Food security: a race against time

For every one of our researchers, helping feed our hungry planet is a race against the clock to save lives. Every minute, five children in the world die, because they do not have enough to eat. Simultaneously, mankind increases at a rate of 158 hungry mouths per minute. For their future, we must find new, better ways to produce more food from the land we have.
Food security: a race against time
While population increases, the available farmland is shrinking – today one hectare of farmland needs to feed twice as many people than it did in 1950.

Climate change is another obstacle in our path. In some places, droughts are causing crop failure. Elsewhere, flooding and storms are battering the fields we rely on for food.

Realistically, the only way forward is to produce much more food from what land we have left in a more efficient, sustainable way. For that to happen, crop protection products are crucial. They’ve already proven their value by doubling the yields of crops such as rice, wheat, soybeans, cotton and potatoes. And we know we can take their potential much further. We will leave no viable, sustainable route unexplored in such urgent circumstances.

The world can’t wait

Globally arable land per capita is shrinking
Globally arable land per capita is shrinking
It takes a long time for high-yielding plants to evolve naturally. But it’s time we can’t afford. Instead of waiting, we work constantly to help plants develop at the pace demanded by the world’s hungry people.

A big priority right now: help plants survive the pressure of climate change. While boosting their resistance to bugs and weeds is still vital, we must also help them survive temperature changes and floods.

Research will fuel these advances, so we’ll increase our R&D spend to around 850 million euros in 2015 – 20 per cent more than in 2010.

We’ll focus our efforts on three of the world’s most important broad-acre crops: rice, wheat and soybeans.

Breakthroughs in the name of quality

Vegetable experts
Shoppers and the stores which supply them expect much more from food than they used to. They want nutrient-packed, luscious-looking, long-lasting and varied foods, produced in a sustainable manner which can be tracked down all the way to the farmer. 

Too much to ask? Not for us. Our mission is to keep up with their expectations using breakthrough technologies and working closely with partners along the value chain.

Oilseed rape is a good example. Our InVigor™ hybrid varieties provide shoppers with a very high-quality oil containing a lot more healthy oleic acid and fewer harmful transfatty acids.

We’ve also developed measures to stop food getting contaminated with mycotoxins. It’s a weight off retailers’ minds to know the food in their stores is healthy and safe.

To spur further advances, we’ve opened a new European Wheat Breeding Center in Germany – already buzzing with ideas on using conventional breeding techniques to develop improved plant varieties.

Enhancing the nutritional value of crops

Enhancing the nutritional value of crops

Enhancing the nutritional value of crops

Currently, an estimated two billion people are affected by zinc deficiency, which is one of the causes for growth disorders affecting one child out of three worldwide.

To support the fight against malnutrition and improve food quality, we joined the HarvestPlus program which is supported by the World Bank and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and others. The program aims to fortify staple foods with vital trace elements such as zinc. We are sponsoring the program’s Harvest Zinc project and contributing to it with our fungicide Antracol. Tests have shown that – apart from protecting the plants from disease – the use of Antracol can boost a crop’s zinc uptake: So far, we have seen an increase of zinc in rice of up to 18 percent. Further projects on enhancing the nutritional value of crops are in the planning stage. 

Helping farmers do the right thing

We also work with farmers to help them meet the good agricultural practices set out by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

The FAO calls on farmers and food processors to use all available knowledge to produce food sustainably – both economically, environmentally and socially. For farmers, that means using pesticides sensibly and responsibly. It’s also about respecting the principles involved in integrated crop management.

Do the FAO guidelines mean farmers need to change some of their daily practices around the farm? By sharing our knowledge with them, we can take some of the guesswork and headaches out of the shift to sustainability.

After harvest: the worry’s not over

You’d think one time of the year when farmers could relax would be after the harvest. Sadly not. Even then, they can face losing between 15 and 50 per cent of their yield to pests and disease during storage. This makes the post-harvest period a critical time for food security. It’s certainly a priority for us, as our wide range of post-harvest products and advice programs show.

For example, our Luna™ product family prolongs the time the harvest can be kept in storage, as well as ensuring plant health in the field.
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

Video

How people in megacities are fed
Copyright © Bayer CropScience