Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Future of Farming'The Future of Farming - The rise of the Rural Entrepreneur' by Edwin Van Raalte and Marjan Van Riel.

This book gives a realistic picture of today’s farming world and offers a thought-out way to feed everyone. The book shows we are at an important moment in the development of world agriculture.

One of the authors’ sources of information was a one week conference attended by 50 farmers from around the world, gathered in the Netherlands and hosted by Rabobank. By going directly to farmers, they learnt about the challenges farmers face. Their conclusion is that we must pay much more attention to what farmers are saying if the world is to be fed.
Their assessment is that feeding a world of 9 billion by 2050 is possible if we all play our part. This is an issue that will touch every household. The reader will come to a clearer understanding of his or her part in this worldwide challenge. The authors outline roles that need to be played by farmer, processor, distributor, retailer and consumer. Some chapters in the book will help you understand the broader picture, others the part you can play.

Some key points are as follows.

  • There is only 15% of land left that can be brought into use and we need to almost double food production.
  • The world’s best performers are 100 times better than their least productive colleagues.
  • Succession faces farmers in all parts of the world and plays an important part in how knowledge is handed from one generation to the next.
  • Sustainability: balancing the need for higher production and the quality of environment.
  • 'In general the places with the highest yields in the world are not the places with the best climate and soil quality but the places with the best Social Enabling Environment'.
  • Supply Chain: farm suppliers, processors and the retail chain in general make an adequate return while farms lag at the bottom, often making a loss. Farmers must get an adequate return if they are to improve the production and the efficiency of the farming industry.
  • Social media plays an important role in understanding the issues and expanding production in the farming world.

Through the book are facts and figures that illustrate the situation.

Among them is the recurring theme that we need to listen to farmers, hear what they have to say, end the discussions where experts talk about farming and not with farmers, and most important, if farmers are to grow the food that the world requires they need an adequate financial return.

Farmers cannot resolve the food security issue alone. This is a shared responsibility of consumers, retailers, producers, traders, governments, academics, banks and farmers.

Jim WiganIn the forward Piet Moreland, Chairman Executive Board Rabobank, writes- 'The world is on the verge of a global food crisis.'

Do read the book and discover how you can improve the role you are playing in this issue that is critical for the future of all of us.


Jim Wigan
Secretary Farmers' Dialogue International