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Global population expected to be 9 billion in 2050. How will agricultural systems cope?

Professor Michael Winter spoke at Wilton Park's fifth conference in the series 'Global agriculture, food and land use: the international policy challenges'. The theme of this conference was ‘How to create resilient agricultural systems in a world of increasing resource scarcity and climate change'

The conference focussed on how to ensure long-term sustainability of agricultural production, looking at how to husband and adapt the use of inputs and farming approaches to cope with the changing dynamics of increasing global population, dietary changes and climate change.

Professor Winter's presentation looked at the challenges facing global agricultural production and the consequences of not meeting those challenges such as unacceptable suffering in the developing world, mass migration and major shifts in the balance of power and influence. He compared examples of cereal yields alongside the current need for higher inputs of fertiliser. He also suggested a range of changes to agricultural systems which included smarter, more energy-efficient machines, development of plant breeds less dependent upon fertilisers/pesticides as well as addressing the social dimensions, e.g. resilient and purposive agricultural populations. He concluded that alongside resilient farming systems, resilient supply chains and resilient international relations were also needed.

The Conference was held in association with the University of Exeter with support from Associated British Foods. 
Held over three days, speakers came from around the globe and represented government organisations, charities, universities, farming unions, farmers and a London restaurant. A full programme can be downloaded here.

17 April 2013