Why Do We Need Sustainable Agriculture?
I know that all the family farmers in 1970s used sustainable agriculture methods in Artvin. We were protecting our forest, natural plantation and rotate the crops each year and feed the animals with the annual and prennial crops and forage and protect the biodiversity. We increased the number of the trees in our fields and protect the soil quality and natural habitat. This is a real practical experience when I compare today’s good agricultural practices and it is a valuable know-how in increasing the agricultural output by connecting today’s innovative agribusiness techniques.
Now, let’s look at the future. We will feed 2 million more people in 2050. Demand for food will be more than 70 per cent. This situation creates a question; how can we increase agricultural output?
Clearly , I have to define that agriculture must be environmentally, economically and socially sustainable. This can make a vital contribution to reducing poverty and ensuring food security. Because farming is a key source of income that can help make poverty history and increase the welfare as in our province.
In Asia and Africa today, there are 500 million smallholdings having 2 hectares that provide direct livelihoods for 2 billion people. The best way is to support these smallholders to integrate them into food production chains and helping them in market access and regulatory compliance can foster sustainability in agriculture.
Today, agriculture is the main source of income for more than a third of the world’s population. When we look at the figures in developing countries, agriculture accounts for 29% of GDP and 65% of jobs.
When I visited different rural locations, I see that smallholder farms are an important part of the solution and they must be supported in good agricultural practices, integrated pest management methods, skills development, regulatory compliance, collaboration, technology, innovation, finance and market access to achieve high productivity and economic growth and reducing poverty.When we have applied a sustainable agriculture program in Turkey, we have coordinated and supervised GAP program to supply clean, green and safe fruits, vegetables and grains according to the EU infant food regulations and we were also successful in livestock, poultry and fish farming operations. We collaborated with the farmers, SMEs and Government agencies. So that we created economic growth in the region, welfare to the farmers and increses in exports to the other countries. It was the first in Turkey and real success story in food value chain analysis and development.
According to the researches, if we implement sustainable farming systems in the world, the agricultural production can increase approximately 80 percent in low income countries. This will generate decent income and contribute to economic growth and poverty reduction.
We have to keep in mind that the number of people living in hunger is approaching one billion today. This means that we have to support the sustainable agriculture in the world to prevent the poverty.
Now let’s look at the advantages of the sustainable agriculture:
· Production of the clean, green,safe and healthy food in farms;
· Conservation of the natural resources such as water, soil, plants and air;
· Application of the chemical inputs such as fertilisers and pesticides very judiciously;
· Protection of the biodiversity (habitats, genes, species);
· Improvement in water and nutrient retention, soil conversation, amenity, carbon cyle and carbon storage;
· Prevention and control the greenhouse gases and control of the climate change;
· Creation of economic growth, reduction in poverty and improvement in quality of life;
· Improvement in animal welfare;
· Application and improvement of the clean, green, ethical, safe and nutritive agrifood supply chain system and creation of the local and global market access.
We have to keep in mind that sustainable agricultural value chain development critically depends on the quality of seeds, soil quality, climate, water resources, supply chain capability, management style, technology, market access, regulatory compliance, product portfolio development, skills, finance, customer needs, innovation and marketing strategy, collaboration, networking and effective leadership.