Protecting environment through agriculture
Today, it is fundamental not only to increase food production, but to do it in a way that does not damage the environment. Nourishing people must go hand in hand with nurturing the planet
To achieve sustainable development we must transform current agriculture and food systems, including by supporting smallholders and family farmers, reducing pesticide and chemical use, and improving land conservation practices, said General José Graziano da Silva, Director General, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) during addressing European lawmakers in Brussels, Belgium.
"Massive agriculture intensification is contributing to increased deforestation, water scarcity, soil depletion and the level of greenhouse gas emission," Graziano da Silva said. He stressed that while high-input and resource intensive farming systems have substantially increased food production, this has come at a high cost to the environment.
"Today, it is fundamental not only to increase production, but to do it in a way that does not damage the environment. Nourishing people must go hand in hand with nurturing the planet," he said. This is in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs0 and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change,” he added.
"We have to move from input intense to knowledge intense production systems," the FAO Director-General said.
Future of food and agriculture
Speaking to members of the European Parliament's Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development, Graziano da Silva highlighted the findings of FAO's report. Among the 15 trends described in the report, are the impacts of climate change, conflicts and migration. The FAO report also foresees 10 challenges for achieving food security, improving nutrition and promoting sustainable agriculture worldwide.
In his address, he focused on four main issues: climate change; the spread of transboundary pests and diseases; food loss and waste; and the importance of eradicating not only hunger, but all forms of malnutrition in the world.
Addressing climate change
Graziano da Silva underscored that no sector is more sensitive to climate change than agriculture - especially for smallholders and family farmers from developing countries - while at the same time, agriculture and food systems account for around 30 percent of total greenhouse emissions.
"In agriculture, adaptation and mitigation go hand in hand. There is no trade-off between the two," the FAO Director-General said. He pointed to the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while at the same time building the resilience and promote the adaptation of farmers to the impacts of climate change.
To this end, FAO supports countries through different initiatives and approaches, including climate-smart agriculture, agroecology and agro-forestry.
Curbing pests and diseases
Globalisation, trade and climate change, as well as reduced resilience in production systems, have all played a part in dramatically increasingly the spread of transboundary pests and diseases in recent years. These constitute a major threat to the livelihoods of farmers and the food security of millions of people.
José Graziano da Silva Director-General, FAO In agriculture, adaptation and mitigation go hand in hand. There is no tradeoff between the two. No sector is more sensitive to climate change than agriculture, especially for smallholders and family farmers from developing countries