Investing in research directed at the needs of smallholder farmers is key to meeting the world food needs, Paul E. Schickler, president, DuPont business Pioneer Hi-Bred, told attendees during the Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries.

“All farmers need to succeed if we are to meet the world’s demands,” said Schickler. “We have found that working with farmers and their local communities to understand their unique challenges is critical to getting them the right tools and technology to help close the production gap and, in turn, achieve food security.”

In addition to seed research, Schickler called for investment in areas of agronomic training, infrastructure and market access, as well as credit and financing.

DuPont invested more than half of its $1.7 billion research and development budget in 2010 on increasing food production.

“Today’s challenge presents a real opportunity for the public and private sectors to intensify collaboration and bring impactful solutions to farmers,” said Schickler. “To be successful, we need to take a holistic approach and go beyond the development of new seed varieties and technologies if solutions are to be economically, socially and environmentally sustainable.”

About one-third of the world’s farmers, some 450 million people, can benefit from a new green revolution that addresses the needs of Least Developed Countries. With only manual farming implements and little or no access to fertilizer or other modern inputs, there are some areas that attain only 20 percent of the yields that are achieved by farmers in the developed world.

Projections indicate that agriculture production will need to essentially double over the next 40 years to meet the challenge of feeding 9 billion people expected in the world at that time. This increase in production will need to take place as arableland and other resources shift, stay the same, or in some cases, decline.