Article •  11/9/2019

Climate Positive Agriculture

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Attendees at the recent Hortconnections conference in Melbourne were fortunate to be addressed by a range of national and international speakers. One of the more notable presentations was given by Elizabeth Hernandez, Head of Government & Industry Affairs with Corteva Agriscience™.

Elizabeth’s presentation addressed the challenges faced by food producers in feeding a growing population. She pointed out that the planet will need to feed 10 billion people by 2050. And nowhere is this challenge more evident, than Asia, a continent that hosts 60% of the world’s population on 30% of the land mass.

The population in the Asian region is not only growing rapidly but changing rapidly too. With some of the most densely populated cities in the world, a burgeoning middle class and a booming digital media landscape, Asian peoples’ purchasing power is growing. Across the continent, people are becoming more knowledgeable and demanding of healthy, safe, environmentally friendly and tasty food. This presents, in Elizabeth’s view, a huge opportunity for fruit and vegetable growers in Australia.

Elizabeth did point out however, that although the market opportunities for Australia’s horticulture industry are clear, growers of today and tomorrow need to grapple with a rapidly changing climate and volatile environments. Corteva Agriscience she stated, believes that we must collectively and proactively address climate change as an industry. This, she said is vital to sustaining our industry, feeding our people and protecting our planet. As a leading input company, Corteva Agriscience’s want to explore pathways towards a climate positive agriculture industry.

Climate positive agriculture is a phrase that was new to most of the audience attending the presentation and so Elizabeth went on to explain the origin of the phrase and what it means to Corteva Agriscience.

Climate Positive Agriculture
Elizabeth HErnandez and Nick Koch.
Climate Positive Agriculture
Elizabeth HErnandez and Nick Koch.

During the 2018 World Food Prize Symposium, Jim Collins, CEO of Corteva Agriscience, challenged the agriculture industry and food supply chain to become climate positive. He defined “climate positive” agriculture as a food system that effectively produces sufficient, healthy food while removing greenhouse gas emissions from the atmosphere. This bold statement was intended to bring about actions and innovations, beginning with Corteva Agriscience’s own practices, to address the environmental footprint and associated scrutiny that the agriculture industry is facing.

We are all keenly aware said Elizabeth, that insects and diseases have a propensity to develop resistance to agricultural chemistries. And unfortunately, there are fewer discoveries in the R&D pipeline coming through to replace those that are now ineffective. Integrated crop protection systems are therefore integral, and we need to understand how science and nature can work together to support farmers in the future.

Corteva Agriscience, she explained, has a market-leading portfolio of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) products which enable farmers to control pest and disease in a sustainable way, while reducing the interdependence on chemicals by promoting biological control agents.

Another priority for the company is to meet the growing demands of the consumer organic sector. In 2020, Corteva Agriscience intend to commercialize an organically certified product called ‘Entrust Organic’, which is currently pending launch. Entrust Organic comprises naturally derived chemistry and demonstrates a commitment to supporting sustainable agriculture.

In closing, Elizabeth said “ We know that we have a huge responsibility as a new, pure-play agriculture company. So, our goal is to change the perception of the “big agriculture” industry, not by words but by actions.”

She vowed that Corteva  Agriscience will continue to partner with farmers and the wider ecosystem of suppliers, food companies, regulators, advocates and consumers. All to improve yields and farm sustainability for a climate positive future ensuring progress for ourselves as well as generations to come.