“By 2050 we will need to produce 60 per cent more food (than 2012) to feed a world population of 9.3 billion” wrote José Graziano Da Silva, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
Earlier methods of increasing food output have certainly been successful: cereal crop production, for example, doubled between 1960 and 2000. But the methods chosen during that time were not sustainable. “Collateral damage includes land degradation and deforestation, over-extraction of groundwater, emission of greenhouse gases, loss of biodiversity, and nitrate pollution of water bodies” notes the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
The challenge therefore is to find sustainable ways to increase agricultural production by using techniques that are more in tune with ecosystems and minimizing the use of external inputs such as fertilizers or pesticides.