Increasing food security and supply chain resilience with growing media

Close up of biologist’s hand with protective gloves holding petri dish with soil and young plant in front of microscope. Biotechnology, plant care and protection concept

BRUSSELS, Belgium: On today´s World Food Day, the FAO is celebrating its 75th anniversary with numerous events and actions around the world, raising awareness on the state of our food systems and promoting ideas to fight hunger and ensure healthy diets for all. Growing media are key for increasing food security while using less resources, reducing food waste and promoting healthier diets.

The increased demand for efficiently produced protein and nutrient rich plant-based food as the world population keeps growing fast, can be partially answered by the ongoing revolution in the horticultural sector: more and more fruit and vegetables are no longer grown in open fields but in protected environments (i.e. greenhouses) using tailor-made growing media as the base for the plant. This innovative method of growing plants has several advantages:

 Weather conditions have no or less impact

 Less input of fertilisers, pesticides and water per amount of harvested produce is needed

 Lower risk for soilborne diseases as plants are more resilient

 Reduced land use footprint

 Less food waste as plants grown in growing media have a longer shelf-life and are healthier

Growing media enable food production in areas where conventional open field growing is climate-wise impossible or economically not viable. Using growing media actively contributes to several of the United Nations´ Sustainable Development Goals, such as 2. Zero Hunger, 3. Good Health, 9. Industry and infrastructure, 11. Sustainability, 13. Climate Action as well as 15. Life on Land.

While the “big-scale” agricultural crops are of course irreplaceable to effectively fight hunger, growing media should be recognizes as part of the solution when it comes to sustainable food production systems, tackling food security, healthy diets and food waste.

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