Future of Agriculture: Online Discussion blog channel

Woman filling a jerry can with water, Tanzania

An agriculture that is resilient and sustainable, and provides sufficient safe, affordable food for all, will be built on four cornerstones: comparative advantage, open trade, markets that work for both producers and consumers, and an African continent that contributes positively to food production.

By Harold Poelma, Managing Director of Cargill Refined Oils Europe

Milagros Villagas Nima, 17, picks corn in her back yard, Tambogrande, Peru. Photo: Gilvan Barreto/Oxfam

Indigenous farming could become a motor for conserving biodiversity, promoting ancestral knowledge crucial for climate adaptation, and building alternative development models based on local markets. That is, if communities can hold the water-hogging mining companies at bay.

By Alexis Nicolás Ibáñez Blancas, Researcher at Universidad Nacional Agraria La Molina 

Farmers listen to a lecture on sustainable farming techniques, Nigeria. Image: Oxfam

The fundamental problem for both female and male smallholders is the size of their farms. They are simply too small to generate an acceptable livelihood. An incorporated farm model could overcome many of the current obstacles and be the farming system of the future.

By Nicko Debenham, Director, Development & Sustainability at Armajaro Trading Ltd.

Farmer, is selling her products at Kungyangone market. Image: Oxfam

The challenges faced by biodiversity-based ecological agriculture are not primarily technical but political. Evidence from three countries shows farming without fossil fuels works. But such methods will only be adopted widely once we prevail over the political power of agribusiness.

By Sarojeni V. Rengam, Executive Director of the Pesticide Network Asia and the Pacific.

A woman hand watering her onion patch with a watering can. Image: Oxfam

Agriculture that uses less fossil fuel must be pursued actively. Renewable fuels, reduced waste and losses, and energy from farm by-products are all solutions that would allow for increased food supplies, while addressing climate change.

By José Graziano da Silva, Director General of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO).

Lettuce seedlings. Image: Oxfam

We mustn’t allow emotions to cloud our understanding of fundamental natural laws. To feed a world of 9 billion people without chemical fertilizers would irreparably damage biodiversity. Let’s reduce fertilizer overuse in China and shift that to Africa, where lack of fertilizer is a major cause of hunger.

By Prem Bindraban, Director of ISRIC (World Soil Information)

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