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FAO’s da Silva: no more business as usual for agri

Speaking at the Global Forum for Food and Agriculture in Berlin, FAO’s director-general called for a widespread transition into sustainable farming globally.

Global agriculture can no longer operate using a “business as usual” approach if it is to feed the world by 2050, Jose Graziano da Silva, FAO’s director-general, told delegates at the Global Forum for Food and Agriculture in Berlin.

“Business as usual would mean a huge and simultaneous increase in the need for food, energy and water in the next decades: 60 percent more food, 50 percent more energy and 40 percent more water by 2050,” he told the audience last week.

Instead, investment is needed to support the widespread transition of farming systems into sustainable land management practices that use less water, land and energy, he said. There is also added competition from other non-food agricultural products such as bio-energy.

“But it is important not to forget that biofuel emerged with strength as an alternative energy source because of the need to mitigate fossil fuel production and greenhouse gases – and that need has not changed,” he said. “We need to move from the food versus fuel debate to a food and fuel debate. There is no question: food comes first.”

While biofuel production can create risks, they can also provide an alternative source of income for farmers, he added.