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Global food security initiative launched at Davos

February 4th, 2011

At the recent World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland a coalition of business, governments and farmers launched a strategy to significantly increase food production while conserving environmental resources and spurring economic growth. Organizers noted that the approach is already being implemented in two countries, Tanzania and Vietnam. The strategy, led by 17 global companies, sets ambitious targets for collective action to increase production by 20%, decrease greenhouse gas emissions per tonne by 20% and reduces rural poverty by 20% each decade.

The 17 companies leading the initiative span the full agriculture value chain, including Archer Daniels Midland, BASF, Bunge Limited, Cargill, The Coca-Cola Company, DuPont, General Mills, Kraft Foods, Metro AG, Monsanto Company, Nestlé, PepsiCo, SABMiller, Syngenta, Unilever, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Yara International.

The key focus of the strategy is to building on the private sector’s capacity for innovation, investment and growing markets, and it is entitled “Realizing a New Vision for Agriculture: A Roadmap for Stakeholders.” It recommends better coordination among business, government and civil society to improve agriculture systems holistically. Over 350 leaders from all sectors around the world contributed to its conclusions and recommendations.

Speaking at a press conference at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting where the strategy was presented, President Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania launched a blueprint for public-private investment in the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor, developed with support from the initiative. “Developing this corridor could triple regional production, generate $1.2 billion per year and lift 2 million people out of poverty,” he said. “My government is committed to realizing this opportunity to generate sustainable growth in the region.”

“Business can help transform agriculture, but we can’t do it alone,” said Paul Polman, chief executive officer (CEO) of Unilever. “By working collaboratively with farmers, governments and others, we can achieve our common goals of increasing health and prosperity while protecting the planet.”

The concept of coordinating investments has attracted interest from business, government and donor organizations. “Innovative public-private partnerships offer a powerful opportunity to achieve significant impact on global hunger and nutrition,” said Rajiv Shah, Administrator of the US Agency for International Development (USAID). USAID is supporting Tanzania’s growth corridor and catalytic fund through Feed the Future, the US government global hunger and food security initiative.

Farmer leaders from India, Africa, Europe and the U.S. welcomed the initiative. “Farmers are entrepreneurs, and by partnering with companies they can get the access to the markets, financing and technology they need,” said Chengal Reddy, Co-Chair of the Indian Farmers and Industry Alliance.

“The success of farmers will bring this New Vision to life,” said Hugh Grant, CEO of Monsanto. “The New Vision will require action by all of us, working across the public and private sectors, to create the policies, infrastructure and partnerships needed to provide farmers choice and access to markets.”

“Investing in agriculture is the best way to drive the virtuous circle, creating economic opportunity and helping eradicate chronic hunger and malnutrition for millions. That’s good for everyone,” said Irene Rosenfeld, chairman and CEO of Kraft Foods.

“New partnerships between the private and public sectors are critical to confronting the new reality of high and rising food prices,” said Robert Greenhill, managing director at the World Economic Forum.

The New Vision for Agriculture roadmap may be downloaded in full at http://www.weforum.org/agriculture.

The Tanzania Investment Blueprint can be downloaded at: http://www.africacorridors.com/sagcot.

Source: World Grain

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