Head of Yara Downstream Egil Hogna, argued the case of sustainable optimization of farming at a top conference at the Royal Institute of International Affairs at Chatham House on 9 December. “We need to balance environmental issues and future food security,” Mr. Hogna said.
"My future business model is not to maximize sales to the individual farmer – but to grow through helping farmers optimize the balance of high yields, reduced environmental impact - and profits," Egil Hogna told the gathering.
Egil Hogna took part in a moderated panel discussion on the environmental footprint of agriculture, looking into how zero deforestation and sustainable farming systems can be achieved. Exemplifying the point of optimizing agriculture, Mr. Hogna shared insights on cocoa growing in Ghana.
Yara’s Ghana experience
In Ghana, a Public Private Partnership (PPP) for cocoa used an R&D based program to increase yields. Thanks to subsidized fertilizers and the use of insecticides and fungicides, yields nearly tripled, income levels were multiplied, and a 402 sq km area of closed canopy rain forest was conserved. The example illustrates how farming profitability, deforestation and environmental performance can interconnect.
"The good news is that these can go hand in hand, and making this happen is part of our growth strategy," Egil explained. "But the 'bad news' is that making this a reality is highly complex," he said, citing considerations like managing land rights, financing, knowledge gaps and regulatory issues, among others.
This complexity has led Yara to conclude that only partnerships can cope with the vast range of challenges facing green, inclusive growth. Yara has gained experience in working through PPPs, addressing complex issues and delivering business solutions contributing to global challenges.
"PPPs and wise, science-based regulations can leverage the private sector and the market to drive a positive development for society at large," he added.
A need for increased momentum
"Transformation is emerging, and engagement is rising," Hogna argued. "But there remains a need for momentum, alignment of resources and the continued building of trust possible from a true and inclusive partnership approach."
This December 9-10 meeting examined routes to sustainable production and consumption, necessary changes in investment, business practice and global governance, and the potential impact of factors such as climate change and technological innovation. Also present at the meeting, titled 'Food Futures', was the CEO of Sahara Forest Project (SFP), Mr. Hauge. SFP, Yara and Qafco recently delivered the final report of a pilot desert greenhouse, growing crops using concentrated solar power and sea water.
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