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World Ag Congress : World Ag Congress
6 World Agricultural Forum 2009 Congress It is trite to say that we gather in a time in history when the world, especially the developed world, has had a huge wake-up call. The financial world as we knew it has been turned upside down and great banks and institutions that would have crashed have been propped up by billions of taxpayers' dollars effectively taken over by governments to save their customers from huge losses. All manner of rescue deals have been talked about, and thousands upon thousands of companies, large and small, have crashed around the world --- such a changed world scene. At an earlier time, all this world activity would have been seen as a great socialist takeover of private assets whereas now, with some exceptions, it is seen as a realistic response to a global crisis. That, again, highlights the scale of change that has taken place before our eyes. For me, the speed of response to the financial crisis is in sharp contrast to the somewhat reluctant response of meeting world poverty issues. A MOUNTING FOOD CRISIS The evidence mounts that the world could face a food crisis with the rapid growth in world population in the first 50 years of the 21st century, our century. Last month, Professor Douglas Kell, Chief Executive of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council in the UK, in a BBC interview called for greater coordination and funding of ag/food research in order to avoid the loom- ing food security crisis. He observed that only science can bring the levels of increased production that we need to ensure safe, nutritious and affordable food for everyone. He stated, "We need to increase the levels of food produc- tion, increase the nutritional food we produce and reduce waste in the food chain." Powerful, powerful call to action. A little earlier last month, the G8 group of developed nations developed a very pessimistic report stating that "the world faces a permanent food crisis and global instability." Note that, "unless countries act now to feed a surging population by doubling agricultural output by 2050." To have any hope of meeting targets such as doubling food production means all countries must apply the same energy and focus on food production as they have on the financial crisis. The good news is that the num- ber living in absolute poverty has reduced. That is mainly because of China's success in implementing policies that have moved hundreds of millions of their people out of poverty. Unfortunately, the rest of the world has made only model progress. There is a certain irony that in the middle of the biggest financial crisis in 70 years, the world is forced to face issues that have been ignored in the past. THE WORLD CANNOT CONTINUE AS BEFORE The world, as we have known, it cannot and will not continue as before. The absolute growth in world popula- tion, coupled with the rapid aging of the population in the rich, developed world, will usher in profound shifts in power and politics. Going forward, the big question is, what approach to financial OPENING ADDRESS FROM THE CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD OF ADVISORS THE NATURE OF OUR CHALLENGE by the Rt. Honorable James B. Bolger, ONZ, Former Prime Minister of New Zealand; Chairman, World Agricultural Forum The Rt. Honorable James B. Bolger, ONZ, former New Zealand Prime Minister Panelists include (l to r) Michael Bennett, CEO, Terra Industries; David Morgan, President, Syngenta Seeds, Inc.; James Bolger, Chairman, World Agricultural Forum; Professor Nuhu Hatibu, CEO, The Kilimo Trust; Carl Hausmann, President/CEO, Bunge North America, and J.B. Penn, Chief Economist, John Deere.