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Ecological Farming Methods Can Boost Food Production In Developing Countries, U.N. Report Says

If developing nations shift to using ecological agriculture methods, which rely more on organic and sustainable practices rather than the use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers, they “can double food production within a decade,” according to a study by Olivier De Schutter, the U.N. special rapporteur on the right to food, released on Tuesday, Reuters reports (Doyle, 3/8).

“The report reviewed scientific findings on agroecology produced over the past five years or so,” Nature’s blog “The Great Beyond” writes. “To feed 9 billion people in 2050, we urgently need to adopt the most efficient farming techniques available,” De Schutter said. “Today’s scientific evidence demonstrates that agroecological methods outperform the use of chemical fertilizers in boosting food production where the hungry live – especially in unfavorable environments,” he added (Gilbert, 3/8).

The report, which was presented to the U.N. Human Rights Council on Tuesday, says that agroecology techniques “increased crop yields by 80% in 57 developing countries, and on average more than doubled all African schemes. In projects in 20 African countries, output doubled in three to 10 years,” the Wall Street Journal reports. “At the same time, research found that farmers needed to pay for fewer inputs. Projects in Indonesia, Vietnam and Bangladesh recorded 35%-92% reductions in insecticide use on rice, while in cotton production in China, India and Pakistan, farmers cut pesticide use 34%-66% while improving yields by 4%-14%,” according to the newspaper (Henshaw, 3/8).

FAO To Hold Seminars On Government Response To Food Prices

In related news, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) “said Tuesday that it will run a series of seminars in different parts of the world ‘to help governments to make informed decisions on how to respond to high food prices,’” Xinhua/People’s Daily Online reports (3/9).

“The objective of the seminars is to exchange experiences from the last food price crisis in 2007/08 and to become better acquainted with the pros and cons of the various policy measures mapped out” in an FAO policy guide, a press release from the organization states. “FAO feels it is essential that countries consider their policy options and steer away from decisions that might exacerbate the situation,” said FAO Deputy Director-General Changchui He. “During the last food crisis, the situation was aggravated when some countries imposed export restrictions or engaged in panic buying,” he said (3/8).