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Agricultural technology critical in addressing global food crisis

DuPont Group Vice President James C. Borel told a special United Nations meeting on the global food crisis this week that providing farmers in developing countries access to improved agricultural technologies and farming techniques is critical in addressing the global food crisis.

Speaking on behalf of the private sector for the International Chamber of Commerce, Borel gave the U.N. Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) business and industry's perspective on immediate and long-term solutions to the food crisis.

"Agriculture must be higher on our agenda in a world of increasing food demands and shrinking resources," he said. "Farmers and agri-businesses are the engines that will enable increases in productivity. "I assure you that the private sector and the 1.3 billion farmers around the world are eager to help and are committed to being a part of the solution."

Borel told the group that local farmers, ag-retailers, grain handlers and Extension programs should be included in addressing the immediate needs, so that the infrastructure, investments and advancements they provide are not destroyed.

"As we address the short-term needs, do not repeat the mistakes of the past 20 years when agriculture received little policy attention or investment in the areas where it was needed most," Borel said.

He outlined four long-term solutions that business and industry believes would increase productivity and help alleviate poverty and hunger.

Encourage research and the dissemination of technologies and techniques for sustainable agriculture and water management. Public and private sector scientists must collaborate to develop technologies that will help crops be more tolerant to drought, salt and heat, and can utilize fertilizers more efficiently. Once produced, it is critical that they are made accessible.

Deliver extension and agronomy programming at a local level to ensure productivity increases are sustainable. "The benefits of investing in research and innovation can only be realized if the technologies can be adequately disseminated," Borel said.

Increase stewardship training in agricultural best practices at the local level. For productivity gains to be sustainable, farmers must use the best stewardship practices available to help improve soil productivity and limit environmental impacts.

Establish secure land tenure and recognize female landowners. "Women play a key role across sectors and at all levels of society," Borel said. "Their contributions must be recognized."

The World Summit Outcome called on the United Nations' ECOSOC to serve as a quality platform for the high-level engagement of multiple stakeholders on emerging global trends. The General Assembly has called on the Council to raise awareness and promote the engagement of stakeholders in support of concerted, coordinated and comprehensive international relief efforts. Yesterday's special meeting of the Council will identify urgent and long-term actions at the country and sub-regional levels to address the global food crisis.

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