2050 targets delaying progress

FOCUSING ON LONG term horizons and 2050 forecasts has allowed governments and other organisations to put off the big, and sometimes difficult decisions, that need making today.


Peter Kendall, president of the National Farmers Union (NFU), used his address at the World Farmers’ Congress in Rome on Friday 8 June, to call upon the world’s farming leaders to work together to find solutions to the huge food production challenges that lie ahead.


Kendall – who was joined by a high profile line-up to answer the question: What tomorrow for today’s farmers? – is expected to push the idea of sustainable intensification.


“Sustainable intensification isn’t a new concept. From speaking to farmers from around the world we know and understand that this is where our challenge lies. Put simply, we need to produce more and impact less,” he said.


That isn’t simple, but putting it off with targets way into the future certainly won’t help meet the challenges ahead, he added.


“What is less clear is that Governments and global decision-makers have a proper understanding of what is needed, by whom, how and at what cost. [The] challenges are fairly well-documented so let’s talk about timescales. To really hammer home the point, as I see it, we have just 13 harvests before we have 500 million more people needing food in Africa alone.


“These are the challenges; working together is the solution. The UK’s Cross-Government Food Research and Innovation Strategy quotes lag periods of 15 to 25 years between research expenditures and widespread implementation at farm level. We must not underestimate that task. The time for just talking has run out.”


Mr Kendall also outlined the three crucial requirements that will ensure farmers and growers continue to deliver across the board. These included more investment in R&D, a better functioning marketplace and supply chain and effective regulation and policy frameworks.