President and Chief Executive Officer of global Agric firm – Alltech, is calling for increased investments in agricultural research. 

Dr. Mark Lyons says it is worrying that investment in agriculture is dwindling at a time when there are enormous challenges facing the sector. 

“There are changes in technology, changes in environmental concerns and disease challenges. These are fresh pressures on our system,” he observed in an opening speech at the Alltech Ideas Conference at the Lexington Convention Center in Kentucky, USA.  

“We are going to need a lot more food; at least 60% more by 2060. We have to make sure that the food is there. But we are investing a lot less in agricultural research and food production than we did in the past. How does that make sense?” he quizzed. 

“This is the time to invest; to create businesses. And come together. We have to make sure we come up with the new ideas and implement them so we can produce more and waste less than we do today,” Dr Lyons added. 

The Alltech Ideas Conference – now in its 35th year, is an annual event that brings together almost 4000 people from over 70 countries to explore innovation, inspiration and world-changing ideas.

The conference is organized by US-based animal and crop production inputs firm Alltech, which was founded by Irish scientist Dr Pearse Lyons in the 1970s and has now grown into a global brand with more than 6,000 employees in about 100 locations across the world. 

Dr Mark Lynos and Dr Bear Grylls

Organisers describe the One19 Alltech Ideas Conference as “where everyday heroes from various industries across the globe dare to dream bigger and explore solutions to improve their businesses and the world around them.”

Dr Mark Lynos told the conference new ideas are needed to revolutionise the world and the agricultural sector in particular. 

He identified tradition as one of the biggest drawbacks to agricultural development and called for a change in attitude.

“One of the things we hold the dearest are the things that hold us back. Our major competitor in agriculture is often tradition. We do it this way so we always do it this way…We have to push through that fear and come up with new science and new ideas…,” he told the gathering. 

He called for better efforts on the part of the industry to ensure sustainability of the food supply chain, noting consumers are now paying more attention to the level of efficiency food producers are injecting into their work.

“Feeding, 8, 9 billion people (in future)…can we do it? For me, it’s the wrong question. It’s what we are going to be producing and for whom that matters,” he said. 

Bear Grylls, a TV adventurer and author who also spoke at the conference expressed worry about the impact of climate change on the planet.

“We are in a changing planet. Our planet is changing and the vulnerable always suffers. Whether its people dealing with rains coming too early and bigger storms and bigger floods and bigger droughts or how these animals are living on the edge and being pushed to the edge of existence…” 

He called for more action to reverse the situation. “It is also a hard reminder of how our planet is really fragile. And we’ve got to do all we can to protect it. And it is such an interesting debate on climate change because I come from a place that I see the hard end of it.

“To me, there is no debate. If we have something that’s beautiful, we should be able to say it’s beautiful. Do we need to protect it? If you love something, you protect it,” he told the conference.