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Farmers Who Adopt Technologies Can Grow More, Researchers Say



Published on 13 February 2014



by Kathryn McConnell

(WireNews)

Washington, D.C.

Farmers who grown maize, wheat and rice can significantly boost their production and feed more people if they adopt one or more improved agricultural practices identified by a leading U.S. agricultural research center.

“No single agricultural technology or farming practice will provide sufficient food for the world in 2050,” said Mark Rosegrant, lead author of a new report from the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in Washington. Rosegrant measured the impacts that agricultural innovations have on farm productivity, prices and hunger. He said that instead “we must advocate for and utilize a range of these technologies in order to maximize yields.”

In Food Security in a World of Growing Natural Resource Scarcity: The Role of Agricultural Technologies, released February 12 in Washington, Rosegrant states that no-till farming alone could increase maize yields by 20 percent and that irrigating the same fields could increase yields by 67 percent.

Unless improved practices are adopted, he writes, maize production could decrease by 18 percent by 2050, making it more difficult to feed a growing population. Rosegrant added that technologies can keep the costs of food down, especially for those at risk of hunger and malnutrition in developing countries. The world’s population is expected to grow from 7 billion in 2011 to more than 9 billion by 2050, while farmers face climate change and dwindling supplies of arable land and water, he says.

“The future technology mix will have major impacts on agricultural production, food consumption, food security, trade and environmental quality in developing countries,” he says.

The report urges more support for agricultural research and for helping farmers learn how to use improved technologies like no-till, as well as drip and sprinkler irrigation. Drip irrigation is water applied in small amounts directly around each plant. Sprinkler irrigation is water delivered to crops by means of pressurized pipes.

The report also focuses on the improved technologies of drought- and heat-tolerant seeds, and seeds that better respond to fertilizer; harvesting water for agriculture; and improved management of pests, diseases and weeds. It also states that technologies that reduce water use and nitrogen runoff are important to minimize agriculture’s impact on the environment.

The research by Rosegrant and his colleagues was funded by the U.S. Department of State, the global federation CropLife International and CGIAR, formerly known as the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research.

The report is available on the IFPRI website.




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Posted 2014-02-13 09:26:00