The phrase “world hunger” is widely recognized throughout the United States. Yet, what does the phrase really imply? More importantly, what can we, as members of a developed, net food exporting nation do to help? Monday, May 21, 2013 marked the second annual World Affairs Council of Atlanta’s Global Health & Hunger Summit. The summit focused on issues related to world hunger by presenting the thoughts and opinions of some of the best and brightest individuals in the realm of public health, public policy, and industry leaders whose line of work revolves around providing food to our planet.
United States, Georgia state Senator Johnny Isakson, led the opening discussion. Mr. Isakson explained that providing food to developing countries is much more than demonstrating The United States’ generosity and dedication towards helping people in need. Providing food security is not only an act of aid, but a matter of national security. Senator Isakson highlighted that terrorist organizations target the, “Hungry, Ignorant, and Thirsty” to strengthen their forces. Thus, providing food serves not only to make a healthier world, but also a safer one. That’s a fact that is often forgotten when world hunger is discussed; however, intuitively, it makes a great deal of sense.
The Atlanta Summit on Global Health & Hunger also emphasized the importance of child nutrition. The speakers endorsed the introduction of micro-nutrients into children’s diets to prevent stunting, the implementation of plans and educational tools for pregnant women in developing nations, and using cash and vouchers to feed hungry families across the world. This differs from the previously used method of shipping supplies directly to the people in need. Possible solutions were offered that might help to reduce the problem of child malnutrition: investing in female education, providing supplements to children in developing nations, and most importantly engaging the national government of the country in need.
As a member of the audience, it became clear that something was missing. Certainly, research facilities, non-profit organizations, and publicly funded medical institutes are absolutely crucial in assuaging world hunger; yet, part of the entire picture remained unpainted. A developing nation needs economic catalysts to foster sustainable food security systems within their own communities as well as for the global economy. This can be to provide them with the equipment, means of communication, income, and infrastructure necessary for growth to occur. There was only one actor in my mind that is capable of conducting this feat: corporations. The Collaborations Across Sectors- Successes and Challenges panel discussed the connections between corporations, research foundations, public agencies, and non-profit organizations to the overall picture of solving world hunger.
Corporations such as AGCO, UPS, and the Coca-Cola Company invest in emerging markets to support, and often times facilitate the country’s growth. Eric Raby, AGCO’s VP of Global Marketing and Commercial Development shared the panel with the Coca-Cola Company’s Denise McKnight (Global Sustainable Agriculture Director), Eduardo Martinez (President, UPS Foundation), and Jeff Johnson ( President, Birdsong Peanuts Company) to discuss the successes and challenges associated with collaborating efforts across sectors in developing nations. Conducting operations in foreign lands—especially in developing nations—is never an easy task. One of the issues revolves around coordinating efforts with the local population. For an operation to work, every affected party needs to be involved. It is for this reason that AGCO purchased a farm in Lusaka, Zambia. The farm will serve as one of AGCO’s Global Learning Centers and Future Farms. It will educate, acclimate, and spread best-practice knowledge to the members of the local community. Mr. Raby concluded with, “Success will be longer when you involve the people already inhabiting a place.”
World Hunger is a serious issue. Almost a billion children and adults in the world are victims of hunger and malnutrition. The Atlanta Summit on Global Health & Hunger highlighted that it will take coordinating the efforts of everyone—the non-profit groups, members of academia, public policy legislators, members of local communities, and corporations—to truly make a difference. AGCO has demonstrated its commitment to helping ease the problem of world hunger, and plans to continue in the future.
Africa Industrialization day strives to bring global media awareness to the challenges that face Africa’s progression towards becoming a more industrialized nation. In 1989, the United Nations general assembly proclaimed November 20th as Africa Industrialization Day. The observation of this day is managed by The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO). UNIDO is heavily invested in assisting Africa with its continued development of new technology, infrastructure, and mechanization.
As we explore ways to support our growing population, many believe that Africa may hold the key to finding a solution. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), 15% of the world’s arable land is located in Africa. As of today, it is estimated that 86% of this land remains unutilized. However, through training in efficient farming practices and technology, farmers in Africa can be enabled manage this fertile land. In order for professional farming to succeed in Africa, governments and members of the private sector must work together and invest in Africa’s future.
AGCO understands the potential solutions that Africa may provide in our mission to address global food scarcity. That is why we are committed to investing USD 100 million for the development of Africa’s agriculture. AGCO’s Zambia model farm and training center will teach general mechanization to small and medium scale farmers, and provide training to large scale farmers on how to operate high specification tractors. Jason Burbidge, our General Manager of AGCO Zambia, states that “While there is no one solution to address food production and food security, AGCO is right at the heart of a sustained and carefully planned effort, developing capabilities that will help ensure farmers know how to produce food efficiently and responsibly.”
There is no doubt that growing Africa’s agricultural sector will be challenging. Earlier this year, AGCO hosted its first Africa Summit. Discussions took place about the challenges facing Africa’s agriculture, and ideas for managing them were shared. We look forward to reporting back on the progress that we and our partners have made for Africa’s agriculture.
Africa’s population grows towards 2 billion people, it is evident that further industrialization and development in agricultural must take place for the country to sustain itself. In order for this to happen, commitments must be made by governments and organizations globally. Learn more about AGCO’s contribution to sustainable development in the 2011 AGCO Sustainability report (page 41).
Here’s another example of how waste can be reduced on the farm!
Farm sustainability via use of organic fertilizer.
Our farm has been practicing sustainable agriculture for its obvious economical and environmental benefits. In attaining this sustainability, we utilize the goat’s manure from the barn as organic fertilizer in the orchard. Through this approach, we capitalize the organic fertilizer’s versatility and robustness in improving the soil properties through multi-pronged ways structurally, biologically and nutritionally. In addition to fostering improvement in the quality of soil, this method averts the relying on chemical fertilizers.
With orchard nourished organically, the farm nurtures itself as a promoter of organic farm products, keeping tab with the increasing worldwide demand of this niche, which has been growing steadily at a rate close to 9% annually for the past decade. Higher demand converts into competitive pricing and therefore, boosting the farm’s revenues, and placing it a competitive position for organic supply niche.
In 1979, the Food and Agriculture Association of the United Nations (FAO) proclaimed October 16th as World Food Day.
Today is a global observance designed to raise awareness and understanding of different approaches to ending hunger. Food is a wonderful thing, and thanks to new technology and innovation in farming practices, farmers today are able feed around seven billion people globally! However, because our population is growing at such a fast pace, there are still roughly a billion people around the world that do not get enough food. This means that almost 1 in 7 people go to bed hungry every night. As our population has grown, hunger has become an increasingly prevalent issue. World Food Day seeks to remind us of this challenge, and also spotlight the different ways in which we can help the farmers tasked with overcoming it. Every year, World Food Day is accompanied with a theme. Last year, the theme was “Food prices- from crisis to stability.” This year, the theme is “Agricultural Cooperatives- key to feeding the world.” As many farmers know, an agricultural cooperative is a member owned organization which allows farmers to pool all of their resources into different areas of activity. According to the FAO, agricultural Co-ops are fundamental in providing solutions to the hunger problem because they allow smallholder farms to negotiate better prices for resources such as seed, fertilizer, and equipment. Take for example one of AGCO’s customers, Agrifirm. Agrifirm is a Dutch cooperative that serves over 17,000 Dutch farmers and horticulturists. They offer “maximum purchasing advantage of high quality products like animal feeds, seeds, fertilizers and pesticides.” In addition to product purchasing power, Agrifirm also offers knowledge and sustainable solutions to its members. Cooperatives such as Agrifirm allow farmers to access to knowledge and equipment that will help boost farm productivity at a lower cost. The more that small scale farms are able to produce, the better they will be able to support their local regions. This is why the U.N believes agricultural cooperatives to be a key element in providing for our world. It is no secret that farmers are faced with a huge task in supplying food, fiber and fuel for a rapidly growing population. It will not be easy—but with the proper resources, continued advances in technology, and widespread participation—it will be possible. Learn more about world food day, and see how you can help make a difference!
Maintaining farm sustainability for a small agribusiness
Sinar Utara Agrofarm (SUA), a small Malaysia-based farm that breeds over 100 goats and is host to a six-acre plantation orchard has always been an advocate of farm sustainability. We started this focus some four years ago. Central to this effort is our emphasis on a zero-waste concept. On our farm, the zero-waste concept is driven by recycling elements, which is acutely orchestrated through effective farming dispositions.
Here, the waste or residue from sugar cane and Napier grass are turned into compost used to maintain the soil humidity during hot or drought season. As the country resides within the tropical climate demography, embracing hot and humid season throughout the year, this practical approach is highly beneficial. The residue, made up of organic matters, self decompose into nutrient-rich compost which makes it a fitting conditioner that keeps the soil moist. Mobilizing the farm-generated materials back into its operating fold truly defines SUA’s ratifying commitment to sustainable farming. It has also benefits the farm by keeping the expenses at a minimum, bolstering optimization of resources, and aiding creation of healthy farming environment.