The future of agricultural production looks extremely complex, marked by the transition towards a new technological revolution and with a strong presence on the climate change and environmental sustainability agenda. Furthermore, feeding an ever-growing world population should be based on increased productivity per unit area rather than expanding the agricultural frontier.
In the agricultural sector, the fourth industrial revolution is reflected in the concept of Agriculture 4.0. In this context, obtaining a large amount of specific data - at constantly decreasing costs through the use of sensors, drones, machines and satellites - and processing it using increasingly sophisticated models, offers the potential to significantly improve the efficiency in the allocation of resources, with positive impacts on both the profitability and the environmental sustainability of agricultural production. Digital agriculture and advances in genomics and new plant breeding techniques are, among other scientific and technological fields, part of this fourth industrial revolution. In addition, the demand for foods with differentiated attributes will also grow.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the increase in the frequency and intensity of extreme events is having a negative global impact on food security and ecosystems. This is leading financing towards projects related to adaptation, mitigation and / or conservation policies of ecosystems, as well as greater investments in research and development of technological innovations to combat climate change. According to the IPCC, 23% of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions during 2019 came from the agricultural and forestry sector and from changes in land use. Given the magnitude of the phenomenon, the report affirms that the objective of keeping global warming below 2°C is impossible to achieve without a significant reduction in these emissions.
On the other hand, chemical contamination from agricultural activities has grown steadily over time, as a result of the fight against multiple pests and diseases that affect productivity and the use of fertilizers to improve soil nutrition. In terms of stewardship of natural resources, more attention must be paid to the problems related to the management and conservation of water, soil and genetic resources Regarding water issues, a key action is to increase use efficiency.
Although developed countries continue to lead investments in science and technology and in patent applications, other players also appear with remarkable growth during the last decade. In this context, it should be noted that emerging countries have great potential for technological expansion. In parallel - and unlike what happened historically, where most of the research in food and agriculture was carried out by universities and government agencies - in recent years a significant increase from the private sector investing in agri-food R&D has been observed at a global level. Despite the ups and downs that may arise due to temporary situations (such as COVID-19), the public-private synergy is expected to continue growing in the long term. In addition, the formation of networks and articulations of various types for R&D innovations has been gaining more and more strength, both nationally and internationally. Today, competitive advantage is not based so much on accumulating knowledge but rather on having access to flows of knowledge that allow permanent updating and so facilitate adaptation.
Plant breeding offers enormous potential to help solving these challenges. The development of new and better varieties sets the basis for higher productivity, in a sustainable and efficient way. The complementation between conventional breeding and the application of biotechnology, ecophysiology, bioinformatics, high throughput phenotyping and genotyping techniques, and the conservation and use of genetic resources, allowed the development of cultivars with higher productivity, differentiated quality and tolerance to biotic and abiotic stresses. This will result in increased food production while preserving natural resources and mitigating the effects of climate change. Within this challenging context, this 1st International Plant Breeding Symposium proposes a platform for the discussion and application of scientific advances at the service of agri-food innovation through more valuable plant varieties.
Bolsa Cereales Córdoba
Camará del Mani
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