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|The Bayer Future of Farming Dialogue focused on the importance of sustainability in agriculture|
Speaking at the recent Bayer Future of Farming Dialogue virtual event, Liam Condon, president of the Bayer Crop Science Division noted that farmers and all of us are faing climate change problems which are very real and dramatic.
“Today, we are struggling to achieve that goal. Over 800,000 people go to bed hungry every night. That number is increasing now because of the COVID-19 pandemic. We believe that agriculture can be part of the solution to climate change, given that agriculture is a huge industry in the entire world,” he said.
As a company, Bayer is working to find answers. The company made a strong commitment to feed the world and planet through its products and initiatives.
First, Bayer’s highly innovative carbon initiatives are redefining the value of farming by rewarding farmers for generating carbon credits when adopting climate-smart practices. “You want to look after the planet? You want to look after human health? Look after the soil,” Condon said. The company launched its Bayer Carbon Initiative earlier this year. Currently, it is in a pilot phase in the US and Brazil with 500,000 acres enrolled.
The initiative looks at ways towards a “carbon-zero future for agriculture". The idea is to sequester carbon in the soil, which makes the soil more fertile. “You’re actually taking greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere, and with that, reducing pressure on the planet. So, you’re doing good on multiple fronts. You’re improving the potential productivity on the farm, but you’re also addressing climate change,” he added.
In addition, the Bayer Carbon Initiative goal allows farmers to sell their carbon credits. However, a certification process to prove the amount of carbon sequestered is still in the works. Condon also admitted that the carbon trading platforms have a way to go before purchasing directly from farmers. Right now, he said, it is geared toward the fossil fuel industry.
|Liam Condon, president of the Bayer Crop Science Division|
Secondly, Bayer has made the game-changing launch of VITALA, the first global launch of a short stature maize hybrid in Mexico, to help farmers produce more while using fewer resources. It consists of a new hybrid corn and agronomic package to help farmers grow more with less.
“Corn is the most important crop in the world. The possibility that we see here is we can actually produce the crop in much smaller plants with the same yield and same productivity,” he said.
Farm Progress introduced this idea of short-stature corn in 2019. Short-stature corn takes plant height from 8 feet down to around 5 feet. The goal is to have a shorter plant that produces the same yield as a taller plant, but with less water or even land.
Third, Bayer is committed in its efforts to support smallholder farms. Last year, Bayer set the goal to help 100 million smallholder farmers by 2030. Today, the company reaches about 40 million but Condon said it is still only a fraction of the 500 million smallholder farmers around the world.
Condon said through the company’s Better Life Farming Alliance, Bayer has given away 2 million packages of seeds and crop protection products to smallholder farmers around the world.
“Our goal is to help make smallholder farmers, not only sustainable but economically viable, because then they can sustain their families and their local communities,” he said. “Ultimately, what we’re working towards is a more sustainable food system, where finally, we can get healthy, accessible, affordable, safe food for everybody and hunger for nobody.”