Farming First Launches Infographic: Food and Farming in 2030

Last week in New York the first Open Working Groups began to discuss the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that will replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) when they expire in 2015. In an effort to inform the SDGs, Farming First has launched a creative infographic that skips forward in time to 2030, when the SDGs will be set to expire to show what the future of food and farming could look like, depending on decisions made now.

Just as you must decide on a location before you set out on a journey, when setting goals you must be certain of what you are trying to achieve. With that in mind – why don’t we reposition the “post-2015” agenda, and instead think about the measures we must put in place “pre-2030”? The infographic gives us this clear view of what we must achieve in terms for food, people and the planet by 2030, and how innovations in agriculture can help get us there.

What does the world look like for food and farming in 2030?

Take a look at the Farming First Infographic.

“Let Us Choose What Works For Our Farms” say farmers about the tools and technologies needed to tackle climate change

During the World Food Prize a panel of five farmers, several of whom I know well and admire greatly, discussed how they are responding to the challenges which global climate change will pose to their farms. The Farming First ( synopsis is below:

The panel was chaired by Julie Borlaug, granddaughter of the late Dr. Norman Borlaug, who said in her opening remarks, “If there was any panel that my grandfather would be most interested to attend, this would be it”. Dr Borlaug was the main catalyst in launching the green revolution in the mid-20th century.

Coming from Africa, South Asia, Latin America and Europe, the five farmer panelists all discussed the ways in which more erratic and extreme weather as a result of climate change is affecting them and the need for new approaches to farming.

Santiago del Solar Santiago del Solar, an Argentinian farmer, illustrated this by discussing recent rainfall on his farm over the past decade. “There’s no such thing as average rainfall,” he said, referring to the wide variation he is seeing from year to year. “In 2009, we received only 672 millimetres of rain – a big drought,” he said, “but in 2012, we received 1451 millimetres, a big flood.” In response to this and other challenges, he mitigates this and other impacts by using no till agriculture, crop rotation, GM seeds, crop protection products and precision agriculture. No till practices alone, helped him save 33% in fossil fuel use and reduce soil erosion by 70%.

Gabriela CruzMeanwhile, the expectations being put on farmers by governments are increasing, said Gabriela Cruz, a fourth generation Portuguese farmer. “What does Europe expect of me?” Cruz asked herself in her presentation. “To be a superwoman” she said, “by producing safe food and reducing water and energy consumption while remaining profitable.” With Europe expected to experience even more drought and heatwaves in the future, Cruz has responded by changing her irrigation system (from flooding to centre pivot), practicing Integrated Pest Management (IPM), rotating crops and maintaining biodiverse pastures. However, to reduce her water consumption further, Cruz called on Europe to improve access to better genetics through GM crops, which will enable her to reduce inputs further and better adapt to a drier climate.

V.K. RavichandranEach farmer had his own story to tell and a unique set of responses which worked for their farm. But across the panel, each farmer called for the ability to choose for himself the range of solutions which worked for them and their farms. “Our farmers created history [during the Green Revolution] by transforming India into a self-sustaining agricultural nation, but we still face challenges”, said Indian farmer V.K. Ravichandran. He mentioned shrinking arable land area, depleting water resources, erratic rainfall and lack of young people becoming farmers, among others. “We should look into the possibility of cultivating other types of crops, different than conventional ones, that would fit into the new environment,” he said.

Dyborn ChibongaDyborn Chibonga, who heads the National Association of Smallholder Farmers in Malawi (NASFAM), reiterated this view. “Our farmers take farming as a business,” Chibonga said, “but they are still not producing as much as they should from any given area of land” because they are dependent on rainfed agriculture, shorter duration of growing season, more droughts and floods, resurgence of pests, weeds and diseases and lack of access to processing and markets. He also argued for further innovation to be identified and rigorously tested – “new technologies such as genetic modification, cloned livestock or nanotechnology”– while also ensuring “open and transparent decision-making” and “respect[ing] the views of people who take a contrary view”.

Gilbert Arap BorA farmer from nearby Kenya, Gilbert Arap Bor, discussed the state of agriculture in his country: only 20% arable land, a population often food insecure and frequent need for food imports from other countries. He argued that farmers need to use technology to diversify their crops and organize themselves better to adapt collectively to the changing climate. Bor also noted that the Kenyan government had set up a task force to perform a biosafety review of GM crops to be grown and imported in Kenya, based on a review of recent field trials. He is optimistic he will soon have access to the technology.

During the question period, the Tanzanian Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Food Security observed that the issue of whether African countries allow GM crops is no longer about science but about political will. And he said that European activism was influencing how African policies were being written because of the fear of losing Europe as an export market (only four African countries currently allow the growing of biotech crops).

Watch our World Food Prize video compiling the views of the five farmers from this panel and others attending the World Food Prize.

The farmer panel event was part of a three-day series of panel debates at the World Food Prize, broad centered around the theme “Biotechnology, Sustainability and Climate Volatility”. Other speakers included Tony Blair, former UK Prime Minister, President Grímsson of Iceland and Cardinal Turkson of Ghana who has served as the President of the Roman Catholic Church’s Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace since 2009. The dialogue was held in conjunction with the World Food Prize Laureate Ceremony, where three leading plant biotechnologists were honoured: Dr. Marc Van Montagu, Dr. Mary Dell-Chilton and Dr. Robert Fraley.

Effectively harnessing the tools and technologies needed to advance sustainable and productive agricultural practices is one of the great 21st century challenges, and it will span the scientific spectrum from research, education, extension and enterprise.

Canadian Oats to Mexico

Canadian Oats to Mexico
Canadian Oats to Mexico

The Prairie Oat Growers Association and I were honoured to visit Grupo Vida headquarters in Guadalajara. Grupo Vida is the second largest oat company in the world and have bought important milling assets in Canada.

The oat growers had over 15 meetings with Mexican companies and invaluable visits with the AAFC team in the Embassy in Mexico City, led by Kim O'Neill. Juan-Carlos Munoz at the consulate in Guadalajara was similarly invaluable.

POGA is developing a long term strategy to increase the annual share of Canadian oats in the market.

American Pulse Association

Collaboration efforts in agriculture continue to accelerate as the US Dry Pea and Lentil Council is working together with the Bean Council on an American Pulse Association. It is great news particularly in light of the Pulse Health Initiative. Tim McGreevy, CEO of the US Dry Pea and Lentil Council explained some of the key elements of the initiative to the International Food Trader magazine.

See his interview here.

An American Pulse Association would provide support in three areas of importance to the pulse industry.

“One of the first needs that we have is to address a significant lack of health and nutrition research on these crops. Some of the money under this initiative would go to study the real nutritional benefits of consuming these crops in relation to obesity and associated diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes and some cancers,” says McGreevy.

The second area of research would look at how pulse flours and fractions function as food ingredients with the hopes of adding value to pulses and introducing them into a wider array of food items. The third area looks to enhance pulse sustainability, such as the nitrogen-fixing ability of pulses, as well as yields.

“We have fallen well behind the major crops in terms of yield gains over the past 50 years,” notes McGreevy. “As the world population continues to expand, these crops are a key source of protein in the developing world and they are also a very inexpensive form of dietary fiber in the developed world that has problems with weight management. So we have to increase the yields of these low cost sources of protein and dietary fiber not only in this country but around the world, and the Pulse Health Initiative will help address that.”

Fortifying Fertilizers can Fortify Food

Esin Mete, President of the International Fertilizer Industry Association (IFA), makes a case for fortifying the land to fortify the food that grows on it:

As global leaders come together to discuss a new set of development goals to replace the Millennium Development Goals, that expire in 2015, the role of food security and nutrition is key in underpinning the development agenda’s future success.

It has been well documented that growth in the agricultural sector can have dramatic impacts in reducing poverty – in fact, at least twice the potential (see p. 6) of growth from any other sector on average, according to the World Bank.

As well, improved nutrition not only extends and improves people’s quality of lives but also plays a significant role in boosting their productivity and sustaining a healthy economy. The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation estimates that malnutrition alone costs the global economy around $3.5 trillion dollars each year (around 5% of global GDP) due to lost productivity and healthcare costs.

Read the entire post at

Hakan Bahceci Elected Chairperson of the Private Sector Mechanism

Hakan Bahceci, CEO of Dubai-headquartered Hakan Agro Group, has been elected the Chairperson of the Private Sector Mechanism (PSM) at the UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS) in Rome.

Bahceci recently took on additional responsibility as Chairman, International Agri-Food Network (IAFN), at the same time and will lead the network to bring together international agricultural associations, representing over 10,000 businesses worldwide. IAFN works on a variety of issues including providing the focal point for the CFS.

Read the entire article here.

Agricultural Extension - Plenty of Work to Go Around

Speaking at the International Food Policy Research Institute, I had the opportunity to stress the importance of having multiple actors engaged in agricultural extension. Too long underfunded and unimaginative, agricultural extension is experiencing a new renaissance. An excerpt of my remarks:

Agricultural extension is an essential element in the elaboration of local action to improve productivity, rural living standards, and food and nutritional security. All with the aim of reinforcing the belief that local communities can contribute greatly to drive the engines of their own growth. There is a pressing need for more effort in integrating actors at the lowest level, and implementing plans that allow them to be full participants in working within the vast scope covered by the worldwide effort to fight rural poverty and eradicate hunger.

Although considerable progress has been made in a plethora of fields by innumerable individuals, communities, and organizations, there are still major challenges in which agricultural extension programs can be instrumental to progress. These include, but are not limited to: integrating farmers into the wider market; increasing resource use efficiency; entrepreneurship training; adaptation including to climate changes that impact local growing areas and potentially threaten fertile land; and human and animal health; and gender equality.

These are serious issues, and still extremely relevant in spite of all the progress that has been achieved to date. Agricultural extension programs, however, have evolved, shifting from mere technology transfers towards programs based on advisory interaction and local-level empowerment. Whereas in its incipient steps agricultural extension was often defined by mere top-down approaches rooted in paternalistic attitudes. We have, collectively, moved forward from that into much more inclusive and participatory forms of agricultural extension. Models such as “training and visit”, appropriate in some cases, have now been surpassed by more progressive models of interaction.

There are three main providers of agricultural extension services; the public sector, the private non-profit sector, and the private for-profit sector. Obviously, there also exist circumstances in which distinct service providers can enter into a partnership to deliver more effective help. The private sector brings a pluralism of service providers, more than ready to interact with local communities on a demand-driven approach, rather than the supply-driven top-down programmes of the second half of the twentieth century. In a context of shrinking budgets and reduced staff numbers for traditional public-sponsored extension programs, the flexibility and innovation of the private sector can aid at a crucial time.

FAO Director-General Asks Private Sector to Support Anti-hunger Trust Fund

The FAO Director-General met with Private Sector Mechanism representatives at a meeting in Rome on October 10 and posted the following release to the FAO website:

“What the private sector does locally to combat hunger can quickly become global” - Graziano da Silva

"Many of the companies that are here today are present in many countries. This is important because what you do locally against hunger can quickly become global", said FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva in a private sector partnerships meeting held today.

At the meeting, Graziano da Silva announced that FAO has set up a multi-donor trust fund to allow private sector companies to financially contribute to the organization's work and support FAO projects and programmes. "I welcome and encourage you to join this partnership and kick start this newly established fund",he said.

FAO Director-General explained that FAO Members approved the Strategy for Partnerships with the Private Sector, which focuses around five main Strategic Objectives: "These are the areas where I would like us to work together".

Hakan Bahceci, Chairperson of the Private Sector Mechanism (PSM) at the UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS) in Rome, thanked FAO Director General for giving representatives of more than 10.000 companies the opportunity to meet and share priorities. He also expressed his support for the undergoing transformation in FAO to enhance cooperation with the private sector. "We share the 5 Strategic Objectives that FAO holds", he said.

Read the entire article here.

Call for Comments

Sustainable Agriculture Business Principles (SABPs) Consultation

The United Nations Global Compact invites stakeholders to inform a new plan for business to deliver voluntary global sustainable agriculture principles. Join a broad network of global leaders across industry, the United Nations and civil society who have committed to leverage their collective expertise and engage others in the development and delivery of new business principles for a more sustainable world. Convened by the UN Global Compact, a diverse network of experts have developed a White Paper on Sustainable Agriculture Business Principles (SABPs) that includes actions needed from business and other sectors, and key outcomes required to deliver sustainable agriculture globally.

Your voice and expertise will make a difference. Please share your views on the White Paper through the online consultation questionnaire. Your feedback will be used to develop the final SABPs. For more information, click here. Deadline for comments: 15 November 2013.

CFS Side Events

CFS Side Event - Fertilising Crops to Improve Human Health

October 8, 2013 | Rome, Italy | 12:30 - 2 pm | Austria Room

The speakers will present important case-studies of micronutrient fertilization in various parts of the world, emphasizing the impact on the health of the local populations, in particular reducing stunting among children, and on the role of partnerships.

HOST: H.E Hakki Akil: Ambassador, Embassy of Turkey to the Rome-Based Agencies
CHAIR: Ms Esin Mete: President of the International Fertilizer Industry Association (IFA) and CEO of Toros Agri-Industry Group, Turkey
SPEAKER: Dr Tom Bruulsema: Director at the International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI): Presentation of the Scientific Review, the Role of Micronutrient Fertilization.
SPEAKER: Dr Andrew Green: Director of the Zinc Nutrient Initiative, International Zinc Association, USA: Public-Private Partnerships, Promoting Zinc Fertilization in China and India.
SPEAKER: Dr Ismail Cakmak: Sabanci University, Turkey: A Success Zinc Story in Turkey and HarvestZinc Project.

CFS Side Event - Knowledge, Skills and Talent Development in the Agri-Food Sector

Recruiting talent into agriculture

October 9, 2013 | Rome, Italy | 8:30 - 9:30 am | Austria Room

Join a discussion in how to attract, recruit, and retain people to achieve growth, sustainability and security across the entire food chain.

SPEAKER: Lindiwe Majele Sibanda: Chief Executive Officer and Head of Mission, Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN), South Africa.
SPEAKER: Matteo Bartolini: President, European Council of Young Farmers, Italy
SPEAKER: Kristin Davis: Executive Secretary, Global Forum For Rural Advisory Services, Switzerland
SPEAKER: Patrick O’Quin: Vice President Multilateral Affairs, Danone, France
SPEAKER: Keith Polo: Lead of Agribusiness, ImagineNations, Italy

CFS Side Event - The Real Facts on Biofuels

October 9, 2013 | Rome, Italy | 6:00 - 7:30 pm | Austria Room

Experts from major producing areas will provide concrete insights into the operations of the sector and will explore the future sustainability models for biofuels.

SPEAKER: Eric Sievers: CEO, Ethanol Europe Renewables Ltd
SPEAKER: István Kaszab: Manager, Arago Agrar Ltdv
SPEAKER: Meghan Sapp: General Secretary, Pangea
SPEAKER: Jesper Hedal Kløverpris: LCA Specialist, Novozymes

CFS Side Event - Ideas Showcase: Examples of Responsible Agricultural Investment

October 10, 2013 | Rome, Italy | 6:00 - 7:30 pm | Iran Room

The focus will be on concrete examples of responsible agricultural investment and the best practices that make them work.

MODERATOR: Hakan Bahceci: President of CICILS and CEO of Hakan Foods
SPEAKER: Jonny Jacobs: Managing Director and Co-Founder, Malawi Mangoes
SPEAKER: James Little: Agriculture and Farming Manager, Rabofarm
SPEAKER: Laura Mecagni: Head of Global Agriculture and Food Security Program, International Finance Corporation (IFC)
SPEAKER: Giacomo Celi: CEO, Illy
SPEAKER: Tiberio Chari: Technical Director, Istituto Agronomico per l’Oltremare (IAO)
SPEAKER: John Young Simpson: Associate, Duxton Asset Management
SPEAKER: Mark Constantine: IFC

By accepting you will be accessing a service provided by a third-party external to