14 November 2010

Top 100 Questions for Global Agriculture

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'A new paper, published in the International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability, identifies the top 100 questions for the future of global agriculture.

Despite a significant growth in food production over the past half-century, one of the most important challenges facing society today is how to feed an expected population of some 9 billion by the middle of this century. To meet expected demand for food without significant increases in prices it has been estimated that the world needs to produce 70-100% more food. A multi-disciplinary and team of 55 agricultural and food experts from the world’s major agricultural organisations, professional scientific societies, and academic institutions was appointed to identify the top 100 questions for global agriculture and food. Some of the most pressing questions include:

What will be the risk of mass migration arising from adverse climate change, and how will this impact on agricultural systems? · How can intensive livestock systems be designed to minimise the spread of infectious diseases amongst animals and the risk of the emergence of new diseases infecting humans?

How much can agricultural education, extension, farmer mobilisation and empowerment be achieved by the new opportunities afforded by mobile phone and web-based technologies?

Who will be farming in 2050, and what will be their land relationships?

If addressed and answered, it is anticipated that these questions will have a significant impact on global agricultural practices worldwide. They offer policy and funding organisations an agenda for change. The questions are wide-ranging, are designed to be answerable and capable of realistic research design.

Professor Jules Pretty of the University of Essex, lead author and Editor in Chief of the journal said:

“The challenges facing world agriculture are unprecedented, and are likely to magnify with pressures on resources and increasing consumption. What is unique here is that experts from many countries, institutions and disciplines have agreed on the top 100 questions that need answering if agriculture is to succeed this century. These questions now form the potential for driving research systems, private sector investments, NGO priorities, and UN projects and programmes.”

This research was funded by the UK Government’s Foresight Global Food and Farming Futures project.'

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