NEXT Summit (Singapore 2021) Highlights the Urgent Need for Agricultural Technology Innovation and Ensuring Food Security

NEXT Summit (Singapore 2021) held a forum on “Agricultural Technology and Food Security” on September 29. The forum was presided over by Yuan Guobao, Vice Chairman of the Council of NEXT Federation, Chairman of the Agricultural Expert Committee, and a special expert of the State Council of China.

For thousands of years, agriculture has played a crucial role in advancing human civilization. It serves as the backbone of specific national economic systems, supporting national economic construction and development. With the transition from traditional agriculture to modern agriculture, agricultural development has become highly knowledge-intensive, internationalized, commercialized, capitalized, scaled, specialized, and regionalized.

From the perspective of the need for agricultural modernization, accelerating the resolution of development challenges provides unprecedented endogenous motivation for the development of agricultural technology. Since the first Industrial Revolution in the 18th century, humans have built a technological system based on fossil energy that supports the continuous development of agriculture and the continuous increase in food production. However, in today’s era of energy depletion, environmental pollution, and ecological imbalance, it is imperative to lead the development of modern agriculture with a new round of technological revolution and industrial transformation.

Academician Xie Hua’an of the Chinese Academy of Sciences stated, “Food is the paramount necessity of the people, and agriculture is a strategic industry that ensures social stability, promotes development, and stabilizes the market. Grains are strategic commodities that ensure people’s livelihood, control prices, and stabilize the market.” Technological progress has strongly promoted the development of modern agriculture and improved agricultural production levels. However, due to the weak resistance of China’s first-generation hybrid rice to rice blast disease, it posed a significant threat to food production. To solve this problem and further improve the hybrid advantages of hybrid rice, China has bred a strong restorer line with independent intellectual property rights and created the excellent germplasm “Minghui 63,” which has achieved outstanding results in restorer line breeding.

Academician Xie Hua’an outlined his vision for food security: further efforts should be made to explore excellent genes, create high-yielding, high-quality, stress-resistant, and storage-tolerant germplasm, and then cultivate high-quality, high-yielding, stress-resistant, and storage-tolerant rice varieties to reduce the use of pesticides and fertilizers, achieving the “dual reduction” goal in food production.

Dr. Delima Hasri Azahari, Special Advisor to the Minister of Agriculture of Indonesia, former Director of Agricultural Processing and Marketing Department, and Senior Researcher at the Center for Agricultural Socioeconomics and Policy (ICASEP), expressed that the COVID-19 pandemic has led to restrictions on grain exports by some countries, and climate change has caused extensive crop disasters and reduced grain production. Since mid-2020, global grain prices have risen significantly, especially for vegetable oils (CPO, soybean oil, rapeseed oil). She believes that it is necessary to improve agricultural productivity and ensure food security through technological transformation, modern biotechnology, digitization, and climate-smart agricultural technologies.

Lu Zhizhong, Deputy Manager of the International Business Department of Hubei Provincial Seed Group Co., Ltd., believes that the development of agricultural technology is the key to ensuring food security. To achieve agricultural modernization, it is crucial to integrate agriculture with technology, strengthen agricultural technological innovation, enable more researchers to translate their research into practical solutions, and empower farmers to use the best technologies to grow the best food. By developing agricultural technology, the seed issues in food production can be resolved. Through scientific techniques and methods, guided by the spirit of science, the commercialization of biological breeding should be actively and orderly carried out to improve the level of agricultural seed industry.

Ping Jun’ai, an expert in the National Sorghum Industry Technology System of China, and her team have used A3 cytoplasm to carry out the creation of forage sorghum parental lines and breeding of new varieties, successfully developing Jincao 1, a forage sorghum variety that opens up new fields in farmland mowing and improves the utilization efficiency of marginal farmland.

Peng Xubing, General Manager of Hubei Kangnong Co., Ltd., stated that his company is committed to the development of diversified seed industries and has made active efforts in corn and konjac seed industries. They have independently developed more than 60 corn varieties with intellectual property rights, making positive contributions to solving food security issues. In terms of international cooperation, Kangnong has partnered with Myanmar’s Axar Agri to focus on innovative research on high-quality, highly resistant and tolerant tropical corn germplasm resources. They have also entered the Indonesian market to carry out research, trials, and promotion of corn and rice new varieties. In collaboration with the local agricultural department in Nigeria, they have established research stations and conducted variety trials for several years. As an emerging company, Hubei Kangnong Co., Ltd. attaches great importance to international cooperation and looks forward to working together to solve international food security issues.

Kristinan Benny Hapsoro, Director of PT. Sedana Panen Sejahtera (Sedana Agro) in Indonesia, highlighted the uncertainties that climate change brings to agriculture. He pointed out that in Indonesia, climate change has had a significant impact on national security. Therefore, it is necessary to pay attention to these effects and propose new adaptive solutions, such as promoting technological innovation, enhancing resilience, and combating the challenges brought by climate change.

Wang Quanhua, Deputy Director of the Plant Germplasm Resources Development Center at Shanghai Normal University, presented the latest research results of his team in areas such as innovation and utilization of vegetable germplasm resources, functional genomics research, the creation of high-quality rice varieties, and wild plant resources development and utilization.

Zhang Li, Minister of Investment Promotion Department in Shanxi Xiangyuan Economic and Technological Development Zone, emphasized the significance of grain-based foods in China and introduced the Xiangyuan Tianxia Xiang handmade hanging noodles project. Tianxia Xiang handmade hanging noodles originated from the Yuan Dynasty in China and has preserved the traditional production process that is purely manual, ecologically friendly, and based on original techniques. While inheriting the genes of Shanxi’s pasta culture, it also carries a distinctive geographical imprint and humanistic feelings.

Matthew Jones, CEO of CertusBio Ltd in New Zealand, introduced the company’s projects in agricultural testing. He emphasized that continuous monitoring systems and optimized efficiency are essential for agricultural development. Scientific monitoring systems can maximize production, avoid process losses, and promote sustainable development.

Yuan Guobao believes that agriculture is the foundation of national rejuvenation, as the nation’s stability relies on agriculture, and people’s well-being depends on food. Ensuring national food security, firmly holding people’s rice bowls, and strengthening agricultural technological innovation to safeguard the bottom line of food security are of vital importance, especially in the face of uncertainties in the international grain market caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

NEXT Summit (Singapore 2021) had the theme of “Promoting Total-Factor Cooperation” and invited more than 70 international political figures, renowned scholars, business leaders, and entrepreneurial pioneers from over 10 countries, including New Zealand, China, Indonesia, South Korea, Egypt, Pakistan, UAE, Singapore, the United States, Germany, and Russia. The summit featured important segments such as the opening ceremony, keynote speeches, global project roadshows, Hurricane Lamp Award ceremony, and seven thematic forums, where cutting-edge speeches and case studies were presented.

To watch the “Agricultural Technology and Food Security” forum of the NEXT Summit (Singapore 2021), please scan the QR code link provided.

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