Involve farmers in the global food debate

Without farmers, there is no food. So when experts and policymakers debate global food issues they should take the views of innovative farmers into account. Berry Marttin, Rabobank Executive Board Member, explains why this is both necessary and important.

‘Rabobank recently organised the Global Farmers Master Class in Australia in which 40 leading progressive and innovative farmers from 12 countries participated. The Master Class generated discussion of the key developments these farmers face, and which we as a food and agri bank face as well: succession issues, sustainability, improvements in the value chain and the social position of farmers and growers.

They all addressed these themes from their own business perspectives, ranging from a soy grower in Brazil and a potato grower in Australia to a dairy farmer in the Netherlands. The discussions revealed how much they all have in common, and the shared challenges in the context of the global food debate. The Master Class really energised all of the participants – including myself!’

F20 food summit

‘This Master Class in Australia flowed into the F20 summit that was attended by 650 participants from the food and agri world. We organised this F20 in preparation for the G20 Leaders’ Summit that was held in Australia a few days later.

The food supply has been on the world leaders’ agendas for several years now, in particular how to enable smaller farmers in Asia and Africa to increase their production. While this is an important issue, and one which Rabobank is also addressing, it’s not the only issue that should be on the agenda. Farmers that are already working with innovative and progressive farming methods also need to achieve more production, more sustainably. These progressive farmers and their ideas were the main focus of the F20 summit. We will pass on the F20 conclusions as input to the world leaders.‘

Farmers have practical ideas for improvements

‘The F20 summit gave our progressive farming clients a platform for their ideas. It is my firm conviction that their views need to be heard more clearly at the expert meetings where the global food issue is discussed.

Rabobank has set out a clear vision for the global food issue and the bank’s role in relation to it. Our Banking for Food agenda complements that of other organisations involved in the global food issue. That’s why Rabobank is invited to take part in debates around the world on these issues. This is both an honour and a responsibility.

We participate in numerous fora and platforms that address the global food issue. We sit at the table with  the world’s best scientists and experts, but farmers do not have a place at these discussion tables. I’ve always found this remarkable considering that they are the ones who produce the food and  know from experience how things can be done better and more sustainably. The Global Farmers Master Class has strengthened that belief.’

Farmers at the roots of Rabobank

‘Deploying our networks to give a platform to our farmers and their ideas is a  a new dimension for us but in absolutely in line with our roots of Rabobank. Founded for farmers in 1898, today we are a bank in which clients and members join us in the dialogue about our products and services. We also provide our clients access to a network, in the same way as we provide access to finance and to the knowledge which we have developed in the entire food chain over the past 115 years.

By giving progressive farmers a voice in the food challenge debate, we contribute to creating a sustainable global food supply, to improving the economic position of the farmers and horticulturalists themselves and consequently also that of Rabobank. And this is Rabobank’s aim: to strengthen clients and their environments.’

Read more