Farming must transform to meet the challenge of feeding a growing population, says NFU president Peter Kendall.

Farming must transform to meet the challenge of feeding a growing population, says NFU president Peter Kendall.

beef cattleThe global population will hit seven billion people on October 31, according to a United Nations estimate, prompting the NFU to raise concerns about food production and sustainable farming.

Responding to the United Nations Population Fund report, The State of World Population 2011, Mr Kendall said trends in population growth, dietary habits and environmentalism, mean that farming needs to transform to meet the demands of societies. He said: “We are facing farming’s greatest challenge. Not only do we have to deliver a step change in productivity but we have to do it at the same time as reducing our environmental impact, using fewer non-renewable resources, in an increasingly volatile climate.

“Farmers can deliver, but only if we make the very best use of everything that science and technology can offer us, in the context of political, commercial and regulatory frameworks that are geared to helping us produce more, while impacting less. And this is not a challenge that the UK can opt out of. We owe it to ourselves and to the rest of the world to reverse the slide in output which has seen self-sufficiency in the UK fall from 75 per cent to 60 per cent.”

He added: “Producing more from our own resources strengthens the security of our food supplies, is a safeguard against food price inflation caused by shocks on world markets and must become a key strategic priority over the years ahead. The days when we could neglect our own farming potential and import the balance of our food needs cheaply from around the world are over.”

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