Expert View: The Challenges in Agriculture

Expert View: The Challenges in Agriculture

Monday, November 24, 2014 - 9:30am

Dr Kenneth M Baker, Chairman, World Agricultural Forum

“Although gradually declining, the number of people employed in agriculture is greater than for any other human activity – around 35% of all those in employment globally.

Most of those people are in developing economies and at the lower end of the income scale. At the same time, agriculture is estimated to consume a hugely disproportionate 70% of the world’s freshwater as well as use large amounts of land.

The challenges are therefore to raise the living standards of agricultural workers, to make agriculture more efficient in its use of natural resources, to raise productivity and to make agriculture more sustainable. These are all interconnected and progress in one sustains the others.

Agriculture, by its very nature, plays an integral part in the management of the environment. It relies on natural resources, harnessed through technology, to deliver the food we eat and the products we use. But there are significant barriers to improving agricultural practices, notably illiteracy and low educational levels in poorer societies, lack of access to finance for implementing new developments and low productivity levels. However, with sufficient will and ingenuity, such barriers, I think, can be overcome.

I applaud all efforts to improve productivity, making more efficient use of natural resources and maintaining soil fertility – factors which should lead to higher income and greater prosperity for farmers. We can have a healthy debate on the pros and cons of the production of any crop, but as farmer prosperity improves, more options become available to individual farmers.”

Note: These are the personal views of the author

Read about how British American Tobacco is working to address these challenges in it's latest Sustainability Focus Report on supporting farmers' livelihoods. The report is available as a standard PDF, interactive PDF and app for iPads and Android tablets, which can be downloaded at


Verity Lawson
British American Tobacco