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World Ag Congress : World Ag Congress
8 World Agricultural Forum 2009 Congress Q: It is a fallacy to say we cannot feed the world; truly we just need to get organized to do so. The U.N. figures about one billion go to bed hungry every night. We have another three billion coming down the track, what should we do tomorrow as a community? A (Penn): It is not a technical problem to feed the world. We certainly have the machinery, we have the inputs, we have the genetics. It is just a matter of getting the political situa- tion right so that you attract the investment. Investment is not going to flow into unstable areas; it is not going to flow into poorly governed areas no matter what the natural resource base is. First and foremost, we have to get the political system correct, then the investment will follow. With the investment comes the technology, the improved input, the trading systems --- all of the other things that we need. Q: Where might biofuels, growing grains for fuel, fit into the broader question of the morality of using land that can grow food growing fuel? A (Morgan): If we are thinking about the potential of agriculture and we think about plants as the prime source of renewable resources, we have to think very diligently about what that means for agricultural systems around the world or the balance in the global context with trade, as well as agricultural com- modities that on the one hand can reliably supply food needs, but at the same time provide alternative uses. We talk about the potential of plants, not necessarily food commodities, but plants for the creation of new needs that society has due to the increasing demand for fuel. Ultimately, we will need to think of new agricultural systems which look at plants as a source of energy, and mix the technology to convert non-food plants into energy sources. But that will require considerations around trade and will certainly require considerations around creating agricultural productivity systems, and will unquestionably require governments to see a more liberal integrated agricultural system that can encompass food and feed as part of the overall approach. Q: The question that seems to be overarching everything here is political will. How do we change perception? How do we start to move some of the political perspectives? A (Penn): There are institutions. We have the World Bank and the IMF and the National Development Institutions, and we have the Regional and Development Banks, so we have some institutional structure to begin to do this. We also have national initiatives. I would just cite the Millenium Challenge Corporation, one of the U.S. government's development initia- tives which focuses on governance and on the agriculture sector. It has, thus far, done a remarkable job. It is still early. We do not have a long enough history to have a proven track record yet, but I think that is a possibility. There are other ways, in which, we have to focus on the second wave. Once the country has a stable political system and has the right policy environment, then how do we make the capital flow? What kind of institutional structure do we need to get the capital and the technology into the country? There are rudi- ments of the solution around, we just need to elaborate on those. A (Hatibu): One of the things that we need to basically do is to bring it to the forefront where the poor are and make it a big political issue. India has been very successful in lifting millions of people out of poverty, but it is still home to the largest number of poor people. Subsistence agricul- ture is the trap that is keeping the people of India in poverty despite huge developments. It is the same thing that you see in Africa. Today, 70% of the poorest people in the world are in subsistent agriculture. It should not be allowed to happen. It is against human rights to actually trap people in that kind of level of poverty because of your interna- tional policies or your national food policies. We need to really be able to bring these to the forefront. WAF THE NATURE OF THE AG CHALLENGE J.B. Penn, Chief Economist, John Deere; David Morgan, President, Syngenta Seeds, Inc. and Prof. Nuhu Hatibu, CEO, The Kilimo Trust, East Africa Q & A SESSION WITH R. HON. JAMES B. BOLGER, CHAIRMAN, WORLD AGRICULTURAL FORUM, MODERATOR TAKE-AWAY INSIGHTS FROM ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION "Was the Research and Develop- ment (R&D) community doing enough to address the issue? There is plenty of evidence that has shown R&D has focused on improving the productivity of agriculture ... R&D has immense capacity to take things forward into the future, but the constraints placed on R&D is something that worries me profoundly. It goes back to the perennial issue about government attitudes toward agriculture and constraints on the technological opportunities that R&D is generating for agriculture." "I do not think that trade is more managed than it was not long ago, but we need to lock in the gains that we have. We need to complete the Doha round, we need to lock in the gains that the negotiators have made and then begin to look at how we strengthen the World Trade Organization." "A year ago when we had the global food issues and crisis, the extent to which governments were prepared to dialogue with us, there was a sea of change in attitude, there was an immense opening of a dialogue which, sadly, because of the chang- ing economic situation, has deflated again. We lost. The world lost the opportunity to a good debate which was emerging."