To mark the 6th Convergences 2015 World Forum, an interview with Marie-Cécile Thirion, Project Manager, Agriculture and Biodiversity Division, Agence Française de Développement.
Some 870 million people in the world are still hungry. While the world’s population is projected to exceed 9 billion people by 2050, agriculture is faced with increasing water scarcity, land degradation and price volatility. In this context, how to optimize the use of resources and guarantee food and nutrition security for all?
For Marie-Cécile Thirion, food and nutrition security is first and foremost a challenge of volume: how to provide a sufficient quantity to meet growing food demand? But it is also an issue of quality and diversity, so that everyone can have access to a balanced diet suited to their needs. In a finite universe, where there is an increasing amount of pressure on land and natural resources, agriculture (which continues to be the sector that consumers the most water and mineral fertilizer) must also take account of its impact on the environment.
We need to learn lessons from our failures in order to devise a different type of agriculture with our partners, more suited to local situations and reinvented with communities on the ground. We need an agriculture that is more economical in terms of water and land, that respects natural resources and that will get a large part of the rural population out of the poverty trap it is in1.
AFD is working on several projects that aim to carry out this transition towards an agriculture able to meet the challenges of tomorrow. They include:
- Irrigation, which is a way to intensify agriculture and manage the climate risk;
- Promoting more environmentally friendly agroecological techniques that use ground vegetation to protect the soil and retain water, reduce tilling and closely associate agriculture and livestock farming;
- Enhancing traditional practices that take account of the environment and the management of dwindling resources.
1 Three quarters of poor people in developing countries are rural dwellers and make their livelihoods from agriculture.