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Sustainable Intensification through Local Mechanization: Q&A with Cory Reed, John Deere
The following blog post is excerpted from an interview with Cory J. Reed, Global Marketing Services senior vice president for the John Deere Agriculture and Turf Division. The interview was conducted by GHI executive director Dr. Margaret Zeigler. As of June 2013, Mr. Reed represents John Deere on the GHI Board of Directors, a role most recently held by Dr. J.B. Penn, chief economist, John Deere.
Margaret Zeigler: What do you feel is the potential of the Global Harvest Initiative and why is John Deere a member of the organization?
Cory Reed: In working with John Deere, I have had the opportunity to travel around the world looking at agriculture and working with a broad range of producers in many regions. There are tremendous gains that can be achieved by leveraging the best practices from what we already know how to do and solve the biggest challenge going forward: meeting the food demand of a growing population. The Global Harvest Initiative brings together the best of private industry, government, academia and NGOs to exchange best practices and solve challenges to lay the path forward for better food systems, from the farm level all the way up to the consumer.
MZ: Why is GHI’s collaboration among companies and consultative partners important?
CR: Agriculture and food production involves a number of factors, and it’s important to be able to back away from our individual space and have others take a critical look at what we are doing and the environment we’re impacting. Having thoughtful partners to consult with allows us to operate in the best interests of long-term preservation of our environment. It also allows for collaboration between some of the most innovative leaders in the industry to solve the issue of producing what we need with the same or less impact.
MZ: What is the role of agricultural productivity in addressing global food and nutrition security?
CR: Agricultural productivity helps get the forces in the industry to align on the challenge and allows us to see needs at both the global and more local levels. John Deere is working on global sustainable intensification through local mechanization. Focusing on the needs of smallholder farmers, we begin to realize there is no “one-size-fits-all” for the industry. Every geography is unique, and before we can provide solutions in a specific market, we need to start with the people who understand the needs and challenges. Having a market-appropriate understanding is extremely important. And bringing mechanization in an individualized way will not only improve productivity and efficiency of crop output, but will fundamentally improve the quality of life of producers around the world.
MZ: What are some of the biggest obstacles we face in meeting the needs of a growing population?
CR: I am reminded as I travel the globe that producing food for the growing population is an issue of critical importance. The biggest obstacles we face include educating farmers about mechanization, industry collaboration to leverage inputs to foster growth, and addressing the scarcity of fresh water.
John Deere focuses on local implementation of mechanization: We can’t encourage adoption of new technology until we understand how each producer does what they do. Once we have a local understanding, we can bring market-appropriate solutions and education to solve each producer’s specific needs.
We are focusing on ways to provide producers with the tools they need to use scarce inputs productively, such as fresh water, in a responsible and efficient manner through their operations. Mechanization alone won’t solve agricultural productivity; we need appropriate policies that encourage industry collaboration, government involvement, and technology to build the appropriate solution sets for each market.