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Director General  José Graziano da Silva

"Q&A: Planting the Seeds for Sustainable Development"

UNITED NATIONS, Jun 19 2012 (IPS) - By now, the dilemma is well recognised but hardly solved: as the global population grows, resources become increasingly scarce. Indeed, food production will have to increase by a whopping 60 percent by 2050 in order to meet the future demand for food and agricultural products.

Agricultural practises, naturally, are key to addressing this problem, and as such, play a key role in sustainable development. “We need to save and grow,” says José Graziano da Silva, director-general of the Food and Agriculture organisation of the United Nations (FAO).

Da Silva advocates for farming practises with increased productivity and a reduced environmental impact, such as “no-till farming, conservation agriculture and integrated pest management that allow for productivity increase but with a smaller environmental impact”.

“But we cannot have sustainability only in the production side,” da Silva adds. “We also need to look at food loss and waste. Between production and consumption the world loses or wastes over 1.3 billion tones, the equivalent of one-third of the annual food production.”

While food loss occurs mainly in developing countries and has to do with lack of adequate post-harvest facilities, waste is concentrated in industrialised countries where edible food is thrown away.