How to feed 9 billion people?

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[:is]In 2050, the demand for food will increase by 60% above current levels, a demand that will have to be met, and where all the links in the agri-food chain have a lot to say, from the producer sector to the consumer himself. 

The latest reports from the UN - FAO predict rapid population growth in the coming decades, mainly due to the increase in life expectancy, which is linked to better sanitary conditions throughout the world. Thus, they estimate that In 2030, with the current population growth rate, there will be 8,501 million people on the face of the earth, a figure that will increase to 9,275 million in 2050 and to 11,213 million in 2100.

This level of growth will mean that in 2050 the world demand for food will increase by 60% compared to today, a demand that will have to be given food, and not only that, but to produce this food conserving natural resources and in a framework characterized by a climate that is already changing and affecting agricultural and livestock production throughout the entire earth surface.

It seems like a difficult goal, and it would be difficult if all this change had to be done by farmers and ranchers, but it is a problem that concerns the entire agri-food chain, from the farmer to the consumer.

Farmers-scientists, a necessary synergy

At present, such a quantity of food is produced that it could supply all of humanity, but there are still 800 million hungry people in the worldWe might think that farmers and ranchers around the world are doing their job well, and that the problem lies in the distribution of food, which is not far from reality.

The problem is that, according to recent studies, agriculture has reached its maximum level of productivity with current technologies and inputs, and there has even been a drop in productivity due to numerous factors, including the resistance of numerous pests to the agrochemicals used and the degradation of agricultural soil.

In this context, we must add climate change, which is already beginning to be noticed in some essential food-producing areas around the world. And it is that, like it or not, agricultural activity is dependent on climatic conditions, and if these conditions change abruptly, our crops will not be able to adapt to the new conditions and will end up disappearing.

All this makes us see how important agricultural research and innovation is, since only from research applied to agriculture will it allow us to adapt it to the context of a changing climate, raising productivity, reducing the gap between current and achievable yields and, at the same time, reducing environmental impact. This agricultural research has borne fruit in recent years, and has provided the farmer with new tools such as:

> New forms of nutrition for crops. Like the biofertilizers, products created based on beneficial soil microorganisms, especially bacteria and/or fungi, which live associated or in symbiosis with plants and naturally help their nutrition and growth, as well as being soil improvers.

This field would also include biostimulants, another type of substances of natural origin that promote the growth of crops, increasing their productivity and health.

In addition, more and more farmers are opting for therecycling of waste from nearby industries to use as biomass in the field, with which a double benefit is obtained: a new life is given to waste that could end up in the landfill, reducing the use of chemical fertilizers.

> New products and techniques to fight pests. In this field, some living beings that have always been linked to agricultural production, insects, are being used. Every year new research appears in the field of biological pest control, that is, using natural predators to combat pests, and studies are being carried out on how to enhance and improve the work of these allies for the farmer.

In addition, many substances produced by insects have insecticidal and germicidal activity, and many researchers have set out to find and create new formulations from these compounds to combat pests. In this field, natural substances that are secreted by some types of plants with pesticidal activity are also being used. In short, the use of pesticides is being changed to biopesticides.

> New technologies to help field work. In recent years, many researchers and farmers have adopted the tools developed in other science disciplines to apply them to the field, as is the case of robotics. This field has created a series of robots that allow the farmer to increase his efficiency in field tasks.

A branch of robotics that has had a great entry into agriculture is the dronic. Every year new drones appear, and applications for these flying units, which allow monitoring the farm to see where phytosanitary treatment or an additional dose of irrigation is needed, even spraying treatments against pests.

Computer science has also come to the rescue of agriculture, with the implementation of technology Big Data in the plantations, which has allowed farmers to analyze a large amount of data to improve decision-making on their farms and foresee the near future.

> New production techniques. Due to soil degradation and speculation with farmland in developing countries, farmers are running out of land to plant, for this reason, new cultivation techniques have been developed, such as hydroponics, in which a crop is established in the absence of soil, arranged in a synthetic substrate and with a nutrient solution so that they can grow.

This technique has evolved into another in which plant production and aquaculture are combined, aquaponics: same space, double production. And even large technological giants have taken notice of this technique and have created veritable intensive production vegetable factories, where the crop is arranged both on the surface and at height.

The agricultural research It is a commitment to the future, it is a field that must be exploited and financed, only in this way can we give farmers the necessary tools to break those productivity barriers, and do it in the most sustainable way possible. 

From IDEAGRO, we work in favor of a more sustainable agriculture and agri-food chain, seeking not only to help farmers and ranchers can be competitive and have a profitable farm, but also that they can be innovative, and have the latest advances so that the final consumer always receives agri-food products of the best possible quality, and with high levels of food safety.

Currently,We work with hundreds of producers, not only in Spain but internationally to promote the use of natural solutions in agriculture such as biostimulants, the use of good agricultural practices, and above all the use and adoption of new technologies... Our philosophy of 'doing more with less' is completely adapted to tomorrow's needs, and that is that in order to satisfy the growing world demand for food, we must work together and always seek solutions that allow us to maximize available resources.

For it, In 2015 we have expanded our facilities, and currently we have our own testing laboratory, and a team of highly qualified professionals that allows us to take advantage of the latest advances, research, developments and technologies so that our clients always have the best possible alternative within their reach. Our collaborations with companies worldwide, they also help us to always offer a wide range of comprehensive solutions to improve the competitiveness of farmers and ranchers whatever the field of action.[:]

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