'Improving crop yields, stopping wastage are major challenges to avoid global food crisis'
Major challenges lie ahead for the global food industry as increasing urbanisation shrinks rural labour forces and non-renewable resources are becoming scarce, according to a leading authority in agriculture and food.
Sudhakar Tomar, managing director of Hakan Agro, the UAE's largest agribusiness trading organisation, said that for the first time 50 percent of the world's population lives in cities, with the overall population growth rate increasing faster than the average growth rate of food production. "As the world's population is expected to reach nine billion by 2050, there will be an extra 2.5 billion mouths to feed, meaning overall food production needs to be raised by 70 percent," said Tomar, adding that reducing wastage, both in the supply chain and on the table, as well as eating smarter will go a long way to satisfying the growing appetites of the world's population.
Tomar will be among an expert panel of speakers at the second edition of SIAL Middle East Conference, where he will highlight the various challenges of global food supply, and the measures to combat these challenges. The three-day conference runs alongside SIAL Middle East Food Exhibition, taking place from 21-23 November at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (Adnec).
A line-up of 31 high-profile international and regional speakers will join Tomar as they look to address delegates about the pressing issues and opportunities facing the global food industry. The first day focus is on food retail, with the afternoon dedicated to a featured session on seafood from Vietnam. The second and third day will put a spotlight on business and marketing, trends and innovation, nutrition and healthy food, and food security and sustainability, where Tomar will outline how to meet the challenge of feeding a population of nine billion people by 2050. Improving crop yields "To feed nine billion people is difficult but not impossible," added Tomar. "The world can produce enough food to feed everybody now and in the future.
We can solve the global food crisis in our lifetime if we improve our crop yields in the developing world, stop wastage at the farm level in Asia and Africa, stop wasting food on the plate in the first world, and most importantly, if we start eating smart. "At the current farm level in Asia and Africa, 50 percent of crops are lost due to pests, diseases, bad storage and an almost non-existent supply chain. "Furthermore, 40 percent of food is lost or thrown away in North America and Europe between the shop and the dining table." Mohamed Jalal Al Reyaysa, official Spokesperson, Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority and chairman, Higher Organising Committee for SIAL Middle East, said that the SIAL Middle East conference provides an ideal platform to bring together government representatives and the private sector to discuss the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for the global food and agriculture sector.
"Due to population growth and increasing per capita income, food consumption will reach 51.5 million tonnes by 2015 in the GCC alone," said Al Reyaysa. "Meeting this increasing demand for food is both a challenge for the GCC governments and an opportunity for private sector players to expand within the market.
The SIAL Middle East Exhibition and Conference provides the all important stage to meet the challenges and capitalize on the opportunities that lay ahead." More than 12,000 trade visitors from 80 countries are expected to attend SIAL Middle East 2011. The trade show will host an exhibitor line up of more than 500 food and equipment manufacturers and suppliers. There will also be 16 national pavilions.
From Turkey, Argentina, Korea, China, Taiwan, Iran, France, Italy, Poland, Vietnam, Thailand, the United Kingdom, the United States, Egypt, Tunisia, and the UAE. 70 percent of the exhibitors and the food products on display will be seen for the first time in the region.