Sep. 1, 2017
Europe will remain an important supplier of agricultural goods in the future but the greatest untapped potential lies in Africa, which could become the “bread basket” for the rest of the world, the president of Yara, a multinational fertiliser and crop nutrition company, told EURACTIV.
Svein Tore Holsether also said digital technologies like precision farming were the best way to boost agricultural production.
“While we still see the potential for increasing productivity and sustainability of European agriculture, the greatest potential we see is in Africa,” Holsether pointed out.
“Today €29.6bn ($35bn) is spent every year on importing food, while there is a great untapped potential for higher productivity as the continent holds 65% of the world’s arable land,” the fertiliser company boss said.
For Holsether, a key challenge is to make African smallholders more productive and sustainable, something he said will take time.
“This will have a tremendous impact on food security and rural development on the continent, but will also mean that Africa can play a role as a bread basket for the rest of the world,” he said, adding that European agriculture will still play a key role in the future of world farming.
The UN projects that the global population will rise to more than 9.7 billion in 2050 and exceed 11.2 billion by 2100, which will call for a dramatic increase in food production.
This is the main argument of the agri-food industry, which has expanded its activities across the world, focusing on densely populated and “forgotten” agricultural markets, like those in Asia and Africa.
Via partnerships with smallholders who follow specific sustainable cultivation protocols, big agri-food multinationals are trying out solutions to feed a fast-growing population, while keeping climate change in check.