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New Initiative Addresses Global Food Security Challenges and Solutions

September 19, 2013
By: Rhonda Brooks, Farm Journal Seeds & Production Editor
Global Food Demand
  
 
 

Syngenta announces its "good growth plan" which it is implementing to focus on boosting resource efficiency, rejuvenating ecosystems and strengthening rural communities.

Today, Syngenta officials announced a new initiative it is undertaking to address global food security challenges with what they described as measurable, sustainable-growth targets.

"Between now and 2020, we have set out six commitments that Syngenta has decided are critical to our success and agricultural enterprises around the world," said David Morgan, Syngenta Seeds, Inc. president and North America region director, during a media teleconference.

Morgan said the company was announcing the good growth plan simultaneously in "various venues around the world from Jakarta to Zurich to Brussels here in Washington D.C. and in Brazil to give the community that is involved in thinking about agricultural productivity a sense of our perspectives on what is necessary for the future."

The six commitments Syngenta is embracing are:

1. Make crops more efficient: Increase average productivity of the world’s major crops by 20 percent without using more land, water or inputs

2. Rescue more farmland: Improve the fertility of nearly 25 million acres of farmland on the brink of degradation

3. Help biodiversity flourish: Enhance biodiversity on approximately 12 million acres of farmland

4. Empower smallholders: Reach 20 million smallholders and enable them to increase productivity by 50 percent

5. Increase safety measures: Train 20 million farm workers on labor safety, especially in developing countries

6. Fair labor conditions: Syngenta wants to see fair conditions established for laborers throughout the entire supply chain network

The company has adopted the six commitments, Morgan said, as part of its effort to contribute to the nutrition and overall well-being of the current population as well as the 200,000 new lives that are added to the global population every day.

"We have an obligation…we must help insure the right nutrition and support and enhance their overall life," Morgan said. "(We) must also be conscious of the need to do so sustainably and protect the ecosystem that supports the productivity of agriculture."

Syngenta chief financial officer, John Ramsey, said the company will put independent, third-party auditors in place to evaluate the company’s progress on an annual basis.

"We are very clear the progress we’re making must be concrete, measureable and demonstrable," Ramsey said.

Morgan added, "This is not just words and sentiment. These will be hard facts and metrics we’ll be judged by."

Morgan said that the process of reaching and keeping the six commitments would entail collaboration of many stakeholders within and outside agricultural realms, including world governments, academia, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and farmers.

"This requires a very broad engagement of people who have not, so far, come together," Morgan said, noting that people around the world have "desperate, diverse and occasionally polarizing opinions on what must be done."

He added: "We as a company recognize we cannot do this alone, and one of the main things we’re calling for is collaboration across stakeholders to make this endeavor a success. Today is the first of the dialogues."
 

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