The agri-food sector is strategic

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The agri-food sector is strategic

Yvonne Colomer | According to FAO, it will be necessary that the world production of raw materials increases by 70% in the next 40 years.


Feeding is a biological necessity and a right for every human being. As long as there are citizens on the land, there must be agrifood production. Since the beginning of civilization one of man’s obsessions has been to produce and to conserve food. Conserve food to ensure its supply in times of scarcity (winter, drought, ….), Since agri-food production is terribly conditioned to soil conditions and climatic conditions. The forms of conservation of food, ranging from the beginning with dehydrated (sun dried food), salted, smoked (fish, meat …) to the latest technologies but have the same basic principles.

Today, the only direct source of obtaining “food energy” is that which comes from agriculture, fishing and grazing livestock (basic production from the photosynthesis of plants). The rest are transformations that need inputs to obtain them (I think for livestock, for aquaculture …). Unlike other sectors, the energy for the rest of human activities can come from my diverse sources (the solar energy of the sun, the wind energy of the wind, …). These lines of research in an environment of sustainability pose great challenges for the development of humanity.

According to the FAO (United Nations Organization for Food and Agriculture), it will be necessary for global production of raw materials to increase by 70% in the next 40 years, if we want to cover the world’s food needs.

On the other hand, if we use macroeconomic data, the Spanish agri-food sector accounts for more than 20% of GDP, and for the fifth consecutive year with a positive trade balance. Spain is one of the main agricultural producers of the European Union, one of the largest employers, and one of the sectors that has best withstood the crisis.

With these approaches on the table and with the mission of working on the optimization and adequate articulation of the global food system so that it results in greater availability of food, greater security, and greater confidence of citizens, from products to consumers, the board of the Triptolemos Foundation for the agri-food development of 2015 at the Higher School of Agricultural Engineers of Madrid (UPM). It was attended by a large number of representatives of the food system, ranging from representatives of the productive sector of raw materials and transformation, areas of knowledge and research (universities, CSIC), consumer associations, (CECU), Federation of Food Banks (FESBAL).

To face future challenges, the Spanish agri-food sector has important assets among them the level of excellence of its researchers and universities, which must face the future: increase in world and urban population, shortage of water, arable land, climate change, among others, ensuring the production of agri-food raw materials, increasing the production of food per person, producing products with added value that strengthen the country’s export sector. Challenges that should be answered with the research excellence.

If the agri-food sector is strategic for the development of humanity, training is key. The agri-food training offer of Spanish universities is wide in this field and offers many possibilities to be able to advance.

The agri-food sector is strategic, this requires that the people, companies, institutions that make up the global food system collaborate, in a environment of global and ethical sustainability, in the conviction that there can not be a sustainable and socially balanced development if, at the base, the global food system does not maintain the balance between all its actors.

By Dra. Yvonne Colomer | Director of  Triptolemos Foundation for agri-food development