Energy & Environment

Global food security index a call to action

Getty Images

Five years ago, DuPont commissioned the Economist Intelligence Unit to develop the Global Food Security Index (GFSI). While the Index seeks to answer a simple question – how food secure is a country? – in reality, it presents a clarion call to action for governments, farmers, non-governmental organizations and agricultural companies alike. 

The Index findings send a clear message: ending food insecurity is impossible without strong investments in agricultural research and development, outreach and education, and technology transfer.

{mosads}Late last week, the Economist Intelligence Unit released the fifth edition of the Index. The culmination of half a decade of data collection and analysis has revealed impressive progress in improving food security in some countries and regions of the world.  The Index findings also revealed new challenges presented by disturbing trends such as climate change, unrest and burgeoning populations.

We’ve all read the statistics – one in nine people around the world are undernourished. Continued increases in greenhouse gas emissions could increase the number of people at risk of undernourishment by as many as 175 million people by 2080.

The World Bank estimates that climate change could drive more than 100 million additional people into poverty by 2030. Extreme weather events could lead to crop yield losses as high as 5 percent by 2030 and 30 percent by 2080, which would drive up food prices and further exacerbate food insecurity challenges in the world’s most vulnerable places. 

Ending food insecurity is closely linked to reducing poverty and fighting climate change. The three can be more effectively achieved – and perhaps they can only be achieved – if addressed together.

Data from the Index corroborate those statistics. Countries that have invested in infrastructure, financing and policy-based food-security and nutrition initiatives have made the greatest steps forward in terms of food security in the past five years. Particularly developing economies that have invested in infrastructure – storing, processing and moving food from where it is grown to those who need to eat – are better positioned to ensure food security for a growing population in the long run. 

Over three-quarters of the countries in the 2016 GFSI have experienced food security improvements over the past five years. Yet, food security in countries that are less able to make these sorts of investments, for reasons related to economic instability, national unrest or prolonged and compounding severe weather events, have suffered over the past five years. 

Pressures on systems that support food security even in the most developed countries are growing. With limited opportunities for new land to be put into production, the world will need increased productivity on every acre to meet the demand for more and better food by an increasingly urban and middle-class population.

That’s why DuPont is deeply invested in building resiliency in food systems around the world. Meeting the needs of the growing global population – and the need for tools that can help farmers grow more nutritious food to feed us all – is at the heart of our business.  

To help achieve this goal, we’ve committed $10 billion to research and development and the introduction of 4,000 new products by the end of 2020. 

And, we’re at work with farmers on the ground in many countries, too. For example, the Rice Farm Schools program in India, a collaboration of DuPont and the Uttar Pradesh Department of Agriculture, is contributing to better yields and greater productivity for about 15 percent of the country’s rice production. DuPont helps Ukrainian agriculture students receive training in the United States on seed production, marketing and research and development.

Our investment in innovation supported farmers in the 20th century as they increased agricultural productivity by more than 12 times between 1950 and 2000. We’ll be there with the innovation needed to rise to the 21st century challenge of increasing productivity by 60 percent between the mid-2000’s and 2050 in order to feed an expected 9 billion people.

The pressure of climate change means that we have a small window of opportunity to achieve our food security objectives, but they are achievable if we make the right investments in agricultural research and development now. Working in partnership with governments, non-governmental organizations and farmers, I’m confident in our ability to do so. 

Collins is executive vice president with responsibility for the DuPont Agriculture segment: DuPont Pioneer and Crop Protection. After the completion of the proposed merger of equals between DuPont and Dow, Mr. Collins will become the chief operating officer for the DowDuPont agriculture business. The merger is expected to close in the second half of 2016.

Tags Agriculture Global Food Index Government Industrial agriculture
See all Hill.TV See all Video