A new study published in Nature Food revealed that more than a third of global greenhouse gas emissions come from the production, distribution and consumption of food, underscoring the need for new, sustainable technologies in the industry.
Jamie Adams, the senior adviser for international affairs in the office of the chief scientist at the U. S. Department of Agriculture, said that the role of technology in agriculture is twofold during a virtual panel on solutions for a food-secure future hosted by Foreign Policy magazine in partnership with the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates.
Adams said the role of science and technology in agriculture cannot be stressed enough “if we’re to achieve our ambitious goals that include food systems that are to provide safe, nutritious, affordable and accessible food for all, while also enhancing economic viability of farming, advancing equitable livelihoods across food systems and conserving natural resources and addressing the climate crisis.”
Some goals that Hana al-Hashimi, the head of the office of the UAE Special Envoy for Climate Change, highlighted for sustainable solutions in agriculture are developing technologies that can maximize yields, optimizing resources and reducing carbon emissions.
“We want to see renewable energy displace hydrocarbon energy in every segment of the food value chain, from water pumping to refrigeration,” she said. “And we want to develop foods that require minimal amounts of land and water.”
She also cited vertical farming, a method that does not require sunlight, soil or water, as a way to produce food without causing detrimental effects on the environment.
Although the agriculture industry helps fuel climate change and innovations are required to mitigate the impacts of farming on the environment, farmers suffer as a result of rapidly changing conditions on our planet, too – evidenced by the most recent drought in California which forced farmers to sell their livestock, and the floods in China, which wiped out pigs in farms across Henan.
Ruramiso Mashumba – a Zimbabwe-based commercial farmer and the founder of Mnandi Africa, an organization that helps rural women combat poverty by equipping them with skills and knowledge in agriculture – highlighted the challenges Zimbabwe’s changing climate poses to farmers.
“Just like the rest of the globe, we’re dealing with climate change that’s affecting our productivity,” she said during the panel discussion. “But also more so than that we are in a very arid environment. And we have much more limited arable and permanent cropland than the rest of the world and import dependence is quite large here.”
A Guest Editorial