Head of Yara Downstream Egil Hogna and Joachim Lammel, Yara R&D and Global Initiatives, traveled to the high-level Norway-Asia Business Summit in Thailand.
Yara has a strong connection with Thailand; as early as 1907, King Chulalongkorn of Siam became the first Asian head of state to visit independent Norway, including a trip to Norsk Hydro’s plants at Notodden. Naturally, Yara has a strong presence in today’s Thailand and participated at the Norway-Asia Business Summit.
The 2014 summit, held in Bangkok by the Thai-Norwegian Chamber of Commerce, attracted roughly 200 participants from Norway and Asia, from business leaders, Norway's Deputy Ministers of Trade and Foreign Affairs, to a former Secretary General of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations). It covered themes ranging from macroeconomic trends in Asia, food and energy security, to business opportunities in the region.
‘Feeding the Future’
On day one of the Summit, Joachim Lammel's presentation 'Feeding the Future' explained the need for innovation and knowledge transfer to close the yield gap and provide food for a growing global population. On day two, Egil Hogna built on this with 'A business strategy for global challenges', introducing Yara's Creating Impact approach and how it provides answers to Asia-Pacific challenges.
"Global Warming is expected to worsen growing conditions, and Southeast Asia is expected to be seriously affected by the adverse impacts of climate change," Egil warned, citing a variety of reports. Access to freshwater is another factor that puts regional food security at risk.
"Asia-Pacific has made good progress on food security. There are however more hungry people here than any other continent," Egil continued. "Malnutrition remains a challenge. Of course food supply does not solve all - access to food is equally important. In terms of realizing economic growth for the poor, agriculture is the most efficient tool."
Hogna offered three answers to these challenges: Yara's Crop Nutrition program, innovative partnerships and new technology.
"Our target is to improve farmer profitability through our knowledge," he explained. "Providing better knowledge, products, tools and solutions to the farming community helps build farming profits and this is fundamental to grow our business sustainably."
Spreading knowledge through apps and Social Media
The WEF partnership where Yara solutions were used to solve challenges facing Vietnam's coffee sector was used as an illustration of answer two; with results including improved ripening, increased farmer income, higher yields and lower greenhouse gas emissions. "The scope of the partnership has expanded from securing yields to include the aspect of sustainability," Hogna added.
Using apps and social media as ways that technology can be used to spread agricultural knowledge, Egil argued that "Innovation makes farming sexy". Examples of tech attraction included Yara India's Facebook page that has become popular with high-value crop farmers for information exchange, the CheckIT app, which has been translated to Thai, and DiscoverIT, launched in China to certify genuine Yara products.
"Millions of small farmers across Asia can benefit significantly from improved access to knowledge," Hogna concluded. "Technology is ready and will be vital for us to readdress the distribution of knowledge."