Public, private institutions need to invest more in research, development to boost wheat production, as global demand outpacing annual productivity gains, farmers and scientists say
November 4, 2011
– Public and private institutions will need to invest more in research and development worldwide if production of wheat is to be boosted in the future. This is the conclusion drawn on Thursday at an international conference in Monheim attended by 150 scientists, breeders, merchants and farmers from all over the world at the invitation of Bayer CropScience. Productivity in wheat-growing, the world's most important staple food alongside rice, is currently increasing at a rate of less than one percent annually. Global demand for wheat is growing twice as fast.
The situation is being exacerbated by climate change and the decreasing availability of minerals for use in fertilizers. Against this background, the current challenges are the need to increase yields by using improved seed, and the need for new approaches in crop protection and optimized cultivation methods. "We want to make an important contribution to coping with these challenges," said Dr. Rüdiger Scheitza, a member of the Bayer CropScience Board of Management. "We are already the world leader in crop protection solutions for wheat," he continued. "In addition we are in the process of establishing a research platform that will lead efforts to breed improved wheat." New varieties should be available from 2015.
Professor Stephen Baenziger from the University of Nebraska explained that the challenges facing breeders have never been greater. "The major tasks include the development of hybrid wheat and the appropriate use of green genetic engineering," he said. One of the scientists supporting his work is Professor Martin Parry from Rothamsted Research, a world-class agricultural research institute based in the United Kingdom. "There is an urgent need for sustainable solutions capable of boosting the yield of wheat on the available land and for ways of using inputs such as fertilizers and water as efficiently as possible," he said.
The main facts about wheat:
Roughly 25 percent of the world's arable land is used to grow wheat. This makes wheat the cereal with the largest amount of land under cultivation and one of the most significant food staples in the world. With a production volume exceeding 650 million tons annually, wheat is the second most widely grown cereal crop after corn. Major wheat-producing regions include Australia, countries bordering the Black Sea, China, the EU, India and North America.
About Bayer CropScience
Bayer is a global enterprise with core competencies in the fields of health care, nutrition and high-tech materials. Bayer CropScience, a subgroup of Bayer AG with annual sales of EUR 6.830 billion (2010), is one of the world’s leading innovative crop science companies in the areas of crop protection, non-agricultural pest control, seeds and traits. The company offers an outstanding range of products and extensive service backup for modern, sustainable agriculture and for non-agricultural applications. Bayer CropScience has a global workforce of 20,700 and is represented in more than 120 countries.