Feeding the world is a very complex problem. Are we really up for the challenge?

I had a very inspiring week which began with the PICCC Think Tank on sustainable intensification.

Double Food Production

warning signs

Energy

Sustainable Intensification (SI) is of great interest to me because it is potentially an ideal scenario for high rainfall, highly fertile soil farms in high amenity value land pockets like this one.

The presentations which you can find here provided fascinating insights into what farmers who wanted to travel the path of SI could aspire too.

I was lucky enough at lunch to sit next to the man who first coined the SI phrase Professor Tim Reeves whose presentation you can find here

Professor Reeves uses the Oxford University definition of SI

“The goal of sustainable intensification is to increase food production from existing farmland while minimising pressure on the environment. It is a response to the challenges of increasing demand for food from a growing global population, in a world where land, water, energy and other inputs are in short supply, overexploited and used unsustainably. Any efforts to ‘intensify’ food production must be matched by a concerted focus on making it ‘sustainable.’ Failing to do so will undermine our capacity to continue producing food in the future.

As Nick Rose from Fair Food Farmers United reminded me this week the complex problems of feeding the world will not all be solved by producing more food. Good article here 

I caught up with Cathy Phelps from Dairy Australia for coffee the following day. Cathy is Dairy Australia’s Natural Resource Management Program Manager and she has possibly  seen every farming system and as diverse array of farmers  ( including those of David Lord’s See slide 9 here )  that exists. Cathy shared this great quote from Sir John Beddington, UK Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser with me

‘we should not promote ideologies, like ‘organic’ farming and instead focus on evidence based information to identify sustainable farming practices

“… instead of continuing the ideologically charged ‘organic versus conventional’ debate, we should systematically evaluate the costs and benefits of different management options. In the end, to achieve sustainable food security we will probably need many different techniques—including organic, conventional, and possible ‘hybrid’ systems—to produce more food at affordable prices, ensure livelihoods for farmers, and reduce the environmental costs of agriculture

Again I ask the farming community can we stop focusing on whose system is best and celebrate all the great farmers out there and work with the rest of the world to reduce the horrendous and heartbreaking problem of food waste.

Food Waste

Pictures are from Professor Reeves presentation See here   

There was also a lot of discussion about building capacity in farmers and the difficulties of even starting to have discussion with us about this.

Building Farmer Capacity  

Slide Source here 

It is very often said by many people too many of us over estimate how good our  farming practices are and our financial literacy is.  I will blog about that shortly if I am game