How can everyone have access to healthy food?
We at BASF have been working on answers to these questions for 150 years.
In 2050, more than nine billion people will live on Earth. One person in eight is already going hungry today. Yet nutritious food is essential to a healthy life. The faster the world’s population grows, the more important it becomes to consider how we will feed everyone:
How will everyone be able to eat healthfully? How can we combat malnutrition? What will the agriculture of the future look like?
We at BASF have been working on answers to these questions for 150 years: by recognizing a need early on, conducting inquisitive research, and sharing our expertise with others.
This includes innovative products and solutions for agriculture with which we support farmers in growing high-quality food. Together, we work to keep cultivated land arable for future generations. We use information technology to help farmers engage in efficient, careful, high-yield agriculture. Furthermore, we produce vitamins and fatty acids that contribute to a balanced diet.
In the field
In order to secure harvests around the world, our crop protection products guard against fungal infections, insect pests and weeds, and raise the quality of agricultural products. One of the most destructive soybean diseases is Asian soybean rust – a fungal infection. To combat it, farmers can turn to BASF’s proven strobilurin fungicides and Xemium®, our product launched in 2011.
Rice is the main food source for a large percentage of the world’s population, and thus one of the most important crops of all. Yet “red rice,” a type of wild grass, can cause considerable harvest losses in rice cultivation. BASF’s Clearfield® production system provides a solution: It combines an herbicide with Clearfield technology’s nontransgenic, herbicide-tolerant seeds, which can secure rice yields and increase them up to threefold.
Our research in plant biotechnology concentrates on plants for more efficient agriculture that are hardly affected by heat or drought, for example. One such product is the Genuity® DroughtGard® variety of corn we developed together with our partner Monsanto. In times of drought, it is more stress-resistant than conventional corn varieties.
As a project partner in the “Better Rice Initiative Asia,” we support the distribution of information in Indonesia and Thailand on the proper use of crop protection products. We are also involved in the development of courses to train farmers and agricultural consultants, as well as in the creation of educational materials and conducting seminars. For the staple rice, especially, farmers receive consultation on the selection of seeds, the right application of crop protection products and the analysis of growth. We support soybean farmers in a similar cooperation in India.
In North America, innovation specialists visit our customers in the field, where they work together on tailor-made solutions for success.
One of these farmers is Matt Miles from the U.S. state of Arkansas. Together, we developed a plan – from planting seeds to applying fertilizers and crop protection products, all the way to harvest. Matt produced a record yield in Arkansas in 2013: He harvested more than 7 tons of soybeans per hectare. Farmers usually achieve 3 to 4 tons on average.
“You’ve got to give the plant what it needs before it needs it, to really ensure that you’re going to get that kind of yield.”
Matt Miles, soybean farmer in the U.S. state of Arkansas
“A successful harvest these days is determined not only by soil and weather, but also by smart IT.”
Dr. Matthias Nachtmann, Global Manager of business development in BASF’s Crop Protection division
Modern farms rely more and more on high-tech solutions. It is not uncommon today to see farmers using a tablet or smartphone to assist their work in the field. John Deere and BASF agreed on a collaboration in 2013 to develop an integrated IT-based solution for farmers worldwide. The plan combines BASF’s agronomic expertise with John Deere’s experience in agricultural data management. This enables farmers to more easily interpret data in order to make more sound, efficient decisions on crops and processes. Farm machines equipped with sensors provide detailed data that is used to evaluate the optimal treatment of each piece of land.
Aside from the cooperation with John Deere, BASF also has other IT-based solutions on offer. Farmers in Brazil, for example, can take photos of diseased plants and compare them with a database in order to learn about possible treatments and recommendations.
Promoting a balanced diet
Vitamin A deficiency is a serious problem in over 70 of the world’s countries. Each year, one million children die from the effects of this deficiency. It can cause blindness and make children more susceptible to deadly infections like measles and pneumonia. Vitamin A is necessary for nearly every function in the human body, including vision, the nervous system, skin, bones, and the immune system. Because the body cannot produce the vitamin on its own, we need to eat foods that contain it. This presents a problem for many people in emerging and developing countries: They cannot afford the expensive foods, like meat and vegetables, where the vitamin is naturally found. In our Food Fortification Initiative, we assist governments, developmental aid agencies like UNICEF, and producers in supplementing necessary staples like oil, corn, rice and flour with additional vitamins and minerals. At the Rio+20 United Nations summit in 2012, BASF committed to reaching 60 million more people per year with enriched staple foods in order to protect them from the consequences of vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
“UNICEF and BASF have been working for years to combat Vitamin A deficiency, helping reduce child mortality worldwide.”
Roland Kupka, Senior Advisor for micronutrients at UNICEF
A balanced diet is also not necessarily a given for people in industrialized countries, where strokes, high blood pressure and other cardiovascular diseases are on the rise as a result of unhealthy food. Long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, such as those found in fish, can offer protection from these illnesses. BASF produces highly concentrated omega-3 fatty acids and makes them available for many consumers to take in various forms, from powder to oil.