Food & Agriculture Organization of the uN
The 1960s Green Revolution in agriculture saved an estimated one billion people from famine. Thanks to high-yielding crop varieties, irrigation, agrochemicals and modern management techniques, farmers in developing countries increased food production from 800 million tonnes to more than 2.2 billion tonnes between 1961 and 2000. Those achievements came at a cost. In many countries, decades of intensive cropping have degraded fertile land and depleted groundwater, provoked pest upsurges, eroded biodiversity, and polluted air, soil and water. As the world population rises to a projected 9.2 billion in 2050, farmers face a series of unprecedented, intersecting challenges: increasing competition for land and water, rising fuel and fertilizer prices, and the impact of climate change.
In order to grow, agriculture must learn to save. Sustainable crop production intensification can be summed up in the words “save and grow”. Sustainable intensification means a productive agriculture that conserves and enhances natural resources. It uses an ecosystem approach that draws on nature’s contribution to crop growth – soil organic matter, water flow regulation, pollination and natural predation of pests – and applies appropriate external inputs at the right time, in the right amount.