In the global marketplace, agro-chemical use and production has skyrocketed over the last several decades. Increasing demand for crops and food, in conjunction with declining farmland availability, has escalated the need for using agro-chemicals in the form of fertilizer and pest control.
Balancing crops between supply and demand while maintaining costs and profitability are concerns that farmers must address as they look toward the future. While scientific advances have created safer, more effective forms of agro-chemicals, many farmers remain skeptical of their benefits.
Education and training on the uses and benefits of agro-chemicals will not only improve crop health and production, but will impact the world’s food supply in a positive way. Understanding both the size and scope of how food is produced is imperative to understanding the rise of agro-chemical use, and will give indication of what the future holds for farmers.
Global population growth is one of the largest driving forces behind the demand for increased crop production. India and China are home to nearly 3 billion people combined, with the United States coming in a distant third at just under 300 million.
By 2050, it is estimated that the current world population will increase by 3 billion people, bringing the total population to approximately 10 billion. This boom in population will continue to increase the demand for food production and push farmers to produce larger quantities of food that can be shipped around the world.
In the recent past, crop supply yield has increased 70 percent, thanks to the use of fertilizers by commercial farmers. However, cereal grain yields have stabilized and fisheries’ landings have declined in the last decade, an ominous sign for the future. With demands expected to increase nearly 50 percent for cereal grains, farmers are facing overwhelming need and must begin to take steps to prepare.
The three components to meeting increased food demand are: increasing food production (yield per area), increasing farmland, and greater crop intensity. However, in the many parts of the world, there is a significant lack of available farmland, forcing these regions to rely on the food production efforts of others around the globe.
This additional pressure on existing farmers increases the necessity of higher yield per area and greater crop intensity. As a result, farmers are turning to agro-chemicals to give their crops additional nutrients and protection in an effort to boost production.
The agro-chemical industry faces multiple challenges as the world braces for a population explosion. Balancing environmental concerns against improved scientific testing has left agro-chemical companies attempting to educate farmers on the benefits of their use.
Crop production in India, for example, is suffering from a lack of awareness among farmers regarding the benefits of agro-chemicals. According to recent studies, only 25-30 percent of farmers are aware of agro-chemicals and their usage, indicating a large market need.
Industry players face challenges in the management and distribution of products across the large geography of India. Trying to monitor costs while providing effective products has proven difficult. Many farmers are dubious of the use of fertilizers as a result of spurious pesticides and tainted bio-pesticides within the country.
As farmers begin to adopt the use of agro-chemicals, suppliers must deal with a rapidly changing market due to the unpredictability of pest invasion, the changing seasonal demands, and the impact monsoons have on the growing season. Attempting to convince farmers grappling with the sustainability of their crops to use additional products may prove to be difficult in regions such as these.
Imperatives for the Future
Agro-chemical companies must find ways to appease demands for environmentally safe products while maintaining efficiency and effectiveness. Increased testing and evaluation of environmental impact will continue to prove efficacy, assuring farmers of the validity of their use. In addition, increased oversight in developing nations such as India will assist in further development of food production.
By simplifying the registration process for both importing and exporting agro-chemicals, nations currently not using these products will be able to introduce their use to farmers within their borders. Industry players and governmental agencies must combine their efforts to improve regulation within nations, eliminating the introduction of spurious products into the marketplace. In addition, improving supply chain management will affect distribution and use, providing farmers with the products they need, when they need them.
The world depends on farmers to meet the demand for crops and food supply. As the population swells, farmers will be unable to meet demand using the same methods and tools of the past. By applying the scientific discoveries of the present to the methods of the past, farmers will be equipped to meet the demands of the future. As innovation and technology continue to improve agro-chemicals, further adoption of their usage will allow farmers to meet the growing food needs of the world.