Kalyani: Urging the agricultural community not to focus only on increasing crop yields, Australian plant bio-security scientist Shashi Sharma today said globalisation and climate change has emerged as a new threat to food security.
"Globalisation of food production and distribution has enhanced the potential for pests to disperse to new regions, find new vectors, new hosts, new environments, and new opportunities to evolve into damaging species and strains," he said while addressing an international symposium on food security at Bidhan Chandra Krishi Vishwavidyalaya at Kalyani in Nadia district.
Dr Sharma, director of plant biosecurity at the Department of Agriculture and Food in western Australia, said the increase in rapid transport systems and movement of people and goods, accompanied by climate change has increased the threat of new pests impacting on food chain.
More than 30 per cent of the world`s food - enough to feed more than 2 billion people - is currently lost in the food value chain.
Pests cause significant production and post-harvest food losses world-wide, particularly in many food-insecure developing countries.
In addition, enough food to feed many millions of people is wasted in developed and some developing countries.
Sharma said the majority of the food insecure developing countries lack effective biosecurity planning to safeguard their food production, storage and food trade.
Food distribution, without underpinning biosecurity risk management, can be extremely risky, he warned.
"Heavy reliance on improving crop yields to continue delivering global food security could be risky in an environment of decreasing availability of arable land and water, combined with increasing exposure of the food chain to pest risks," the scientist said.
The outbreak of the Ug99 strain of stem rust in Uganda, to which over 80 per cent of the world`s wheat varieties have no resistance, has revealed the risks associated with our current dependence on a very limited number of plant species for food, and the need for a commitment and shared responsibility for global biosecurity to limit pest impacts, he pointed out.