Robert Saik’s address to the FAO_UN Committee for World Food Security at the High-Level Special Event, Rome (Virtually), Oct 15, 2020
Honorable delegates – greetings from the Private Sector Mechanism on this Rural Woman’s Day.
COVID 19 creates an opportunity for the public and private sectors to work together in new ways to address global food security.
My work as an agronomist and agriculture entrepreneur has been to help farmers increase soil health while increasing profitability; for without farm profitability you have NO sustainability. I personally know of many families who have been farming the same land for 100 years or more. To me, these are shining examples of sustainability and I do not know why these modern farms are being misunderstood as somehow being unsustainable.
Sustainability is a moving target and is achieved by us learning and un-learning and re-learning what works and does not work on the farm. It is about recognizing that in each farming philosophy there are scientific principles that should be adopted and others that should be left behind.
We need to recognize that practices that have fed a population of past will not be adequate to feed the population of the future.
Soil cultivation for example leads to soil degradation. Soil health is key to agriculture resilience and food security. In Canada, the US, and especially Argentina, I have witnessed the implementation of zero tillage techniques that result in increased yields, profitability, carbon sequestration and soil health.
Well managed farms and ranches implement a wide variety of technologies that increase sustainability including soil testing, sensor integration, digitization of data, remote sensing, precision application of crop inputs and even robotics.
Passionate private sector people work every day to collaborate with farmers to leverage technology to solve problems. For example, my company has created a platform to provide instantaneous connectivity between farmers and agronomic experts who can now be on the farm without being on the farm.
It is through the implementation of sound agronomics that we can address issues of malnutrition.
Issues such as Zinc and Mycotoxins.
Soils deficient in zinc result in stunted crops and stunted human beings. There is no philosophy that will create more zinc in soils. Only by adding zinc will you grow better crops and healthier humans.
Speaking of health, mycotoxins are organic toxins produced by molds and fungus that ravage crops. Mycotoxins are the #1 Food Killer and a major cause of liver cancer in humans. Mycotoxin infected foods affects billions of humans and are attributed to the death of millions of people annually.
COVID has put a spotlight on agriculture. As public and private partners let us concentrate on science-based outcomes by agronomically addressing issues that will increase farm prosperity and food security for all.