Investment Encouraged in Those Who Farm the Land

CANADA - A University of Manitoba plant science professor is urging society to re-invest more of the money saved from reduced food costs in ensuring the stability of farming, writes Bruce Cochrane.
calendar icon 21 October 2009
clock icon 3 minute read

Re-investing the Cheap Food Dividend, the money saved as a result of reduced food costs, was discussed last week as part of the University of Manitoba's Advanced Plant Science Seminar series.

Dr Martin Entz, with the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences, believes we need to invest in the people who farm the land.

Dr Martin Entz-University of Manitoba

We need to invest more in the areas where people are starving which is rural semi-arid tropic areas of the world, India, Africa, Asia.

Three-quarters of the world's malnourished live in rural areas and they're actually farmers.

So that's job one.

Job two is to continue to conserve soil both in Canada and especially in the semi-arid tropics which is the part of the world where the populations are growing and soil degradation is going fastest.

Third thing I talked about was the brown revolution.

That refers to making plants productive in areas where irrigation water is just not going to be that available.

The fourth thing, perhaps we need to change our thinking from going to diversification to going to integration.

Diversification is adding more variety to the rotation and maybe to the farming system but integration is actually getting the parts of the farm or of the farming community to work together to harness some of those ecological efficiencies.

The fifth thing I talked about was urban agriculture.

I gave the example of Hanoi and Viet Nam.

It receives 50 per cent of its fish and meat and 40 per cent of its eggs and 80 per cent of its produce from within the city and the peri-urban or right on the fringe of the city area.

Urban agriculture is now viewed as a very legitimate form of food production all over the world.

Dr Entz says we have to increase food production to feed a growing population, expected to stabilise at about 10 billion in 30 years and that's going to take farmers working on the land.

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