precluded. Recent and current debate surrounding recent food price volatility and the impact of climate change on the future food supplies makes the topic very timely and important.
The overall objective of the second workshop was to identify (i) the major barriers to expanding food production to meet future food demand without damaging the future productive capacity and (ii) policy, technology and governance interventions that could reduce these barriers and promote sustainable food availability as a basic pillar of sustainable food security. The second workshop involved a diverse set of participants: researchers, analysts, academics, and development leaders in a wide range of fields—food production, resource management, environmental conservation, climate, and others. Per Pinstrup-Andersen highlighted several themes elucidated during the workshop discussions. For example, although food supplies must be expanded to meet increasing demand arising from population growth and rising incomes, this increase in food supplies could—but may not—be done sustainably. While there was no agreement on how much future food prices would change, continued price volatility is expected. Most participants noted that the increase in production could come from more efficient use of land, water and labor. Sustainable intensification—increasing productivity without damaging the productive capacity of natural resources—is likely to be far more important, according to many participants, than the expansion of land devoted to agriculture. As much as 70 to 85 percent of the needed increase in production is likely to come from intensification. The remaining production increases may come from expanding land use sometime into areas poorly suited for agriculture, with serious environmental consequences. Some participants noted that additional research is warranted in order to reduce yield gaps and lift yield ceilings.
Many workshop participants stressed the importance of farm-level intensification and improvements in soil quality and fertility. Lower levels of soil fertility are a particular problem in Sub-Saharan Africa, where soils have been severely mined over time. It is also important to recognize and manage critical ecosystem services and the need to internalize ecological costs. Many participants noted that such costs, as well as benefits, should be factored into prices to assure sustainable food supplies.
Most workshop participants recognized the potential value of agro-ecological systems in reducing or avoiding continued natural resource degradation. However, adhering to the organic farming practices as defined in the United States and EU cannot provide the needed productivity increases. And if pursued on a scale needed to meet today’s demand, such practices would have significant environmental ramifications. Furthermore, organic production methods may result in larger emission of greenhouse gases. Most participants thought that farmers should consider using all scientifically viable methods, including GMOs (genetically modified organisms). Most participants stressed the need for investments in public goods, especially rural infrastructure (e.g., roads that would support expanding) and more efficient supply chains, and they also emphasized the importance of securing property rights for family farms. The private sector was seen by many to have a critical role in providing tools, new technologies and investments in the agricultural sector.
There was considerable discussion about the importance of reducing post harvest wastes and losses, estimated to be as high as 30-40 percent of production, as a strategy to sustainably expand food supplies. A few participants suggested a number of ways to reduce these losses, noting that opportunities will vary by crop and by location.
Participants also stressed the importance of understanding and adapting to climate change. Many noted that the effects of climate change are already being seen, with significant warming in many regions and changes in precipitation making it more difficult to increase