Progress made in global food security, but challenges are ahead

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The DuPont Advisory Committee on Agricultural Innovation & Productivity issued an updated progress report on the global food and nutrition landscape, highlighting substantial gains in global food production rates, improvements in nutritional quality, and advances in eradicating extreme hunger and poverty, while also acknowledging that serious challenges remain.

DuPont convened the Advisory Committee in 2010 to explore in depth the global issues affecting food and nutrition security. Chaired by former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, the Advisory Committee brings together a group of experts in global agriculture development, science, policy and economics. 

Since its initial report in 2011, the committee has monitored global progress on food and nutrition security issues and explored three aspects in greater depth – the role of technology and innovation in agriculture, opportunities for advancing nutrition security, and the need for environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable agricultural systems.

Among its key findings, the committee concluded that in the short period since 2011, the world has made significant progress toward eradicating extreme hunger and poverty:

  • Developing countries have managed to reach the point of nearly halving the proportion of those suffering from hunger. 
  • At current rates, the prevalence of undernourishment in developing regions is expected to fall to 13 percent by 2015, or half the rate from 1990 to 1992.
  • From an efficiency perspective, global agricultural productivity is currently on track to meet the greater global food demand.
  • Ongoing trade negotiations hold the promise of enabling increased movement of food around the world.
  • Enhanced public-private sector collaborations are creating new, sustainable models for improving the livelihood of smallholder farmers. 

Despite this progress, the committee stressed that critical challenges remain, with one in eight people remaining undernourished.  Continued challenges include:

  • Providing all available tools to farmers.
  • Building sustainable agricultural systems.
  • Empowering women farmers with resources, such as land and technical training.

Toward this end, the report stressed two themes as critical to food and nutrition security – the central role of farmers and giving them access to key technologies; and the need for a comprehensive and collaborative approach across multiple partners and sectors.

“The committee applauds the progress made to date, but a range of issues still need to be addressed, from ensuring farmers have access to all tools to improve productivity to building sustainable agricultural systems,” said Senator Daschle. “We’re already seeing public-private partnerships working to develop innovative, scalable food security solutions, and we must continue to foster these creative collaborations if we are to continue to build on this progress.”

DuPont Executive Vice President James C. Borel said, “We’re optimistic about the improvements in the global food and nutrition security landscape, driven in part by a higher prioritization from major global governing bodies, greater awareness of the underlying factors through new measurement tools and increased innovations and youth engagements. However, we still have a long way to go, and we must continue to support smallholder and women farmers, protect natural resources and expand initial successes to a larger scale.”

The DuPont Advisory Committee on Agricultural Innovation and Productivity is a group of experts in global agriculture development, science, policy, and economics. The Committee includes former Senator Tom Daschle (chair); Jason Clay, senior vice president of Market Transformation at the World Wildlife Fund; Charlotte Hebebrand, director general of the International Fertilizer Industry Association; Jo Luck, former president and CEO of Heifer International and World Food Prize Laureate; Ruth Oniang’o, founder and director of the Rural Outreach Africa; J.B. Penn, chief economist for Deere & Co.; and Pedro Sanchez, director of the Agriculture and Food Security Center at The Earth Institute, Columbia University and World Food Prize Laureate.

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