To the Editor — The current world population of 7.8 billion is predicted to reach 10 billion by 2057 (https://www.worldometers.info/world-population/#pastfuture). Future access to affordable and healthy food will be challenging, with malnutrition already affecting one in three people worldwide. The agricultural sector currently provides livelihoods for 1.1 billion people and accounts for 26.7% of global employment (https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SL.AGR.EMPL.ZS). However, our reliance on a small number of crop species for agricultural calorie production and depletion of land, soil, water and genetic resources, combined with extreme weather events and changing disease/pest dynamics, are already jeopardizing future food security1. Climate change–induced reductions in the global yield of major crops (for example, rice, wheat, maize and soybean) are more pronounced in low-latitude regions and thus affect farmers in developing countries2. As is evident from temperate cereal crops, a robust seed system that delivers improved cultivars to replace old cultivars is a plausible approach to adapting agriculture to climate change3. Here we provide an overview of how seed input supply systems and new production and harvesting technologies can generate increased incomes for developing world farmers and deliver better products to consumers.
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The authors thank the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research, The University of Western Australia, and Director General, ICRISAT for supporting an international workshop in Perth, Australia, to brainstorm topics in the article. R.K.V. acknowledges support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for undertaking research on seed delivery systems through the Tropical Legumes projects at ICRISAT.
The authors declare no competing interests.