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Highlights for Monday, 16 May 2005



Over 200 participants from developed and developing countries gathered in St. Louis, Missouri for the opening day of the World Agricultural Forum Congress. Participants convened in afternoon sessions to hear presentations related to the Congress’s theme, “The Key to Peace, Security and Growth: Local, Regional and Global Agri-Food Systems.” Above photo: Plenary view of the World Agricultural Forum.


OPENING REMARKS AND KEYNOTE ADDRESSES:

FOOD SYSTEMS: A FRAMEWORK FOR NATIONAL SECURITY AND GLOBAL PEACE: 

During a panel on food systems, Hon. James Bolger, World Agricultural Forum, encouraged Congress participants to focus on progress, potential solutions, and future actions in agriculture and agri-food systems. Ruth Oniang’o, Rural Outreach Program of Kenya, highlighted the importance of dialogue as a first step to achieving sustainable development. Felipe Manteiga, Millennium Challenge Corporation, noted that agricultural development would increase rural development and facilitate poverty alleviation, prosperity, and peace. 


Leonard Guarraia, Chairman and CEO, World Agricultural Forum,  opened the meeting by stressing that food is an essential element in a country’s economy and political viability.


Relying on United Nations population statistics, James Bolger, Chairman of the Advisory Board, World Agricultural Forum, discussed the challenges to agriculture posed by the forecast population increase.


Felipe Manteiga, Managing Director of Markets and Sectors Assessment, Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), drew attention to the MCC’s work in helping people earn their income and explains that the MCC is a fundamental exercise on performance.


Ruth Oniang’o, Executive Director, Rural Outreach Program, highlighted the work of the Rural Outreach Program, which helps local people utilize community resources through projects.


ECONOMIC GROWTH: A DRIVER FOR DEVELOPMENT OF AGRI-FOOD SYSTEMS


In the second panel on economic growth, Bob Thompson, University of Illinois, emphasized that developing countries need to see the benefits of their participation in the World Trade Organization (WTO). Hans Jöhr, Nestlé, Ltd., said private enterprises are key actors in generating a country’s wealth and prosperity, and that governments need to create the enabling conditions. Carl Hausmann, Bunge North America, indicated that agricultural trade is a key element for meeting food requirements, securing food sources and growing the world economy. Osler Desouzart, President, OD Consulting, discussed meat consumption patterns, drawing particular attention to competing land uses for production and over-consumption in developed countries and under-consumption but growing demand in developing countries.




Emphasizing that agricultural development alone has limited potential in alleviating rural poverty, Bob Thompson, Gardner Chair in Agricultural Policy, University of Illinois, said an increase in non-farm employment in developing countries is needed.


Hans Jöhr, Corporate Head of Agriculture, Nestlé, Ltd., suggested the business model should be used to create jobs and income in Africa.




Carl Hausmann, President and CEO, Bunge North America, presented changing agricultural consumption patterns, noting how soybean consumption will increase 5% per year at the global level. 


Osler Desouzart, President and CEO of OD Consulting pointed to three decades of growth in both consumption and production of meat and predicted that future growth in both fields will mainly occur in developing countries.


ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSIONS: 


Participants also engaged in an open discussion on, inter alia: developing technology, securing peace before fighting poverty, engaging the private sector in developing countries and obtaining market access for local communities, particularly in Africa.

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