Translating the complexity of food security into an opportunity for action

With the global population expected to exceed 9 billion people by 2050, the food security dilemma is increasingly in the spotlight on the international stage. Some estimates indicate that food production will need to increase by 70% in order to feed this growing population. This challenge is heightened by existing constraints such as erratic climatic conditions, limited farmland availability, scarcity of natural resources as well as a lack of infrastructure and finance.

Agricultural landscapes Photo: © Syngenta

“In 1950 a single hectare of land had to feed just 2 people,” said Andrew McConville, Head of Corporate Affairs for Asia Pacific, Syngenta. “By 2005 it had doubled to 4 people and by 2030 that same hectare will need to feed more than 5 people.”

To help countries better understand the food security challenge, Syngenta, one of the world’s leading companies dedicated to helping growers deliver greater food security to an increasingly crowded world in an environmentally sustainable way, developed the Rice Bowl Index, a project being presented at the 2012 IUCN World Conservation Congress.

The initiative aims to generate dialogue, collaboration and action between governments, the private sector and other key stakeholders in the food security conversation.

The Index assesses how robust a country’s capacity is to address the challenges of food security. It is able to capture the complexity of food security through a multi-dimensional approach, which displays information in easy to understand charts and tables. The result is a platform to determine potential actions for addressing the challenges within a specific country.

As a result of two years of planning and consultation with IGOs, food and agriculture companies, NGOs, multi-disciplinary experts, academia, civil society groups and media, the Rice Bowl Index was launched on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum East Asia Summit 2012 in Bangkok. The Index is an ongoing engagement platform with an initial focus on Asia Pacific.

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