As we mark World Food Day 2023, we turn our attention to the unsung heroes of the agricultural world: agronomists. These dedicated professionals work tirelessly, often behind the scenes, to ensure a better, more sustainable future for our global food system by advancing more sustainable farming practices in the field.
In this article, we explore their key role in addressing food security and sustainability challenges.
The Foundation of Food Security
Good agronomic production of staple crops forms the basis of food security, and yet a growing global population, geopolitical tensions, environmental stressors and other factors have had – and will continue to have – significant impacts on food security, impacting millions of people.
The World Food Programme reported that almost 258 million people across 58 food crisis countries faced acute food insecurity in 2022.
Meanwhile, the World Resources Institute estimates one-third of all food produced globally by weight is lost between farm and fork, representing over 1 billion tons.
This increasingly urgent challenge demands attention and action through strategies and policies that address underlying issues.
Closing the gap through agronomy in action
Working continually toward solutions at grassroots level are a group of unsung heroes of the agricultural value chain: agronomists.
Pivotal in fostering innovative and sustainable agricultural practices, they build relationships with farmers and their communities to understand their local context and challenges, and ultimately help them enhance production and yield quality, while conserving natural resources and ecosystems.
LDC’s dedicated agronomists visit tens of thousands of smallholder farmers each year, with a mission to promote good agricultural practices and ensure compliance with sustainability policies and standards. Often in collaboration with customers, expert organizations and other partners, they deliver training on sustainable farming techniques, responsible use of pesticides, access to markets, finance management, adaptation to climate change and more.
Insights from the field
We spoke to four of our agronomists around the world to gain insights into their work and perspectives on sustainable agriculture.
Some farmers are skeptical when it comes to adopting sustainable or regenerative agriculture practices, such as reducing mineral fertilizer usage and changing crop techniques, especially since in many cases, new tools are costly and different methods can be time-consuming to implement. Part of our role is to change their mindset by sharing knowledge and best practice, and we work closely with them in the field to show that it’s possible – and it’s so rewarding to see their progress in terms of improved outputs, market access and incomes.
Sustainability Coordinator for Juice
North Latin America
Creating social frameworks of farmer group educators and village resource leads in rural areas is key to driving adoption of good agricultural practices, as success requires a combination of support from the local community and technical experts to provide education. Here in India, for example, we form Farmer Learning Groups and teach through Farmer Field Schools to ensure season-long learning in small groups on farms, covering all aspects of sustainable agriculture to help boost production outputs and farmer livelihoods, while protecting the environment and supporting food security as key goals.
Head of Agri Research for Cotton (India & Pakistan) & Grains & Oilseeds (India)
South & Southeast Asia
The responsible practices we promote today will mitigate some of the negative impacts that conventional farming methods have caused over time, shape the long-term future of food and preserve a healthier environment for future generations.
Regional Sustainability Manager for Coffee
North Latin America
Climate change has impacted water availability, causing thermal stress on plants, increasing the spread of pests and diseases, altering growth cycles and harming soil quality. To adapt, it’s crucial to improve water resource management, choose resistant crops, adopt conservation practices such as regenerative agriculture, diversify crops and monitor the climate. Supportive policies, technology and investment in research also play a vital role in adopting sustainable agriculture.
Murillo Alves Moreira
Sustainability Coordinator for Grains & Oilseeds
North Latin America
Driving Positive Change
Working with the Louis Dreyfus Foundation and other like-minded partners, our commitment to empowering farming communities through more sustainable agricultural practices spans the globe with actions across our supply chains: from palm oil in Indonesia and Côte d’Ivoire to cotton in Zambia and India, and from juice in Brazil to our global Stronger Coffee Initiative.
Through projects and initiatives to train farmers on regenerative agriculture practices, supporting sustainable economic development while helping to mitigate the impacts of climate change, our agronomists are at the forefront of shaping a more sustainable food system for the benefit of current and future generations.
On World Food Day today, we celebrate their passion and drive to pave the way for a brighter future of food and agriculture.
Curious to learn more about our work to advance more responsible agricultural production?