Climate summit: Netherlands launches global alliance for greater food security

The Netherlands used the UN Climate Summit in New York on 23 September 2014 to launch a global alliance for greater food security through climate-smart agriculture. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Minister for Agriculture Sharon Dijksma joined forces to launch the alliance, which is now backed by 75 countries and organisations such as the World Bank. World leaders including President Obama and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also support this initiative. By 2050 we will need to feed a world population of 9 billion people. Continuation of the current production levels will lead to a food shortage of 70%.

Agriculture as the food engine

“It is unacceptable that there are still close to one billion people going to bed hungry every night,” Minister Dijksma said. “Agriculture has the power to be the food engine that changes this, simply by providing farmers worldwide with the right knowledge and the right tools. I am therefore proud that 75 countries and world leaders want to join forces to fight for greater food security. And of course it’s even better that the Netherlands, as a global player in agriculture, is leading the effort.”

Cooperation between science, government and the business community

The alliance will adopt an approach developed in the Netherlands: Climate Smart Agriculture. Agriculture is key in this approach in continuing to guarantee food security by drawing on the experience of business, science and government, in partnership with local farmers, to develop innovative and sustainable production methods that are also more resilient to climate change, while at the same time reducing CO2 emissions.

Agricultural training programmes

Several projects have already been set up globally. In Africa and Asia, in particular, where population growth rates are highest, the extreme weather with extensive periods of drought often has a huge impact on agricultural yields. The alliance addresses this by working with experts and the business community to set up initiatives such as training farms and agricultural training programmes.

Sustainable production

These initiatives enable potato and wheat farmers, for example, to employ sustainable production methods that are more resilient to drought and disease. At present, these farmers are still using low-quality seeds or varieties that are outdated or unsuited to the local soil conditions. The result is low yields and heavy use of expensive crop protection products. The initiatives also train local farmers how to plant trees in a smart, climate-resilient manner and how to recognise plant and crop diseases. Effective storage methods to combat food waste, efficient logistics and marketing are also covered.

The intention of the alliance is to expand and intensify the projects carried out by small farmers, horticultural growers and fishermen, and to continue to guarantee food safety through targeted public-private partnerships.