587. Global Wheat Supply and Food Security Stabilization
Researchers from CIMMYT, a leading international wheat and maize research organization, proposed near- to long-term measures to stabilize global wheat supplies and food security in a paper published in the journal Nature Food on July 19, 2022.
According to the paper, the Ukraine-Russia war is expected to have a tremendous impact on global food security in the coming months, if not years, and in light of the impact of COVID-19 and climate change, multi-layered steps must be taken to move toward increasing the resilience of today's highly interconnected food system.
Short-term measures to avert the current crisis included encouraging production to meet demand, ensuring access to grain, and exploring blending options. With regard to production incentives, the authors noted that there is room for productivity improvement in many regions. For example, in Eastern Europe, including exporting countries such as Ukraine, the yield gap* is as high as 50%, and there is room to increase production by 70 million tons if the yield gap can be reduced to 20% under water-constrained conditions. To achieve this, it is necessary to aim to increase yields in an environment that is currently achieving productivity below potential through agronomy, breeding, and policies such as time-limited counter-input subsidies. In the poorest countries, which are dependent on imported fertilizers and are currently experiencing record-high fertilizer prices, measures that contribute to building resilient production systems, such as integrated soil fertility management measures and integrated pest management for sustainable agricultural intensification, are required according to the local socioeconomic context. On the other hand, in Canada, the United States and Europe, where productivity is relatively high, economic incentives to encourage wheat acreage are expected to alleviate the global supply crunch.
The paper also proposes technical support for expanding production areas that could increase wheat supply resilience in the medium term, as well as strategies to strengthen the resilience of the agri-food system itself in the long term.
* Yield Gap - The gap between the assumed yield of an optimum variety or cultivation management method and the actual yield observed in the farmer's field environment, meaning that there is room for yield improvement through improved agricultural technology and cultivation methods.
Bentley, A.R., Donovan, J., Sonder, K. et al. Near- to long-term measures to stabilize global wheat supplies and food security. Nat Food 3, 483–486 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s43016-022-00559-y
Contributor: IIYAMA Miyuki (Director, Information Program)
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