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Challenges for Agricultural Research

image of Challenges for Agricultural Research

As the world has changed during the past 50 years, so has agriculture. And so has agricultural research, which continues to confront new challenges, from food security to ecological concerns to land use issues. Indeed, as Guy Paillotin, the former president of the French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA) has noted, agricultural research “has reached new heights in biology and is exploring other disciplines. It is forever changing, as are the needs of the society”.

The changing challenges faced by agricultural research were examined in depth at a conference organised by the OECD’s Co-operative Research Programme on Biological Resource Management for Sustainable Agricultural Systems, together with the Czech Republic’s Ministry of Agriculture. Participants came from all agricultural sectors and included farmers, industry, scientists and decision makers, as well as other stake holders.

This publication presents the twenty papers delivered at the conference. They highlight recent major progress in agricultural research outcomes and address the challenges that lie ahead.

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Plants for the Future

The present millennium has started with unprecedented global menaces with serious implications for mankind. The management of the planet’s resources, the consequences of climate change, the problems generated by the food crisis require prompt actions. Actions at political and managerial level that take into account the contributions that science and technology can bring. The main challenges are: food and feed security; a much more sustainable agriculture; improved cash crops as raw material for the chemical and manufacturing industry; and, above all, actions for the preservation of the last surviving wildlife areas. The challenge is to produce better and more. The millennium goals are far from met. The number of undernourished people is reaching 1 billion. We need to produce more, to fulfil the demand of diversified agricultural products, and to guarantee a decent income to the farmers in the developing and emerging countries. To produce better, to satisfy sanitary and environmental requirements, biotechnologists have developed prototype plants that take up fertilisers more efficiently, need less irrigation and are more resistant to biotic and abiotic stresses. It is our mission to ensure that this knowledge is used in a wide range of breeding programmes, to generate the crops of the future.

English

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