F20 calls for food security investment

13 November 2014 - Increased investment in agricultural research & development, storage capacity, logistics and education will be critical in feeding the world sustainably by the year 2050. This was the call to action by the Rabobank F20 (Food) Summit, in Sydney Australia.

The F20 was attended by more than 650 farmers and international agribusiness industry participants. Among them were 40 farmers from 12 countries who had attended the Rabobank Global Farmers Master Class in the previous week. On 13 November #rabof20 was trending topic in Australia. Conclusion from the F20 Summit will be presented in a memorandum for review by stakeholders and as input for world leaders meeting at the G20 Leaders’ Summit in Australia. Jim Woodhill, from the Australian G20 Taskforce on Food Security & Nutrition, also contributed to the F20.

Farmers need a strong voice at the table

‘The world is facing huge challenges in food security. Addressing these challenges is a shared responsibility between the world’s political and food and agribusiness leaders’, said Berry Marttin, Rabobank Executive Board member. ‘We need collective solutions under a shared responsibility. However it is crucial that farmers, who after all are the ones producing this food, have a strong voice at the table.’ The F20 Summit heard a video message from Daniel Gustafson, Deputy Director General at the UN Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO): ‘We greatly appreciate the unique opportunity of the F20 for the global food and agribusiness community to unite, to raise awareness and propose solutions to world leaders.’
Rabobank is active globally as a food and agri bank – on all continents and across the entire value chain from farmer to plate. Under the motto ‘Banking for Food’, Rabobank has developed a vision on food security and the role the bank has to play in this field: providing access to financing, knowledge and networks, such as the F20. Marttin: ‘Because a strong sector is good for the businesses themselves, it is good for the world food situation, for the world economy and for us as a bank.’

Need to talk about the positive aspects of agriculture

Why is the food challenge such a big issue? This is because each month the world population is growing by as many people as the entire population of Hong Kong. In contrast, the number of hectares of land per capita around the world is decreasing from 1.2 in 1960 to 0.4 in 2050. In reality, 0.3 hectare per capita could feasibly be sufficient in 2050 if the entire chain operates efficiently.
The necessary new ideas and investments only will emerge if society take a different approach to food and agriculture, the challenges and complexity.During the F20, Brent Finlay, Board member of the World Farmers Organisation, also called for a shift in emphasis within the public discussion: ‘We need to talk about the positive aspects of agriculture rather than the problems, because otherwise we will not attract young people.’

Food starts with the farmer

Without agri there is no food. That’s a clear message during the F20. No matter how efficiently the entire food chain operates, food starts with the farmer. Farms that can develop, which are attractive for younger generations, farms that earn money. That’s why it’s important to improve education and access to information on food and agriculture and to address imbalances in market power across food supply chains.

Farmers need to take a different approach

Farmers and growers also have to set about working on developing a sector that is profitable, appreciated by society and attracts enthusiastic buyers and employees. This outcome of the Global Farmers Master Class was expressed during the F20. It is about more efficiency in production, more transparency, more information and more self-confidence with respect to how farmers ensure high-quality food. And even though they are dependent upon nature and the climate, farmers should change their approach in the market. They should collaborate more within cooperatives and be less supply-driven.