Government agriculture policy should be forward thinking and coordinated to enable the UK to contribute to world food security, the NFU said this week.
It follows the publication of the Foresight Report on Food and Farming which was commissioned by the Government’s Chief Scientific adviser Professor John Beddington.
It provides compelling evidence for global governments to act sooner rather than later in order to feed an estimated world population of nine billion by 2050.
NFU chief science adviser Dr Helen Ferrier said: “The information from this report is valuable and contains important messages for government, industry and civil society about British food and farming, as well as the massive challenges in developing countries.
“The British agriculture industry is intimately linked to the global food and energy supply system and is subject to the damaging volatility in weather and prices that characterise the 21st century.
“The UK has a responsibility to increase its productivity and to make best use of our resources, infrastructure and geography.
“Yield and quality losses due to pests, diseases and weather amount to a waste of resources that the world cannot afford.
“There are high expectations on our farmers so we need forward thinking policies, effective supply chains and investment in R&D to be able to produce more while impacting less on the environment.
“Both UK and European institutions must act according to the clear need for sustainable intensification of farming, reducing waste in all parts of the chain and implementing policies that are based on robust evidence.
“New technologies and farm management practices, as well as the promotion of existing knowledge and best practice, are critical. There is no single solution and all technologies must be considered when we are facing such a major global challenge.
“British agriculture has a critical role to play in securing food supplies for the long term and we must look at how the UK can be part of the solution rather than having an island mentality.
“But we can only do that if the Government takes its own commitment to increasing food production seriously, recognises the value of domestic production and puts in place a policy framework that will enable Britain’s producers to optimise productivity while protecting the environment in a changing world.”