It’s been over a year since the Foresight report ‘The Future of Food and Farming: Challenges and choices for global sustainability’ was published in January 2011 and what a year it’s been! We’ve taken time to talk to stakeholders about how the report has affected them, which you can see in the video below.
The subject of sustainable agriculture is one of the most important issues we face today and one that is close to my heart. As the world population grows we need to look at ways to ensure that we are able to produce enough food to meet human need and overcome significant challenges to our natural resources. Currently, food production systems are unsustainable: without change the global food system will continue to degrade the environment and compromise the world’s capacity to produce food in the future, not to mention contributing to climate change.
DFID has worked hard to meet the commitments set out in the Food and Farming Futures Action Plan. Defra’s Minister of State for Agriculture and Food, Jim Paice MP, mentions in the video that the report has “really become the lodestar which guides all our work”, a testament to the hard work Foresight has put in to the project.
Internationally, we’ve worked with China and Brazil in developing their strategies and helped the African Union explore their priorities.
This week, I gave the keynote speech at the Westminster Food & Nutrition Forum event at the Royal Society. It was a chance to reiterate the importance of maintaining discussion and progress surrounding the issues of climate change, the growing population (late last year, world population reached 7 billion!) The next billion is expected by 2025, increasing demand for food, water and energy.
There is still hope, but we must start now. We need to push food security higher up the agenda at summits such as G20 and Rio+20 and continue to raise the profile of hunger around the world (a billion people go hungry and almost another billion suffer from lack of nutrition). We need to make the best use of agricultural technologies; from simple solutions like agro-forestry, improved irrigation to high tech advances in biotechnology. We need to do our best to reduce waste both domestically and globally. Most importantly, we need agriculture to work harder to reduce hunger by improving the sustainability of the food system around the world.