CEO Jørgen Haslestad argues the case for smarter farming: what is needed to drive development towards more Climate smart agriculture (CSA), and how has Yara as a company brought specific solutions.
Q: Jørgen Haslestad, CEO of Yara – how do you define Climate Smart Agriculture?
A: To me there are three key elements: We must continue to raise productivity and yields. We must adapt to the coming climate changes. And we must work smarter to drive down emissions. All at once!
Q: Can you explain how increased productivity and yields play a role?
A: To grow more food we must either achieve higher yields – or expand farmland. Farmland expansion causes deforestation, which again releases massive amounts of CO2. Deforestation is a major source of emissions caused by agriculture.
Q: Work smarter – how can we do that?
A: We need to partner with the farming community to optimize resource use – more crop per drop of water, acre of land and kilo of fertilizer. At the policy level, there is a strong need to consider agriculture as a system – including the effects on land use change.
Q: Many see intensive agriculture as a major environmental issue. Do you disagree?
A: Both farming and fertilizer production cause emissions. We need to limit these to a minimum – also by reducing food waste. But the key is to achieve higher yields through smarter farming: Reducing deforestation as well as other environmental impacts of intensive farming.
Q: What strategies are emerging to handle these issues?
A: I see a need to strengthen international leadership and coherence. Food security is increasingly addressed through a number of innovative, high level partnership approaches. An important next step is to firmly integrate the link to global warming into agricultural development.
Q: How will Yara contribute?
A: We have halved our own greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and we are driving the development of carbon footprint methodologies in our industry. Now, we are actively searching for collaboration on how to promote climate smart solutions in the food chain.
Q: Can we feed the future in a world of global warming?
A: I firmly believe that is possible. But I am also convinced that global leaders need a wakeup-call. We need to address these entangled issues in parallel, and we need to do it together.