World farming needs a âmajor shiftâ to more sustainable practices as intensive crop production since the 1960s has degraded soils, depleted ground water and caused pest outbreaks, the United Nations said.
More farmers need to reduce ploughing and alternate cereals with soil-improving plants, and use an âecosystem approachâ based on natural systems to promote crop growth, save water and fight pests, the UNâs Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organization said in a guide to policy makers published today.
The so-called Green Revolution that started in the 1950s and spread in the 1960s introduced more productive wheat, corn and rice varieties and relied on âhigh levelsâ of fertilizer and pesticides, the UN agency said. That boosted cereal yields and food production, saving an estimated 1 billion people from famine and jump-starting Asian economies, the FAO said.
âThose enormous gains in agricultural production and productivity were often accompanied by negative effects on agricultureâs natural resource base, so serious that they jeopardize its productive potential in the future,â the FAO said in the book on farming, âSave and Grow.â
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