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By 2050, the world is expected to add 3 billion more people who need access to quality and nutritious food. However, today, the UN estimates that there are already 800 million people who do not have access to enough food.
Coupled with climate variability and evolving pest and disease pressures, we know that maintaining the status quo in agriculture and the food value chain is not enough. We have the opportunity and the responsibility to grasp this moment, and to help move humanity forward by working together in a multi-stakeholder environment to shape a food system that is better for farmers, consumers and the planet.
4 people per second
are born every day
10 billion people
will live on earth by 2050
70% increase in food production
to support the population by 2050
Fulfilling this vision—now and in the decades to come—will not be a simple task, but we’re devoted, together with our partners, to sharing knowledge and to innovating so that the future of agriculture can flourish. To satisfy a growing population in a safe and sustainable way will require Bayer to fundamentally re-imagine what it means to be an agriculture company. Fortunately, we have a blueprint to guide us. When population growth raised concerns of a global famine in the 1960s, Dr. Norman Borlaug led the Green Revolution by introducing modern agricultural practices to developing countries—saving an estimated one billion people from starvation. Fifty years later, we know that further innovation is crucial for addressing agriculture’s challenges.
Making better use of our land
Most of the world’s suitable farmland is already being used. Populations are growing and need land to live and work, while agriculture faces the challenge of not only growing enough in the next 30 years, but doing so on less land than it uses today. This means that we need to make better use of the land that we do have, while ensuring that we safeguard biodiversity and our natural resources.
By improving the ability of farmers to produce a successful crop we are helping to ensure a consistent, nutritious and stable food supply for communities around the world. We are developing seeds that can thrive even in adverse or unpredictable environmental conditions, which can enhance farmers’ abilities to successfully cultivate crops despite droughts, flooding, or increased pest pressures brought about by climate change.
One way this comes to life is through our collaborative work in sub-Saharan Africa on Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA). WEMA is a multi-stakeholder partnership aimed at improving food security and livelihoods among smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa by combating the impacts of droughts and insects on maize crops, which is the main source of food for more than 300 million Africans. Bayer’s contributions include providing the drought-tolerant and insect-resistance traits on a royalty-free basis, together with research and technical expertise, for the WEMA partnership to develop and deploy locally adapted maize hybrids for all seed companies in Africa to sell to smallholder farmers.
Another great innovation in seed technology is Arize, a first-of-its-kind hybrid rice seed which we launched in 2018 in India. Arize has been bred with resistance against Brown Plant Hopper and Bacterial Leaf Blight diseases, which both cause huge crop losses. Another Arize rice variety that can survive more than 15 days under a sustained flood was introduced in Bangladesh, where frequent flooding has a serious impact on farmers’ rice harvests.
The big promise of supporting smallholders
Our challenges are global—and we can’t solve them unless we think inclusively. This is particularly true in regard to supporting smallholder farmers. Despite producing roughly 80% of the food in developing countries, most have historically been unable to use or access the advanced tools and technologies that are more widely available to farmers in other parts of the world. Bayer’s food security initiatives are critical and collaborations to sustainably improve the lives of smallholder farmers are at the heart of our work in agriculture.
We are creating digital tools that can diagnose crop pests, lend agronomic advice, or even help sell harvests at a fair market price—all within a single smartphone. And in communities around the world, together with partners such as non-governmental and international development organizations, we’re advancing initiatives that will contribute to food security.
Our collaboration with Solidaridad, one of the most globally recognized international NGOs working to integrate smallholder farmers into sustainable agricultural value chains, is connecting thousands of smallholder sugarcane farmers to mills in Mexico and Central America. By providing these farmers with access to knowledge, technology and innovation, complemented by trainings in good agricultural practices and environmental stewardship, we are helping to set the foundation for improved livelihoods, food security, integrated landscape management, and climate change resilience.
With the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), one of the most prominent and reputable multilateral agricultural development organizations in Latin America, our partnership agreement focuses on, among other areas, some of the key elements of food security:
Empowering small-scale producers
Promoting good agricultural practices through demonstration plots
Fostering youth leadership
More specifically, IICA is hosting our online BayG.A.P. service program on their e-learning platform, opening access to the power of knowledge for potentially millions of smallholder farmers across the continent. BayG.A.P. is a series of modules developed by Bayer to enable producers to implement a sustainable model that provides socio-economic benefits, guarantees the safety and quality of production, and generates opportunities to access markets. IICA is also supporting the next generation of farmers to prepare for their contribution to food security by providing mentoring to delegates of the Bayer Youth Ag Summit.
Together our food security initiatives are helping smallholders approach the unique challenges and opportunities of their unique environment, and to sustainably cultivate their crops.
Improving access to quality, nutritious foods
To build a healthier future for all, we need to think beyond increasing simply humanity’s access to calories, but also to improving access to enough quality and nutritious foods. Today, most types of fruits and vegetables come in dozens (or even thousands) of different varieties, with the ability to resist specific threats, like disease, or to thrive in a certain climate (e.g. cooler temperatures with a short growing season, or hot and prone to drought conditions).
In addition to plant breeding technologies, we also work with stakeholders across the entire food chain through our Food Chain Partnership program. This innovative collaboration model brings together farmers, food exporters and importers, processors, and retailers to work on tailored crop solutions that range from enhancing product quality and harvests to improving the traceability of food.
A global roundtable
Food security is one of the crucial challenges defining the 21st century—one that will require everyone to do their part to find new ways to push past the impossible. We all share a stake in building a better food system, from farmers who are using innovative new tools to cultivate more successful crops in sustainable ways to consumers making informed choices about how we nourish our bodies. Many of the tools and technologies we will need in the future have yet to be invented so we’re also building meaningful partnerships with leading international development organizations, universities, public research institutes, non-profits, visionary companies, and science innovation centers to share resources and ideas that will help us all shape the future of agriculture.