AgriVision 2013 interview: Paul Schickler, President, DuPont Pioneer

FeedInfo 19June2013

19 June 2013 – Science has a crucial role to play in ensuring food production can meet the needs of a growing world population, but it must be customised to suit the environment, the regulations and the knowledge of farmers locally, if it is to deliver efficient solutions.

“Every challenge, every problem, every country and market is different. Local farmers need to know how to use the technology. So we need to train them and give them sufficient confidence before they switch to new technology”, Paul E. Schickler, President, DuPont Pioneer, told attendees this afternoon at AgriVision 2013, in a presentation entitled: “Science is universal, solutions are local”.

Feedinfo News Service was able to talk to Paul Schickler shortly after his presentation and find out more about his company’s vision of future innovation and collaboration in the agricultural sector.

[Feedinfo News Service] Mr. Schickler, DuPont is investing about USD 2 million every day to boost the science of food production and working in various ways to improve the nutrition of the crops. What are these significant investments used for?

Paul E. Schickler
DuPont Pioneer
[Paul Schickler] DuPont allocates more than two-thirds of its annual research and development investment to finding innovative solutions in food – whether that’s through advanced seed, improved packaging, or enzymes that prolong shelf life. These investments fuel research into better crops, better storage solutions, and better ways to make sure that food makes it from the field to families.

[Feedinfo News Service] DuPont has committed to engage more than 2 million young people in food and agriculture educational opportunities by 2020. How do you intend to reach this ambitious target?

[Paul Schickler] DuPont is dedicated to creating educational opportunities today to generate the food and agriculture leaders of tomorrow. We do this through collaborations with educational institutions and not-forprofit associations to create student experiences in agriculture. We also develop activities and tools for teachers to bring the life sciences into the classroom.

[Feedinfo News Service] You argue that there’s not a better combination than an agricultural background with an international business interest. What is your message to the current and future generations of agriculture students?

[Paul Schickler] Feeding the world requires people of all educational backgrounds and skills to come together to spur innovation and collaboration across the food value chain. Today’s agricultural students are already well on their way to making a difference in global hunger. I hope current students and generations to come consider getting an education in science, and then apply their knowledge and passion to the agriculture and food industry – where their work can make a difference in lives around the world. Furthermore, we need talented individuals with other backgrounds as well, including marketing, IT, finance, or communications to name a few.

[Feedinfo News Service] You say that the collaborations and innovations that will increase global food security will be fueled most of all by the enthusiasm of generations to come. According to you how can such enthusiasm be generated?

[Paul Schickler] Today’s youth understand they have an important role to play and want to be involved in their community. Enthusiasm can be generated by showing them how they can make a difference, and nothing is more important than ensuring every person has food to eat. DuPont continues to add jobs around the world and invest in the next generation of scientists. DuPont has strong relationships with universities around the world, and supports leadership training and skills development. We are actively involved in STEM, 4-H, FFA, and other organizations to support unique education and community programs globally.

[Feedinfo News Service] You have previously said that the recognition of the role that agricultural development can play in a country’s economic development, stability and security is paramount. The difference between a farmer having access to improved farming practices or not can often be traced to a country’s supporting structures and policies. Generally-speaking, why is it that agricultural development still isn’t high upon the politicians’ agendas despite the numerous rallying cries from industry leaders?

[Paul Schickler] Agricultural development is critical to the progression of societies — economically, socially and physically. We must continue to break down silos across industries and sectors to find ways to collaborate. It will take all of us working together to meet the needs of a growing world population. At DuPont, we are focused on promoting the needed growth in agricultural productivity through collaboration, scientific innovation and local solutions. We approach agricultural development by creating solutions that address not only immediate needs but also environmental and societal needs in the long term. Agricultural development is a long term investment. Countries often believe there are other competing needs that might be more immediate, but there is solid evidence that an investment in agricultural development generates the greatest return.

[Feedinfo News Service] You highlight a conundrum: Today digital technology is allowing farmers to gather massive amounts of data. However, they are overloaded and find it difficult to sort through all their data to make better decisions and increase profitability. You say that information is only relevant if it is used in a way that can help increase the entire operations’ profitability, and that next generation of whole-farm management begins today. Can you provide us some insight on how DuPont addresses this challenge?

[Paul Schickler] As part of DuPont’s commitment to farmers and increasing the food supply around the world, DuPont Pioneer has launched new whole-farm management services to help growers in the US. Pioneer® Field360™ services provide  guidance in key farming decisions including seed selections, in-season crop management and water and fertility management. The first wave of Pioneer® Field360™ applications and tools combined with our team of sales professionals provided growers a vital link between data and action that can help drive productivity per acre year after year.

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