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Realizing a New Vision for Agriculture: A roadmap for stakeholders
The World Needs a New Vision for Agriculture
Agriculture provides much more than food. It offers essential commodities, environmental services and social goods that facilitate economic development, industrialization and diversification. From its inception, the purpose of agriculture has been to feed and fuel human activity. And now, it is more important than ever. The world must produce more with less. The sector is entering a new era, marked by scarcer resources, greater demand and higher risks of volatility. Since agriculture accounts for 70% of water use and up to 30% of greenhouse gas emissions, it contributes to and is threatened by environmental degradation. This will be exacerbated as the growing population demands more food – nearly double today’s levels by 2050 – and more resource-intensive produce such as meat and dairy. Agriculture can better fulfil the world’s most basic social needs. Nearly 1 billion people go hungry today – half of them farmers – and malnutrition severely impedes human and economic development. Three-quarters of the poor live in rural areas, most relying on agriculture for their livelihood. In many regions, women contribute the bulk of farm labour. Farmers can be among the greatest beneficiaries of agricultural development and are at the core of the solution.
The Time to Act Is Now: Committing to 20/20/20
The New Vision for Agriculture strives to harness the power of agriculture to drive food security, environmental sustainability and economic opportunity. Its aspirations are high, not least of which are to increase production by 20% while decreasing emissions by 20% and reducing the prevalence of rural poverty by 20% every decade.
These goals are intended to build on the Millennium Development Goals and other international targets by coordinating and concentrating the efforts of agricultural players around the world.
We must act together with scale and speed. Market-based approaches are essential to implementing viable solutions, as is collaboration among farmers, private industry, governments and civil society.
The challenge is enormous, but the opportunity is both substantial and achievable.
Innovative Tools Can Break Bottlenecks in the Value Chain
Constraints can be found at every stage of the agricultural chain, from research to consumption. While common problems affect agriculture in many countries, such as inadequate access to inputs, finance and storage, the most effective solutions to breaking these bottlenecks vary between regions and systems.
Agriculture is and must continue to be innovation-driven. Many players have developed highly effective point interventions to address bottlenecks in the value chain, improving input technologies and farmer capabilities, for example. The technical know-how of global institutions must be combined with the resourceful acumen of local entrepreneurs to inspire new breakthroughs. Achieving the New Vision requires a greater number of these successes, adopted quickly at scale.
Sparking a Virtuous Cycle of Increasing Skill and Investment
Realizing agriculture’s full potential as a driver of food security, environmental sustainability and economic opportunity requires fundamentally shifting the way the system operates. Innovative tools only work if they are supported by the right policy, infrastructure and market structure. Improved seed does not yield a full harvest without soil management and storage; an improved harvest can result in price erosion and regional surplus without appropriate market links.
A New Generation of Agricultural Initiatives
In a few places, governments, businesses and civil society are spearheading these virtuous cycles by orchestrating and accelerating investments to change agricultural systems holistically. Many such approaches are in the early stages, but have the potential to transform even the most challenged geographies. Examples of robust collaboration concentrate on a particular crop or geographic region, such as value chain interventions, infrastructure corridors, breadbaskets and national sector transformations. By coordinating their efforts, stakeholders can mitigate risk, leverage their contributions and build on each other’s competencies to harness market forces for sustainable growth. Every Stakeholder Has a Critical Role The scale of the challenge will require everyone to step up their efforts. Governments must lead, setting the direction for their country’s transformation and creating the right environment to achieve it. Businesses drive implementation through innovation, investment and competition. Civil society mobilizes and supports communities, manages risk, builds local capacity and bridges gaps not addressed by the market. The companies leading this initiative commit to realizing the new vision for agriculture. But they cannot do it alone.
Goals of the New Vision Agriculture
The Goals of the New Vision Agriculture can be a positive driver of food security, environmental sustainability and economic opportunity. It is the only sectoral investment that addresses these three pressing issues simultaneously. Each part of this Vision is vital to the long-term viability and success of agriculture. What do we envision with this New Vision? Consider the following: as a farmer, you feed your family and the wider community. You produce enough to earn a living without compromising the ecosystem. You have the knowledge to make better decisions about what to grow and how to grow it. Your produce reaches consumers, who can make informed choices for a healthy diet. The obesity epidemic is curbed and mass hunger is eliminated. Clean water is available when and where it is needed; we A global agriculture system that harnesses the power of markets and multi stakeholder collaboration to feed the world, protect our planet and create prosperity ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY Conserve or enhance the quality and quantity of natural resources; meet the challenges of changing climate ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY FOOD SECURITY Meet nutritional demands while providing affordable choices across the food value chain ENVIRONMENT Conserve or e quantity of nat the challenges TY demands while able choices value chain ...while generating economic growth and opportunity Provide food security for all... …in an environmentally sustainable way continue to rely on biodiversity for daily and future needs. People along the agricultural value chain can pursue livelihoods and create jobs – not just on farms, but in industry, business and services. Men and women are motivated and rewarded for inventions that improve their food system and living standards. Rural parents can raise their children to lead fulfilling and healthy lives. To help realize these aspirations, the New Vision is anchored to three core goals. These build on the foundation of the Millennium Development Goals and other international targets by coordinating and concentrating the efforts of agricultural players around the world. Provide food security for all … Meet nutritional demands while providing affordable choices across the food value chain
• Increase agricultural production by 20% each decade and substantially reduce waste, towards the elimination of hunger and undernourishment Achieving food security requires more than increasing production – although sufficient supply is necessary. Building this pillar of the New Vision will require improvements across the supply chain to close yield gaps, promote efficient distribution, minimize waste and improve food access. It will also involve focused efforts to engage the most vulnerable and bring them into the broader agriculture system. Consumers will have to be educated to make the best choices and minimize spoilage and waste. A critical focal point is maternal and child health, as this is a proven axis for a community’s broader nutritional status. … in an environmentally sustainable way … Conserve or enhance the quality and quantity of natural resources; meet the challenges of a changing climate Supporting Nutritional Security Proper nutrition is essential for human development and productivity. Ensuring proper nutrition requires robust agriculture systems globally, as well as appropriate awareness and decision-making locally. Nutritious food must first be available. This involves balancing crop choices (e.g. vegetables), as well as appropriate varieties (e.g. biofortification) to meet protein, caloric and micro-nutrient requirements. Nutritious food must also be affordable to enable equitable access. This entails both improving consumers’ incomes and lowering costs through supply chain efficiencies and product design. Finally, consumers must choose and absorb healthy nutrition. This can be furthered by delivering evidence-based and locally appropriate options (e.g. supplementation, diverse menus), raising community awareness and promoting healthy practices such as breast-feeding and proper sanitation. An emerging area of focus is the interaction between agriculture, nutrition and health. While historically managed as separate sectors, these are increasingly recognized as closely interlinked parts of a larger chain, in which agriculture serves as a driver of human health through its delivery of nutritional needs. This requires a broader framework for managing health – including both over and under-nutrition – within the context of a sustainable food system.
• Reduce emissions per tonne of production by 20% each decade; optimize overall water use; lessen agricultural impact on the environment
Agricultural production need not be a detriment to the planet; in fact, it can be a linchpin of sustainability. It provides vital ecosystem services such as watershed management and carbon sequestration that offset industrial growth. The New Vision strives for an absolute minimization of the environmental footprint, beginning with reductions in its impact relative to production. This includes limiting greenhouse gas emissions and water consumption while preserving soil health and biodiversity. It necessitates judicious use of technologies, monocultures and cropland expansion. It will also require technological breakthroughs to help farmers adapt to the consequences of climate change, enable production and mitigate risk under increasingly difficult conditions. … while generating economic growth and opportunity. Drive rural and national economic development around the globe with well-targeted investments
• Decrease the proportion of rural inhabitants living on less than US$ 1.25/day by 20% each decade Agriculture is the predominant driver of growth in many low- and middle-income countries, and GDP growth from agriculture has proven to be more effective at reducing poverty than growth originating in other sectors. Investing in the success of rural populations is vital to equitable human development. This involves targeting those below the poverty line and enabling the growth of rural economies with widespread access to transport, energy and information. Farmers who earn can spend, supporting jobs and incomes for local businesses and service providers. Thriving local communities can invest more in education and healthcare, propelling productivity. Reaching the central goals of the New Vision will require contributions from every stakeholder of global agriculture: developed and developing countries, exporters and importers, large-scale producers and subsistence growers. Farmers will need to be engaged and empowered in every system. Large commercial players are critical to stabilizing global supply and can apply sustainable practices at scale. Smallholders, who currently lack access to critical inputs and markets, will be vital to meeting local nutritional and economic needs. Pursuing the New Vision’s three objectives simultaneously will inevitably require careful societal choices and tradeoffs.
Mobilizing Business as an Agent of Change
Given these historical successes and today’s need for broad-based action in agriculture, stakeholders are beginning to orchestrate their efforts to spark such virtuous cycles. An initial challenge in developing countries is how to reach and engage millions of smallholders and rural consumers: it is impractical for a single institution to address the varying barriers in every village. If profit incentives are aligned with the goals of agricultural development and appropriate social safeguards, businesses have the motivation and capability to drive localized change. This applies to family-owned shops as well as multinational corporations. In many areas today, there are impediments to robust private sector involvement. In addition to ensuring the right policies, infrastructure and market structure, stakeholders may help attract and accelerate private investment. For instance, the government can offer timebound financial incentives (such as land or tax breaks) to offset startup costs; foundations can provide seed funding for research and logistics; and NGOs can organize and train producers so they offer a critical mass of talent. In attracting local businesses, it is critical to consider economic scale and sustainability: forward-looking business models that allow for sufficient ongoing operating profit without long-term dependence on operating subsidies. Achieving the New Vision requires the private sector to be engaged as an active partner. This includes, but is not limited to, traditional competencies such as technological expertise, financing and sourcing. It also extends to more proactive roles like private extension, smallholder aggregation (e.g. nucleus farms, warehouses), nutrition education and multistakeholder coordination. In stepping up to lead the transformative process, companies can harness the power of markets to deliver enduring impact. “Farming at any scale is a business, and smallholders and producers must be treated as entrepreneurs.” Kanayo Nwanze President, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)
Models of Collaboration
Emerging examples of holistic approaches (not exhaustive): National sector transformation Value-chain intervention b Infrastructure corridor c d Breadbasket Pol icy Tools st ur t c r u e Ma kr t e Infrastruct ure a Broad policy scheme that renovates market structure to spur private investment towards specific economic and social objectives Business investments in the production of a particular crop to improve the value of goods from planting through to consumption Coordinated investment in an infrastructure system to jumpstart and facilitate rural markets and reduce logistical inefficiencies Concentrated investment in an area with high agricultural potential and many smallholder farmers to increase production of staples.
Moving Forward Together
These transformation models build on the lessons of past successes and try to address shortcomings of previous approaches by being socially inclusive, forward-looking and market-oriented. They address the lack of multistakeholder coordination that has historically prevented many agriculture interventions from realizing lasting impact or commercial viability. A better transformation plan is a large part of the path forward, as is well-orchestrated implementation. Given the capacity restraints of many governments, large-scale change programmes are increasingly using short-term “special delivery units” or project management offices, vested with the authority to balance stakeholder interests, coordinate investments and ensure timely implementation of commitments. In the right circumstances, these can be valuable in delivering mutually accepted results. We encourage stakeholders to build on the examples presented here and develop additional ways of working together to create viable, inclusive markets that address local nutritional, environmental and social needs. These can be initiated by any organization that is willing to take the lead: public, private or civil. The opportunity is sufficiently great and circumstances sufficiently diverse for each stakeholder to champion change in its areas of expertise and passion. The success of any development initiative ultimately relies on delivering local results, so programmes must be implemented to empower individual decision-making and enable community ownership. Effective models are often designed for a country or region, where programmes driven by national leaders can achieve scale within the unique cultural context. The changes necessary also depend on a robust global market. This implies a shift in mindset and policy for developed and developing countries. For instance, as long as commodity prices fail to factor in environmental costs, industry will have an incentive to overdraw: some form of compensation for environmental service would greatly improve the long-term management of natural resources. Furthermore, tariff and non-tariff barriers continue to skew production costs and obstruct the efficient flow of goods and services across borders; consistent trade policies promote competitiveness, fairness and stable distribution. What is clear is that every stakeholder has a critical role to play, and the scale of the challenge will require an intensification of efforts across the board. In particular, governments must set the direction for their countries’ agricultural development and play a strong leadership role in holistic transformation. Businesses should stretch to innovate and invest, tactically driving implementation of the New Vision through the market.
Operating principles of the New Vision for Agriculture
Mobilize the private sector to unleash agriculture as core driver of future growth and stability
Employ market-based solutions to activate public and private investments
Empower farmers and entrepreneurs to reach their full potential
Integrate interventions to achieve momentum and scale
Collaborate with diverse stakeholders to build on strengths and distribute risk