CropLife Asia promotes conservation efforts achieved in agriculture

Through the application of plant science technologies, CropLife Asia has realised a number of conservation benefits in agriculture.

With the global population set to hit 9.8 billion by 2050, the need for a safe and sustainable supply of nutritious food to feed more people is a daunting challenge. In 2017, the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) shared data indicating that the number of undernourished people around the world is on the rise – increasing from 777 million in 2015 to 815 million in 2016. Also contained in the FAO findings were troubling indications that food security conditions had worsened in more vulnerable parts of the world – including Western and Southeastern Asia.

As the demand for food grows, so does the role agriculture plays in ensuring its delivery. Unfortunately, estimates suggest agriculture accounts for 70 per cent of global water use – with the World Water Council noting that by 2020, 17 per cent more water would be needed than is available to feed the growing population.

To illustrate the importance of water use in agriculture, it’s estimated that producing one kilogram of rice alone requires 3,400 litres of water. World rice fields consume more than 1.3 billion m³ of water per year, which is 21 per cent of the global water use for crop production. Through an increasing number of advancements, the plant science technologies of crop protection and plant biotechnology are better enabling farmers around the world to engage in water use efficiency.

By reducing weeds’ use of moisture, herbicides are helping farmers produce higher yields with the same amount of water. Meanwhile, new plant biotech traits are being added to crops such as corn, rice, and cotton that will enable crops to use less water and even improve productivity under periods of droughts.

“Water is perhaps our most precious natural resource, and how we work collectively to ensure its conversation is critical to the future of our planet,” Dr Siang Hee Tan, Executive Director of CropLife Asia, said. “The innovations of plant science technology are making a difference, but the larger effort among all food value chain stakeholders and beyond to ensure water is used wisely continues. On behalf of the plant science industry in our region, CropLife Asia stands firm in its commitment to improving the conversation of water use in agriculture.”