Three pillars to combat world hunger

Related tags Agriculture Argentina

With close to 800 million people suffering from hunger the
developing world is embracing innovative agricultural techniques
that promise increased food production.

With close to 800 million people suffering from hunger, most of them in the southern hemisphere, the developing world is embracing innovative agricultural techniques that promise increased food production while reducing environmental damage and achieving sustainability.

"If we make the best use of three locally available, renewable assets - natural, social, and human capital - we can generate productive andenvironmentally sustainable farming systems,"researcher Jules Pretty saidduring the recent American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)Annual Meeting in Boston.

Pretty, Professor of Environment and Society at the University of Essex in the UK, joined agriculture experts and agronomists at a AAAS sessionentitled, "Sustainable Agriculture in the Developing World: InnovativeExamples."

Koma Yang Siang, executive director of the Centre d'Etude et de Developpement Agricole, discussed recent innovations in Cambodian farminglike the implementation of the Ecological System of Rice Intensification(SRI), and its successful impact on rice farmers.

The SRI trains farmers in the management of plant, soil, nutrient, water andpests, teaching them to transplant young seedlings, implement shallowtransplanting, and maintain minimal water levels in their fields.

Accordingto Koma, 500 farmers have adopted these techniques, and 50 are convertingtheir fields into a diversified and integrated farm or multi-purpose farm.Using SRI, Koma explained, farmers that traditionally used rain-fed ricefarming can increase their rice yield from one or two tons to as many asthree to six tons per hectare, without depending on the herbicides andpesticides that contribute to environmental degradation.

"Cambodia is heavily dependent on agriculture,"​ Koma said. "We need to finda good solution for small farmers which make up around 85 per cent of thetotal population. The Rice Intensification Programme can be a good solutionfor the highly populated areas in Cambodia and Asia, in which the livelihoodof a lot of people depends on rice."

According to Pretty, an additional challenge to maintaining necessary levelsof food production is the resulting environmental degradation due totraditional agricultural practices.

He cited Argentina as a nation thatencouraged its grain farmers to stop tilling their soil, allowing forserious problems of soil erosion, fertility deterioration, water depletionand contamination and low productivity.Called the "no-till system," the method widely adopted by Argentina wasdesigned and first tested approximately 50 years ago in the United States.

Utilisation of the no-till system has expanded from a mere 3,000 hectares inthe late 1970s to around 13 million hectares in Argentina, now accountingfor about 50 per cent of the lands in agricultural production, said RobertPeiretti, an agricultural engineer in Argentina.

Phrek Gypmnanistiri,director of the Multiple Cropping Center at Chiang Mai University inThailand, discussed the dynamic aspects of land-use changes among thehighland ethnic communities of Northern Thailand to meet household fooddemand and income.

With the introduction of diversified commercial farmingsystems, opium farming has been replaced, improving villager's livelihoodsand income.

Related topics Science

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