There is huge opportunity to grow better, more nutritious, healthier food at lower costs of production so more can share and have equal access to it. The challenges are large: Colin Campbell
Congratulations to Intelligent Growth Solutions Ltd on the opening of their facility here at the James Hutton Institute. The James Hutton Institute is tackling some of the major global challenges around food, water and energy security which is a multifaceted problem.
What is most exciting about the science and engineering breakthroughs you will see is its importance to solving a really major problem. There is huge opportunity to grow better, more nutritious, healthier food at lower costs of production so more can share and have equal access to it. The challenges are large:-
- The global challenge to feed and sustain a projected 8.3bn population by 2030 is enormous. It is estimated we will need 50% more food, 50% more energy and 30% more water at the same time as soil, land, biodiversity and water (our Natural Capital) is being degraded. And on top of all we have inevitable climate change that will mostly exacerbate our problems.
- It is estimated that we will need a 120m ha in developing countries alone. How can we relate to these numbers. If we imagine this apple is the planet….
We can estimate the total land available for growing food with a simple demonstration
Take the apple and imagine that it is the Earth.
Cut it into four equal parts. Only one part is land and the rest is all the fresh water and sea water.
Cut the total land in half, one part is for mountains, deserts and land covered with ice which is uninhabitable.
Cut the other part into four portions. Three of these portions are still too rocky, wet, dry, hot or cold for growing crops and/or are covered with roads and cities.
Now there is only 1/32 of the apple slice remaining that represent the area of land for growing crops.
If this section is then peeled, the skin represents the topsoil on which all the food is grown that must feed the people on the planet.
Even this is an exaggeration. If you imagined this was a waxed apple and you could peel off the layer of wax this would be closer representation of the thin layer of soil we all depend on.
Re-imagining food production
This is why we need new innovations that disrupt our means and ways of production and what is offered here today is a realistic and exciting opportunity.
The ability to divorce the means of production in our food system from climate and land and high inputs using this technology is an opportunity to re-imagine our primary production systems and is probably the dawn of a new industry.
One of the main outcomes of our collaboration with IGS Ltd has been a new proposal to develop a new research centre called the Advanced Plant Growth Centre and this has been submitted to the Tay Cities Deal to ensure Tayside gets the opportunity to be at the heart of this exciting new era. To all of IGS Ltd: thank you for coming here and allowing us to help you in this endeavour and thank you for the opportunity to try and change our world in new ways.