We’re helping to answer the question

Posted by on March 29th, 2010 | 0 Comments »

Recently, when agricultural leaders and stakeholders gathered in Paris for the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Ministerial Meeting – the first such assembly since 1998 – a critical question was posed to a roundtable of agriculture ministers, organizations and corporate leaders: “What actions are you prioritizing to prepare the food and agriculture system for the needs of a rapidly changing world?”

Of course, that is the question that all of us, inside and outside of agriculture, must answer sooner rather than later as “the global food and agriculture system will have to provide sustainably for billions more people and meet greater demands on quality, affordability and availability. Farming will be competing with other sectors for land, water and investment, while climate change adds new pressures,” an OECD paper stated in outlining the challenges.

The question posed to ministers from Austria, New Zealand, Canada, Germany and Chile as well as leading representatives such as Samuel R. Allen, Chairman and CEO, Deere & Company (and a founding GHI member), Concern Worldwide and the World Trade Organization, received some insightful responses that asserted there is much being done to address the issue of feeding more people in the future, but also emphasized that there is much more to be done.

Here’s a portion of Allen’s response:

A crucial element in meeting the future needs of a growing, more affluent global population is accelerated innovation across the entire food system-from farm production through distribution, right to the final consumer. This entails closing the critical gap between the historical trend rate of agricultural productivity growth and the far faster pace required to meet future needs. Closing this gap will enable sustainably feeding a growing world while meeting the environmental, resource and other goals of our global society. Achieving such a monumental task involves embracing all types of modern production practices, including conventional and organic agriculture, and producers of all sizes and types, from subsistence to commercial…

You can read the rest of the responses here:  OECD-Ministerial-Agriculture (2).pdf.

Many of the same ideas advanced at OECD were reiterated recently at our 2010 Symposium, Closing the Gap: Examining an Alternative Future. As such, we are reminded that our scope is a global one, when it comes to advocating for policies and solutions that will help to sustainably close the productivity gap in agriculture. The Global Harvest Initiative, like the OECD, is but a piece of this worldwide effort to get this very critical discussion on the radar of policymakers everywhere.

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