Increasing productivity does not always mean using more fertilisers and agrochemicals as these technologies frequently carry unacceptable environmental costs, argue the authors. They say that a range of techniques, both old and new, should be employed to develop ways of farming that keep environmental damage to a minimum.
The authors of the paper accept that the intensification of agriculture will have some implications for other important policy goals, such as preserving biodiversity, animal welfare, human nutrition, protecting rural economies and sustainable development. Policy makers will need to find a way to navigate through the conflicting priorities on occasion.
Lead author Dr Tara Garnett, from the Food Climate Research Network at the Oxford Martin School, said: 'Improving nutrition is a key part of food security as food security is about more than just calories. Around two billion people worldwide are thought to be deficient in micronutrients. We need to intensify the quality of the food we produce in ways that improve the nutritional value of people's diets, preferably through diversifying the range of foods produced and available but also, in the short term, by improving the nutrient content of commonly produced crops.'
'Sustainability requires consideration of economic, environmental and social priorities,' added Dr Michael Appleby of the World Society for the Protection of Animals. 'Attention to livestock welfare is both necessary and beneficial for sustainability. Policies to achieve the right balance between animal and crop production will benefit animals, people and the planet.'
Agriculture is a potent sector for economic growth and rural development in many countries across Africa, Asia and South America. Co-author Sonja Vermeulen, from the CGIAR Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Secur
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