The Private Sector Mechanism (PSM) at the FAO's Committee on World Food Security (CSF) has circulated a video to the Rome representatives of FAO member states with comments by MAIZALL Director Paulo Bertolini. Paulo discusses the role of technology and innovation on his farm and the importance of science-based decision-making to underpin stable and barrier free trade and food security. Paulo Bertolini is a 4th generation farmer in Parana, in the South of Brazil. He is a Director of Abramilho and of MAIZALL. A summary of his observations can be found below.
International trade and the smooth functioning of markets are essential to ensure that crops and food products can move from areas with surplus to areas with disabilities or needs. In the case of corn and soybeans, there is surplus production in South America and North America, but there is a need for this vegetable protein for animal feed in Europe and Asia. Tariffs and regulatory rules are often barriers to this trade - for example, because the procedures for approving new products in importing countries are very slow. In that case, farmers are NOT able to use the best and most efficient production methods and technologies available and this has a negative impact on food security. The importance of barrier-free trade was highlighted during the current Covid pandemic.
Farmers use technology to increase production and reduce costs. The increase in productivity (production per hectare) allows countries to produce more food in the same area or even less space. This is important in view of food security, in particular because of the growth of the world population (10 billion by 2050), and also to control and reduce CO2 emissions. Increasing productivity also helps to keep food costs under control, which is particularly important for those who are not food secure. Examples of technologies that increase productivity are improved seeds, new equipment, digital agriculture, etc.
In Paraná, farmers can now harvest two or three crops a year in the same area. Improved seeds allow me to do no-till, which brings important benefits to soil quality (less erosion, more earthworms) and fewer passages with my machinery (fuel economy).
Tighter integration between crops, livestock and forests helps farmers to produce food in a more sustainable way and to develop local communities and regions. In my state, Paraná, this integration led to the creation of local food processing industries (such as dairy and meat). This improved local livelihoods and, therefore, the nutrition of the population. Integration with forestry has enabled the production of wood, paper, but also renewable energy (electricity is used to supply local food processing plants). This integration was possible due to a combination of factors: the right soil, climate, technology, farmers' experience and market for their products. Again, it is important to note that this means local, regional, national AND international markets - which brings me back to the importance of international trade.