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Tensions Rising?

Hakan Bahceci, Chairman of CICILS, the international pulse sector organisation recently gave a speech in Istanbul on a panel discussing: The Increasing Importance of Water, Food and Agriculture Within Next Ten Years: Would the tension rise with the tides?

Here are some of his opening remarks:

“We are on this panel today because agriculture has suddenly become interesting. For those of us in the food sector it always was. Honestly for anyone who likes to eat it should be interesting.

But why are there now panels after panels, conference after conference on food security? Quite simply because there IS actually a looming issue in food. More food will be eaten over the next half century than has been eaten by human beings since the dawn of history.

For decades, agriculture has chugged along producing more food per hectare year after year. It has been easy to ignore the fact that the vast majority of the poor live in rural areas and are themselves farmers. Even here in Turkey, for all our growth economically, some of the last to see the benefits have been our farmers.

But now the disinterest in agriculture has come home even to consumers. It is not just a matter for rural areas, because as population grows and productivity growth slows down, we really are struggling to keep with the demand for food. FAO says we need to produce 70% more to feed the global population in 2050.

In many developing and least developed countries, population growth outstrips production by far. For most countries population grows at over 2.5% while food production grows at less than 1.5%. This means that countries are not producing enough food for their people.

Where once carryovers of global stocks meant months of supply on hand we are now regularly down to 60-30 days supply. These consequences are real. As someone who buys and supplies food, I have to pay more to secure crops. That increase is passed on to the consumer. It means inflation, it means more people go hungry, and it can even mean political unrest.

The result is political attention on agriculture. Fair enough. Real attention is needed to kick-start research and foster production.”

It was a pleasure for Emerging Ag to assist with the preparation of his speech.

Robynne Anderson

Robynne has extensive experience in the agriculture and food sector, working throughout the value chain – from basic inputs to farmers in the field to the grocery store shelf. She works internationally in the sector, including speaking at the United Nations on agriculture and food issues, and representing the International Agri-Food Network at the UN.Throughout her career she has worked with farm organisations like the Prairie Oat Growers Association, the National Smallholder Farmers Association of Malawi and the Himalayan Farmers Association, as well as global groups, to further the voice of agriculture in the food debate. She has also worked with Fortune 500 companies growing worldwide businesses to assist them with issues management and strategy decisions.

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