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Technology key to boosting food productivity

THE agricultural sector will face many challenges, including global warming, a growing world population and stricter trading conditions, Montri Congtrakultien, president of the crop integration business group at Charoen Pokphand Group, warned yesterday.

The sector has to rely more on technology to boost productivity to meet increasing demand as well as to improve quality and hygiene standards, he told a seminar on "Challenges and Opportunities for Global Food Security".

"It is anticipated that the world population will increase significantly from 7 billion to about 9 billion by 2048. According to an Australian study, [much of this] increase would be seen in Asia, and will be highest in China and India.

"Any new investment then has to be focused on Asia to serve increasing demand for fruits and vegetables, meat, fishery products and animal feed," he said.

The Food and Agricultural Organisation has revealed that about 844 million people all over the world suffered from food shortages in the 2011-13 period, decreasing from 1.02 billion people in 1990-92, he said.

Most of those people facing food shortages are in Asia and Africa. Their numbers in Asia decreased from 314 million in 1990-92 to 295 million in 2011-13.

Thailand is ranked 49th in the world in food security.

With strong fundamentals as one of the world's largest food manufacturers and as a geographical centre in Asia, Thailand has enjoyed tremendous opportunities both in the agricultural sector and the overall economy in trading products within the region.

The development of irrigation systems throughout plantation areas is still one of the most important factors, while the appropriate growing area for rice farming should be about 48 million rai (7.68 million hectares) so that productivity will be maximised, Montri said.

Any food-development activity should be conducted in line with changes in consumer behaviour, which has been shifting from rural to urban. Consumers now enjoy higher spending power and demand food products that are safe and hygienic, he said.


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