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Can plant microbes help feed the world?

As global food demand increases, the agricultural sector is faced with the double challenge of increasing productivity while reducing the sector’s environmental impact. In an effort to help farmers worldwide address this challenge, Chr. Hansen has entered the rapidly growing plant health market.

Feeding the world in 2050

The global agricultural sector is facing a massive productivity challenge in the years ahead. According to the World Resources Institute, the agricultural sector needs to produce 69% more crops by 2050 in order to feed the growing population compared to 2006 levels1. This means that crop yields will need to grow by more than one third in the next 44 years compared to the past 44 years. With crop yields already at high levels and with climate change adding additional stress to productivity in many agricultural regions, the industry is in need of, innovative and sustainable solutions to help meet the growing demand for food.

Finding the answers in nature

One promising approach to improving agricultural productivity comes from nature itself in form of the microbial communities that live in, on and around plants. According to the American Academy of Microbiology, microbial solutions to improve plant health have the potential to increase crop productivity by 20% and reduce fertilizer and pesticide requirements by 20% within 20 years2

With a long-term ambition of leveraging its microbiological platform and knowledge to become part of the solution, Chr. Hansen has entered the rapidly growing biological plant protection market in a strategic alliance with FMC Corporation. Through the alliance, Chr. Hansen and FMC are working to combine knowledge and expertise to create a broad portfolio of biological solutions for farmers worldwide.

No one knows microbiology and fermentation better than the team at Chr. Hansen. Their expertise in scouting, screening and scale-up production complements the work we do so well in formulation and bringing products to market. We look forward to working with Chr. Hansen to create a broad portfolio of biological solutions

Mark A. Douglas

President, FMC Agricultural Solutions

Towards a sustainable alternative for farmers worldwide

The alliance builds on an existing collaboration between Chr. Hansen and FMC, under which the first product for sugar cane farmers, NEMIX® C, was launched in 2013. NEMIX® C has already proven the potential to increase sugar cane yields by 10% through enhanced root development and protection and is a purely biological product. Going forward, the alliance will expand into additional geographies and crop types with existing and new products.

What are microbes and why do they matter to plant health?

Microbes in the soil function much like the human microbiome , which helps break down food, access nutrients, and defend against harmful invaders. With the help of genetic analysis new information can be uncovered about the link between microbes and plant health, uncovering clues as to which bacteria, fungus or virus can help plants withstand unhealthy conditions such as heat, drought and diseases.

1 WRI: Crop Breeding: Renewing the global commitment, working paper
2 “How Microbes can help feed the world”, American Academy of Microbiology, 2012

Quick facts

20 %

Microbial solutions to improve plant health have the potential to increase crop productivity by 20% and reduce fertilizer and pesticide requirements by 20% within 20 years

69 %

The agricultural sector has to produce 69% more crops to feed a population of 9 billion people by 2050 compared to 2006

10 %

Chr. Hansen’s biological plant protection solution, NEMIX® C, can increase yield in sugar canes by 10%

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