The organisation this week held its 2018 AGM in Singapore – bringing together leaders in the plant science industry and the broader food industry.
By 2050, the global population is projected to rise to around 10 billion. The organisation said that ensuring a sustainable supply of food that is safe and nutritious is one of the greatest challenges the world faces.
This challenge is particularly pronounced within South East Asia where critical factors suggest a deteriorating landscape.
Just last year, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) released findings that food security conditions had worsened in more vulnerable parts of the world – including South Eastern and Western Asia. Also contained in the FAO data were troubling statistics indicating that the number of undernourished people globally is increasing – up from 777 million in 2015 to 815 million in 2016.
“With food insecurity on the rise in Asia, ensuring a sustainable supply of safe and nutritious food in our region is critically important,” said Tina Lawton, president of CropLife Asia. “The plant science industry of Asia remains steadfast in its support of our region’s farmers to grow more food, and to ensuring our technology is used responsibly in that pursuit.”
Asia is home to the smallest-sized farms and the largest number of smallholder farmers globally. It’s estimated that 85% of the world’s 525 million smallholder farmers live and work within the continent – around 100 million in South East Asia alone.
With fewer resources and more challenges to mitigate such as access to technology, landholder rights, finance availability, and climate change, smallholder farmers in the region face a daunting task.
Tools and tech
“The challenge of feeding a growing population calls for a shared solution among food and agriculture stakeholders that ensures success, sustainability and good stewardship,” added Dr. Siang Hee, executive director of CropLife Asia.
“The innovative technologies of plant science are a key component of the solution. At CropLife Asia, we remain committed to working with our fellow food and agriculture stakeholders to ensure farmers have access to the modern tools and technology they need to do the job.”
CropLife Asia says the advancements of Asia’s plant science industry are providing invaluable tools for the region’s smallholders by helping them sustainably increase their yields, use fewer resources, and minimise the impact on the environment.
"Biotech crops are helping increase crop productivity, conserve biodiversity and increase farmer incomes. The technology has also helped slow the advance of climate change by reducing carbon emissions. In 2015 alone, it’s estimated that biotech crop plantings lowered carbon dioxide emissions by 26.7 billion kg which is equivalent to removing around 12 million cars from the road for an entire year. Farmer income gains from 1996-2015 generated globally by biotech crops amounted to about US$167.8 billion," it added.