Keeping in mind that there are going to be more than 2,000 million extra people in the world population over the next 100 years, and that the current population demands more quality and quantity of products, the sector cannot ignore the fact that there is an ever-increasing need for a change of paradigm. Up to now, climate change management has been focused on the reduction of the use of fossil fuels. However, there is more to it than just that in order to ensure a future that is good enough.In this future that we are referring to, both the consumer and the farmers have a fundamental role to play.
A growing world
Humanity is using up the planet’s natural resources at a rate equivalent to 1.7 planet earths in the conditions it is currently in. This translates as 74% more that the planet can regenerate in a year. At this pace, it is expected that between 30-50% of all species will be lost by the middle of the 21st century. Although fossil fuels have been the modern-day-protagonists of the fight against climate change, the food chain, its production, management and consumption are becoming the center of attention as a key element for the improvement of people’s well-being and that of the environment.
The reason being, is that agriculture has a far greater impact that was originally thought: 26.8% of all greenhouse-causing gas emissions are said to come from agriculture. This is only topped by the 32.1% thought to come from industry, followed, quite far behind, by energy and heat production. These figures are bound to grow at the same time that society does, and this is why new models, capable of dealing with this change, must be found.
It all begins in the soil
Soil, that fragile resource that needs hundreds or even thousands of years to form, depends on geochemical, climatic and geographical conditions, among many others, to do so. But the characteristics that make it what it is, can be destroyed by people over just one generation. With this in mind, perhaps it is fitting to point out that over the next 40 years, an increase in agricultural production of 70% is necessary in order to support the whole population .
This is why it is important to look for comprehensive solutions which will involve all the participants in the food chain. The regulations and rules that regulate all of this are important, as well as educating all the people who form part of it, but neither of these two measures is fast enough to bring about the change that necessary to ensure soil health and therefore, the future of agriculture. While it is true that it all begins in the soil, it is also true is that it all ends with the consumer.
The consumer, a fundamental piece in the change of paradigm
Lo que realmente cambia la gestión de la agricultura a una velocidad suficiente es la presión del consumidor final y la actitud de las empresas frente ello. La búsqueda de la salud, el respeto por el medioambiente y el sentido de propósito de la marca destacan por su evolución en la mente del consumidor, promoviendo esta presión social. Así, la gestión de la agricultura cambia rápidamente bajo la presión de los distribuidores.
¿Qué quiere decir esto? Que la iniciativa privada tiene el poder de cambio en sus manos ya que debe liderar el cambio de paradigma trabajando para los clientes finales. La gestión política ya no es suficiente. Con la idea clara de que la gestión de los recursos como el suelo, o el agua, no son renovables, porque el nivel de consumo no permite su regeneración, es hora de apostar por nuevas estrategias que reduzcan la huella humana en el mundo natural:
- Promover la gestión preventiva del medioambiente y de la agricultura con productos Bio sin residuos frente al uso de químicos paliativos
- Desarrollar la digitalización para reducir la complejidad en la gestión de las nuevas soluciones de precisión personalizadas
- Racionalizar el uso de productos en la agricultura y el uso de recursos naturales
New dimensions of change
In these new models associated with change, biological competences add a competitive plus of incalculable value. The growth of models based on platforms which speed up scientific discoveries; the use of digital technology to develop more personalized products and services; digitalization to help reduce the complexity of management; and the promotion of new relationships and ecosystems between the different participants in the chain and the innovative surroundings, are pivots on which to base this change in paradigm.
In this change, the impact that each link in the chain has, is a lot more than what it was traditionally attributed. In other words, each one of the above factors affect society closely and deeply. It is time to admit the potential and the responsibility each one has in the food chain and therefore cater for society’s needs, providing sustainable alimentation, a better quality of life by means of practices that we manage on a day-to-day basis, right from where it all starts – out in the fields.
The way to go about doing this is to drive each one of these aspects to change and interact among one other in order to achieve a transformation towards a more efficient, inclusive, resilient, sustainable agro-alimentary system.