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Agrimarketing : World Ag Congress
World Agricultural Forum 2009 Congress 7 management will deliver better long term solutions and outcomes? For example, over recent years, commentators shut their eyes to any possible implications from the huge aggregation of wealth by the few and were, with exceptions, silent about such growing disparities all around the world. In my view, such huge gaps on spending power are a major factor in the world's current financial mess. The world needs to re-think the basic proposition that underpins current policy. Instead of urging the rich to spend more, we need to develop global policies that will enable the 50% of the world's popu- lation who live at under $2.50 a day to earn a little more and so create a new market of three billion people. Create a new market of three billion people who will all cheerfully spend more on goods and services they desperately need. Further, if the world every year redirected just 1% of what is spent on weapons, it could put every child in school. Surely all political leaders can agree that would be a great benefit to the whole of the human family. With bold leadership, all this can change, for we have the knowledge and the skills necessary to feed and educate the additional three billion people who will join the human family in the next 50 years. Last month, the National Farmers Organization throughout Africa met in Kenya. The president of the host organization said that, "Africa has the potential to grow three times the food it requires. Conga alone could feed the whole of Africa, yet," he added, "sadly, 40 to 50 years after independence, Africa cannot feed itself." To realize the potential of Africa and elsewhere will require many things including reform of world trade policies. THE FUTURE OF FOOD PRODUCTION So, where do we go from here on food production? The whole question of science and the use of genetically modified crops to boost food production will gain greater acceptance as pressure on food supplies grows. Science and technology, including that required to better utilize land and water, will reshape food production in the 21st century. The acceptance of science as an essential tool in the pro- duction of sufficient food for the world family creates new issues. At a time where we have just witnessed how vulnerably super-sized banking institutions proved to be, the last thing the world needs is a very small number of super large companies that could dominate food production and availability. Equally similar development could see a few mega-buyers for very large wholesalers/retailers which would dictate prices to producers. In the middle of the current financial crisis, governments need to remind themselves that the success of modern capitalism requires open markets which permit open competition. Governments have a role to ensure that this happens as monopolies and near monopolies never provide the best option. I have ranged over a number of issues that will play into tomorrow's world mainly to highlight issues that will have to be dealt with in a much more proactive way than they were before the crash. Past policies worked exceedingly well for a miniscule percentage of dealers and business people, reasonably well for a number of developed countries and failed miserably for the majority of the world family. The good news, it does not have to be like that. We are not in an impossi- ble position. The issues discussed are not outside our ability to solve. The major issues I have focused on, can all be resolved with our current state of knowledge and if the growth of knowledge continues apace. What the world needs now are leaders and government, commerce and a civil society that will rise above petty ambitions and narrow calculations to see a better world that is there for the taking if they collectively have the courage to step forward. We have to also be part of that plan now. WAF
November December 2009