On the eve of an important international gathering focused on agriculture and climate change, the director-general of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (UN FAO) said, “Agriculture must change.”

José Graziano da Silva noted that “while the numbers of the chronically hungry have been reduced by 100 million over the past decade, 805 million still go without enough to eat on a regular basis.”

Da Silva went on to say that the model of agricultural production that dominates global food production today is “not suitable for the new food security challenges of the 21st century.” Increasing agricultural production has been viewed by many as the means to ending hunger. However, even though the world produces enough food to feed everyone, hunger remains an issue of global concern.

Graziano da Silva said:

“Since food production is not a sufficient condition for food security, it means that the way we are producing is no longer acceptable.

“What we are still mostly seeing is a model of production that cannot prevent the degradation of soils and the loss of biodiversity – both of which are essential goods, especially for future generations. This model must be reviewed. We need a paradigm shift. Food systems need to be more sustainable, inclusive and resilient.”

He also underscored the important role that agriculture plays in mitigating the impacts of climate change, and also spoke about the vital role of healthy soils. (2015 is the international year of soils).

“Soils host at least one quarter of the world’s biodiversity and are key in the carbon cycle. They help us to mitigate and adapt to climate change,” he said.

Da Silva’s call for an increased role for an agroecological approach to food production is certain to spark debate.

You can access Da Silva’s full comments here. Via Chuck Abbott (@chuckabbott1)