the theme of “Elim­i­nat­ing hunger and poverty through S&T in­no­va­tion”, the three-day fo­rum was co-hosted by the Chi­nese Academy of Agri­cul­tural Sci­ences, the Food and Agri­cul­ture Or­ga­ni­za­tion of the United Na­tions, the Con­sul­ta­tive Group of In­ter­na­tional Agri­cul­tural Re­search and the gov­ern­ment of Hainan. The event was co-or­ga­nized by the Hainan Academy of Agri­cul­tural Sci­ences, Hainan Pro­vin­cial Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture and the gov­ern­ment of Ling­shui Li au­ton­o­mous county.

The fo­rum drew 210 del­e­gates from re­search in­sti­tutes and uni­ver­si­ties from 52 coun­tries and re­gions, in­ter­na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tions and multi­na­tional cor­po­ra­tions.

Tech­nol­ogy shar­ing

Ini­ti­ated by the Chi­nese Acade-

IP scene

my of Agri­cul­tural Sci­ences, with sup­port from na­tional and in­ter­na­tional agric ul­tural or­ga­ni­za­tions and agen­cies, the fo­rum has be­come a plat­form for de­vel­op­ing so­lu­tions to global food se­cu­rity chal­lenges.

It is also a plat­form for lead­ers and sci­en­tists to ex­change ideas, share ex­pe­ri­ences, and pro­mote mu­tu­ally ben­e­fi­cial co-cre­ation of science and tech­nol­ogy knowl­edge and ap­pli­ca­tions.

The plat­form par­tic­u­larly foc uses on aid­ing small farmers in meet­ing mar­ket de­mands and on en­hanc­ing science and tech­nolog y trans­for­ma­tion and adop­tion in poor re­gions through in­no­va­tive and con­text-spe­cific ap­proaches.

The fo­rum reached an un­equiv­o­cal con­sen­sus that it is crit­i­cal to es­tab­lish a long-term col­lab­o­ra­tion mech­a­nism to meet the emerg­ing agri­cul­tural chal­lenges in the rapidly chang­ing glob­al­iza­tion era, con­tribut­ing to global ex­treme poverty erad­i­ca­tion and over­all poverty re­duc­tion by 2030, as stated in the UN 2030 Agenda for Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment.

Agric ul­tural of­fi­cials showed their strong sup­port and spoke highly of the meet­ing’s pro­pos­als.

Elim­i­nat­ing poverty

Qu Dongyu, Chi­nese vice-min­is­ter of agri­cul­ture, told the fo­rum that the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment has al­ways at­tached great im­por­tance to the elim­i­na­tion of poverty and im­prov­ing peo­ple’s daily life by ap­ply­ing agri­cul­tural science and tech­nol­ogy.

“His­tor y and data show that science and tech­nol­ogy have pro­vided solid sup­port in re­duc­ing hunger and poverty in the world,” Qu said, cit­ing the suc­cess of 86-year-old Chi­nese aca­demi­cian Yuan Long­ping as an ex­am­ple.

Yuan, com­monly known as “the fa­ther of hy­brid rice” in China, re­cently achieved an an­nual out­put of 1,537 kilo­grams per mu (0.067 hectare) for his dou­ble­sea­son su­per rice this year, break­ing the cur­rent world record of 1,500 kg.

“China is will­ing to share with all other coun­tries its ex­pe­ri­ence and de­vel­op­ment in the ap­pli­ca­tion of science and tech­nol­ogy to pro­mote agri­cul­tural growth and elim­i­nate poverty,” said Qu.

Tang Hua­jun, pres­i­dent of the Chi­nese Academy of Agri­cul­tural Sci­ences, said science and tech­nol­ogy have proven to be ef­fec­tive weapons in the fight against poverty.

T he academy has launched State-level agric ul­tural science and tech­nol­ogy in­no­va­tion proj- ects and es­tab­lished a na­tional agri­cul­tural science and tech­nol­ogy in­no­va­tion al­liance with other min­istries, ac­cord­ing to Tang.

“CAAS is will­ing to co­op­er­ate with part­ners, in­ter­na­tional groups and the pri­vate sec­tor around the world to in­tro­duce and ex­change science and tech­nol­ogy in a bid to fur­ther re­duce poverty on a global scale,” said Tang.

The United Na­tions Food and Agri­cul­ture Or­ga­ni­za­tion es­ti­mates that the world will need to pro­duce some 60 per­cent more food, on av­er­age, to feed a hun­gry world by 2050, when the global pop­u­la­tion is ex­pected to top 9 bil­lion.

“In­no­va­tion must ben­e­fit the many. Ef­forts to lever­age science and tech­nolog y in the field of agri­cul­ture must in­volve ever yo n e , f r o m a c o u n t r y ’s l e a d i n g re­searcher to the farmer’s fam­ily work­ing in the field,” said Kund­havi Kadire­san, as­sis­tant di­rec­tor-gen­eral and re­gional rep­re­sen­ta­tive for Asia and the Pa­cific at the FAO.

“We need to de­velop the ca­pac­ity for in­no­va­tion on small­holder farms. The skills and ca­pac­i­ties of in­di­vid­u­als in­volved in all as­pects of the agri­cul­tural in­no­va­tion sys­tem — farmers, ex­ten­sion ser­vice providers and re­searchers — all of these must be up­graded through ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing at all lev­els,” she said.

“But the world needs more than just more food in the years go­ing for­ward, re­searchers need to fo­cus on de­vel­op­ing and grow­ing more nu­tri­tious foods to ward off mi­cronu­tri­ent de­fi­cien­cies,” said Fan Shenggen, di­rec­tor-gen­eral of the In­ter­na­tional Food Pol­icy Re­search In­sti­tute.

Ef­forts to lever­age science and tech­nol­ogy in the field of agri­cul­ture must in­volve ev­ery­one.” Kund­havi Kadire­san, as­sis­tant di­rec­tor-gen­eral of the UN Food and Agri­cul­ture Or­ga­ni­za­tion in­crease in food pro­duc­tion needed by 2050 to feed the world pop­u­la­tion

MA ZHIPING / CHINA DAILY

Par­tic­i­pants in the fifth Global Fo­rum of Lead­ers for Agri­cul­ture and Tech­nol­ogy visit the China-Dutch Pro­tected Agri­cul­ture Demon­stra­tion Zone on Dec 15 in Ling­shui Li au­ton­o­mous county, Hainan prov­ince.

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