Main menu


Innovation in agriculture is critical in addressing food security

Takudzwa Mupfurutsa Business Executive Officer Nestlé East and South Africa Region (ESAR) Dairy Products

Takudzwa Mupfurutsa Business Executive Officer, Dairy Division, Nestlé East and Southern Africa Region (ESAR)

This year we are celebrating World Food Day in a harsh reality. We face persistent vulnerabilities in the global food system. The outlook for the food industry remains fragile due to continued supply chain disruptions, crop and livestock losses, and the energy crisis, all of which are leading to rising costs of living. The climate crisis is exacerbating this reality, with many communities in eastern and southern Africa experiencing extreme weather patterns such as severe droughts and floods. Under these circumstances, food security remains a serious concern, further undermining easy access to affordable nutrition for all.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the planet was already dealing with interesting demographics. In the Global North, aging populations have impacted the ability of many economies to produce food efficiently. With changes in immigration policies, the impact of a drastic decline in the working-age population is jeopardizing the food industry. In the global South, population growth means increased food demand, resulting in increased use of arable land and water. Thus effectively meeting the UN’s second Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) to curb food insecurity, end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture. A paradigm shift is required to deal with it.

There is no known rational panacea for the answer to this global puzzle. However, there is a central point of convergence where you can focus to achieve significant changes, and it has proven effective in many pilots. In other words, the agricultural sector is adopting fundamental changes to farming practices that can meet growing demands while protecting and possibly restoring the environment.

Regenerative agriculture, as it has become known, is a collective of sustainable agriculture that works in harmony with nature to maximize production in both quantity and quality of food. This approach borrows from indigenous practices used by ancient communities for centuries, and has evolved over the years to include cutting-edge technology to manipulate efficacy. It is As a result, the release of harmful greenhouse gases into the atmosphere can be significantly reduced while improving the quality of raw materials for food production.

A pilot project applying these practices is the Skimmelkrans Boerdery in Western Cape, South Africa. South Africa, and poised to become Africa’s first net-zero dairy farm by 2023, employs regenerative farming practices in its day-to-day operations. For example, the farm uses intercropping on pastures, mixing different types of grasses such as ryegrass and clover, with no-tillage, fertilizing with cow dung, and irrigating using recycled water. The effect is an earthquake. By reusing manure as natural fertilizer, farms reduce the amount of carbon released by using commercial fertilizers. 1.36kg is the average mass of carbon released into the atmosphere for each kilogram of fertilizer produced. The estimated amount of carbon incorporated into each hectare of ground through photosynthesis and sequestration processes in crops is 10 tonnes. The Skimmelkrans cover 600 hectares and prevent 600 tons of carbon from being released into the atmosphere each year. Through all of this, milk production from the farm has increased by 11% and this milk is used to produce products such as Nestlé Nespre, Nestlé Milo, Nestlé Culinary Milk and Nestlé Everyday. The fact that this is locally sourced further magnifies the positive impact of this approach, contributing to the local economy through agripreneurship and job creation.

A shift to regenerative agriculture has proven effective in reversing climate change, while delivering higher yields and improved farmer livelihoods. A paradigm shift in large-scale food and farming systems could directly address food insecurity security, especially in the global southern economy, where increasing demand for affordable, nutritious food is correlated with increased land use. is important.

Addressing SDG 2 requires collective action centered on communities vulnerable to the dual threats of climate change and food security. For food manufacturers, working with producers such as the farming community is one way to truly unlock the power of food and improve the quality of life for everyone on this planet. Only then can we effectively reduce food insecurity while protecting the planet.