World Agricultural Forum Congress Bulletin

 

PDF Format
Text Format


Published by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD)

 

Vol. 109 No. 1
Saturday, 21 May 2005
 

SUMMARY OF THE WORLD AGRICULTURAL FORUM’S 2005 WORLD CONGRESS:

16-18 MAY 2005

Over 200 leaders from government, non-governmental and intergovernmental organizations and the corporate and academic communities met at the World Agricultural Forum (WAF): 2005 World Congress in St. Louis, Missouri, US, from 16-18 May 2005. The theme of the Congress was “The Key to Peace, Security and Growth: Local, Regional AND Global Agri-Food Systems.” Participants at this 4th World Congress discussed issues in agriculture and agri-food systems, including their role in promoting economic and sustainable growth.

Key topics examined during the Congress’ panels included: national security and global peace; economic growth; integration of local, regional and global markets; national political interests and international agreements; fresh water; bioenergy; technology transfer for growth and rural development; market-driven agri-food systems; financing for growth; and partnerships. Participants engaged in roundtable and open discussions on each of the thematic issues.

Throughout the Congress, participants examined approaches and offered solutions to “bridge the gap” between local, regional and global issues related to agri-food systems. Since the WAF seeks to generate debate but does not seek to achieve consensus at its meetings, there were no formal outputs of the 4th Congress.

A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE WORLD AGRICULTURAL FORUM

The World Agricultural Forum (WAF) brings together high-level leaders and a range of stakeholders from both developed and developing countries using dialogue at the regional and global levels. Since its inception in 1997, the WAF has held one regional and three world Congress sessions on salient issues in domestic and global agricultural policy. The WAF is governed by a Board of Directors, an Advisory Board and a non-governmental organization (NGO) Council.

The WAF encourages dialogue on agriculture, emphasizing its crucial role in alleviating poverty and sustaining human life. In current and previous Congress sessions, the WAF has drawn attention to pressures on agricultural resources and availability, in particular the impact of water and land scarcity and its effect on civil unrest and economic instability.

REGIONAL CONGRESS: The 2004 Regional Congress of the WAF was held in St. Louis, Missouri, US, from 16-18 May 2004 to discuss the theme “Future of the Agri-Food System: Perspectives from the Americas.” The focus of the Congress was: assessing the current state of the agri-food system; envisioning medium and long-term goals for the agri-food system; and designing modalities to achieve such goals. Participants discussed key trends of agriculture in the Americas, drawing particular attention to trends in commodities, natural resource management, social issues and trade. To address future challenges in the agricultural sector, participants considered the role of bioenergy, microfinance, subsistence agriculture and migration and remittances. Throughout the session, regional Congress participants drew attention to the important role of agriculture in achieving global justice, peace and security.

WORLD CONGRESSES: The 1st World Congress met in St. Louis, Missouri, US, from 23-25 May 1999 under the theme “A New Age in Agriculture: It is More Than Just Food.” Participants noted policy priorities including economic development, infrastructure, technology and technology acceptance to meet the needs of a growing global population. Other issues raised by participants included the need for transparency and public participation in trade and trade policy debates as well as the need to continue a neutral global forum for world leaders on agricultural issues.

The 2nd World Congress convened in St. Louis, Missouri, US, from 20-22 May 2001 to address issues concerning “A New Age in Agriculture: Feeding the World.” Participants discussed the importance of, inter alia: improving food safety; increasing the role of women in agriculture; addressing technology gaps through the use of telecommunications and the Internet; developing strategies for water supplies and conservation; and improving food distribution.

The 3rd World Congress was held in St. Louis, Missouri, US, from 18-20 May 2003 under the theme “A New Age in Agriculture: Working Together to Create the Future and Disable the Barriers.” Noting the need to create a more equitable and sustainable agricultural system to bridge the disparity between civil society, business and governments, participants suggested solutions including the utilization of public-private sector partnerships, global and regional policy, markets, trade, technology and global resource management.

REPORT OF THE 2005 WORLD CONGRESS

The 2005 World Agricultural Forum Congress met from Monday, 16 May, until Wednesday, 18 May 2005. The following report reviews the Congress’s events, which involved roundtable and open discussions between Congress panelists and participants. The report is separated into summaries of each of the roundtable and open discussions.

KEYNOTE SPEAKERS AND OPENING REMARKS

FOOD SYSTEMS: A FRAMEWORK FOR NATIONAL SECURITY AND GLOBAL PEACE: On Monday, 16 May, Leonard Guarraia, Chairman and CEO, WAF, opened the Congress by stressing that food is an essential element of a country’s economic and political viability. He pointed out that countries with the least developed agri-food systems are among the least developed countries (LDCs) and cannot participate fully in the world trading system.

In his keynote address on “Changing Demographics – A Wake Up Call,” James Bolger, Chairman of the Advisory Board, WAF, said that peace and prosperity depend on the future of agriculture. He called for a more open approach to immigration, especially in developed countries, and noted that the growing world population will need more food and water. Bolger stressed the need for crops that are salt-water resistant and can grow in dryland conditions, due to threats such as global warming. He said that the global agricultural community faces unprecedented challenges but also has new tools to find solutions, and that participants should be bold in offering suggestions to meet such challenges.

Ruth Oniang’o, Executive Director, Rural Outreach Program of Kenya, mentioned trends in aid flows to Africa, most of which were loans that mortgage the countries of Africa’s children. She stressed the importance of democratization and poverty eradication, noting the significance of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the Cancún World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Conference, and the Blair Report on Africa to the G8 in addressing Africa’s needs. Oniang’o also reported on her work at the community level, which is guided by core values such as accountability, collective action and increasing human dignity through partnerships and capacity building.

Felipe Manteiga, Managing Director of Markets and Sectors Assessment, Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), noted, inter alia, that: agricultural growth is critical to poverty alleviation; higher incomes mean stronger markets; agribusiness investments are the path to tomorrow’s competitiveness; and the drivers of poverty reduction are the expansion of local and export markets. He explained the core values of the MCC, saying how poverty reduction and financial return on projects are measures of performance.  

ECONOMIC GROWTH: A DRIVER FOR DEVELOPMENT OF AGRIFOOD SYSTEMS: On Monday, 16 May, Bob Thompson, Gardner Chair in Agricultural Policy, University of Illinois, discussed the Doha Round of trade negotiations and how to make trade work for economic development and growth. Noting that little trade liberalization has occurred, he suggested that subsidies have not been substantially reduced and that developing countries are the only potential growth market for agricultural exports. Thompson also indicated that the depression of world markets through subsidies in high income countries is the greatest concern of developing countries. He noted that LDCs’ own policies also impede performance, there is growing agricultural trade because the distribution of land is not equal, and certain OECD countries need to support market access for the production of goods in which developing countries have a comparative advantage.

Discussing Nestlé’s presence in Africa, Hans Jöhr, Corporate Head of Agriculture of Nestlé, Ltd., explained how Nestlé has a social and economic impact in developing countries through the value chain. Jöhr noted the company helps farmers meet global standards and improves their incomes. He highlighted that the only way to make progress on environmental stewardship and labor standards is to develop people’s capabilities. He noted Nestlé’s forward looking attitude and long-term commitment to its work in Africa.

Carl Hausmann, President and CEO, Bunge North America, offered perspectives on international agricultural trade and challenges to its growth. He explained how the WTO has played a role in changing the historical trade model, which was based on bulk commodities. Hausmann also noted that healthy agricultural trade requires participants to understand development economics, different food cultures and the factors influencing the WTO outcomes.

Osler Desouzart, President and CEO, OD Consulting, presented on “Meat as a Driver for Economic Growth in Developing Countries,” discussing three decades of growth in both consumption and production of meat. He predicted that future growth in both fields will mainly occur in developing countries, where there will be increased demand and where people are ready to consume different parts of the animal, not just cuts preferred in the North. Desouzart pointed to China becoming a main importer of agricultural products.

OPEN DISCUSSION WITH KEYNOTE LEADERS: In a roundtable discussion on Monday, 16 May, which was chaired by James Bolger, the presenters from the previous two sessions discussed new technologies and the growing gap in knowledge and market access between the developed and the developing world.

On changing labor patterns, Thompson argued that the displacement of labor should be countered by creation of non-farm alternatives, so that small-holder farmers can be part-time farmers. Manteiga called for the creation of new business opportunities. Jöhr suggested building value chains that connect rural and urban areas. Hausmann noted that agriculture’s main objective is to feed national populations and not the creation of employment, which has to be directed by government policy.

On market access, one participant pointed to the need for access to capital to increase production in developing countries. Hausmann distinguished some countries that are already competitive and have access from smaller countries on whose production the world does not depend. Responding to a comment on small farms, Oniang’o said the international connection does not fit small farmers, who need support to build intra-community trading and to respond to local needs.

On subsidies, one participant pointed to the attitude among US farmers that they need subsidies, with Thompson describing the example of how New Zealand drastically cut subsidies but the industry remained competitive. Hausman stated that subsidies increase the value of the land, not competitiveness.

The panelists discussed the predicted decrease of people working in agriculture and the need for investment in infrastructure, especially in Africa. Desouzart noted that in Brazil private investors fund much of the infrastructure instead of depending on the government.

On water scarcity, one participant questioned the increase in meat production in light of increasing water scarcity, and panelists agreed that water had to be managed prudently.

A participant pointed to the need for the creation of markets for products from developing countries, while others raised concerns that economic development often does not translate into changes on the ground and questioned whether the private sector did enough to help alleviate poverty.

Bolger noted that with every free trade agreement countries cede sovereignty, which could help overcome tensions in the world. Hausmann stated that predictability was the sine qua non of private investment and has to be created through civil society and good governance.

ROUNDTABLES AND OPEN DISCUSSIONS

ROUNDTABLE ON THE NEED FOR INTEGRATION OF LOCAL, REGIONAL AND GLOBAL MARKETS: On Tuesday, 17 May, Ray Cesca, Chairman and CEO, GAEA International, chaired a discussion on the “Need for Integration of Local, Regional and Global Markets.” He posed the question of how market access can contribute to meeting the MDGs of reducing by half the number of people living in hunger and those living on less than US$1 a day. He contrasted the inability of a traditional farmer from Guatemala to sell his products to supermarkets with the success story of an enterprise in the neighboring town that caters mainly to international markets. In closing, he asked if the global economy left room for the world’s poor farmers and how their position can be strengthened.

John Falloon, former Minister of Agriculture, New Zealand, said not all local farming can survive unless farming practices change. Falloon said governments tend to maintain unsustainable systems and misguide farmers, who have to find other ways of producing and accessing the world market.

Noel Devisch, President, Belgian Boerenbond, called for initial protection for local farmers, so they are not put out of business due to international imports.

Philip Kiriro, President, Eastern Africa Farmers Federation, asked questions about historical trends in financial investments, what successful crops have been grown in other countries, and to what extent governments invest in infrastructure.

Jorge Cazenave, Director, Cazenave and Asociados in Argentina, suggested that national governments have to rethink policies to attract investments and that protectionist policies in developed countries hurt poorer farmers.

Nha Duc Hoang, President and Founder, HDN Strategies, pointed to the diversity of food systems and standards around the globe and called for agricultural research and participation of civil society.

Open Discussion: A participant from Germany raised the different problems that arise locally due to globalization and national policies, and suggested engaging with the United Nations. Devisch proposed looking beyond trade subsidies to help the weakest and find market solutions for local farmers. Falloon noted that the EU could help developing countries by opening market access. Saying that the developing countries need to adapt to the market, Cazenave pointed to problems with subsidies, for example for sugar production, and said subsidies do not promote fair trade. Hoang noted that the government should act as the enabler to help the rural poor, and assist with resources to promote technology and make agriculture environmentally friendly.

On bridging the information gap, a Pakistani participant said there is a serious gap between information provided to the local farmer and to the policymaker and that farmers’ capacity needs to be developed.

A US participant suggested that developing countries might offer greater market access in return for a reduction of subsidies. Cazenave said the development of the market is a key opportunity and called for greater investment opportunities in developing countries. Kiriro said that developing countries need to be given the opportunity to access markets. Devisch suggested developing a classification that distinguishes between countries that are really developing countries and those that are not.

Debating the benefits of the WTO, a French participant noted that the benefits of the WTO should not be overemphasized. Falloon hoped that proposals in the WTO would succeed because they would enable market access and reduce tariffs.

On helping local farmers, women from West Africa and Kenya called for increasing public support for poverty alleviation efforts, and giving farmers a voice.

Saying that international organizations have played an important role in strengthening institutions, a participant from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) noted that success stories such as China and Brazil would not have been possible without financial help from international organizations.

A participant from India suggested that farmers need to interact with buyers freely and equitably and market distortions should be avoided. Falloon noted that international regulation needs to be competitive and provide opportunities for countries.

ROUNDTABLE ON BALANCING NATIONAL POLITICAL INTERESTS WITH INTERNATIONAL AGREEMENTS: On Tuesday, 17 May, Susan Sechler, US Director of the Trade and Development Program, German Marshall Fund, called on successful businesses to take a more aggressive stance to change trade policies.

Charles Riemenscheider, North American Liaison Unit, UN Food and Agriculture Organization, noted that international agreements often provide political cover for domestic policy changes.

Gerard Viatte, former Director of Agriculture, OECD, agreed that international agreements are imperative in forcing change, but noted that governments and industry need to be convinced to implement the reform based on the results of in-depth analysis. 

Osler Desouzart, President and CEO, OD Consulting, noted that there is movement towards implementation of international agreements due to increased awareness-raising. Jean-Marc Trarieux, Agricultural Attaché, Delegation of the European Commission, noted that domestic support programs grow from domestic needs and priorities and recognized the WTO as a key reference framework for agricultural policy and an incentive for the EU’s to move from market support to income support measures. Nicholas Kalaitzandonakes, Director of the Center for Economics and Management of Agrobiotechnology, University of Missouri-Columbia, said policy reform required public participation and quantification of the impacts of current policies, both of which would lead to more transparency.

Gawain Kripke, Senior Policy Advisor, OXFAM, stressed that 2005 is a pivotal year for ensuring progress in the fields of aid, debt and trade, in light of the G8 meeting focusing on Africa, the UN Summit on the MDGs and the WTO Ministerial in Hong Kong.

Evandro Didonet, Deputy for Economic and Trade Affairs, Brazilian Embassy, stressed his country’s commitment to negotiating international trade agreements, especially within the Doha Round, to enhance progress in agriculture.

Open Discussion: A German participant, supported by Sechler, questioned the usefulness of the concept of special and differentiated treatment. Viatte suggested that countries should not be locked into such categories, and that slowing the process of policy reform comes at a high cost in developing countries. Riemenschneider noted that the imbalance in agricultural subsistence makes an argument for special and differentiated treatment difficult. Kripke noted that poor countries have limited ability to respond to market shocks, and parameters need to be set to deal with this.

On influencing national politics, a participant from New Zealand noted that it takes political will and commitment to reform. Kalaitzandonakes said that industry is often demonized for rent-seeking, but also asked to fix problems in developing countries and called for governments to take collective responsibility.

On European agricultural subsidies, a US participant questioned how Europe uses subsidies in a less trade distorting way than the US. Trarieux explained that Europe had a vision to reduce subsidies for years and moved to a system based on income support.

On the US Farm Bill, Kripke suggested that the Bill is part of domestic legislation, but is about the trade system. Trarieux noted that the 1996 Farm Bill did not lead to satisfactory benefits from payments. Sechler indicated that getting information out about the Farm Bill is key and that academics failed to show farmers new ways to invest and raise revenue.

A French participant rejected import barriers as destructive to domestic industry and pointed to inefficiencies created by protectionism, sometimes putting the most competitive industries out of business. A participant from the US stressed the need for education on international issues, especially international trade.

On food aid, Riemenschneider said it requires the determination of legitimate needs, otherwise it could be used to disrupt trade and have effects similar to export subsidies. Kripke agreed that the use of food aid as an export subsidy has become a sore spot in the WTO negotiations, that there needs to be resolution on food aid, and that negotiators need to turn their attention to more important issues.

In conclusion, Viatte called for increased transparency and avoidance of trade-distorting payments, Kalaitzandonakes requested public participation and clear objectives, Desouzart called for continued awareness-raising, Riemenschneider suggested prioritizing investment in infrastructure, and Didonet considered the successful conclusion of the Doha round the most important issue.

SUCCESSFUL INTEGRATION OF SUSTAINABLE AGRIFOOD SYSTEMS: On Tuesday, 17 May, Frank Tugwell, President and CEO, Winrock International, presented on integration of agri-food systems from a global and historic perspective. He commented that industrialization in the next three decades will be greater than all industrialization in the past three centuries, making it impossible to continue the current pattern of natural resource use. He pointed to the findings of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, which concluded that human activity has put such strain on earth that sustainability is no longer guaranteed for future generations.

ROUNDTABLE ON FRESH WATER – INCREASING DEMAND AND DECLINING AVAILABILITY: On Tuesday, 17 May, Roberto Lenton, Chair of the Technical Committee for Global Water Resources, The Earth Institute at Columbia University, chaired the discussion, focusing on fresh water scarcity and the supply and demand side. He said water has an increasingly global dimension through trade in virtual water and water exports.

Mohammed Ait-Kadi, President of the General Council of Agricultural Development, Ministry of Agriculture of Morocco, pointed to the need for integrated water resource management and increased public and private investment and development assistance.

Hoang stressed the relationship with food security, hoping for increased yield with the same water input.

David Seckler, Director of Winrock Water, Winrock International, pointed to a study of the International Water Management Institute on supply and demand for water, finding that in 2020 one third of the world population will live in countries with physical water scarcity, depending on water imports. He called for investment in infrastructure to access and store water resources, and to increase yields from rain-fed agriculture.

Sunil Ghorawat, CEO, Everything About Water, said water should be treated as a strategic reserve that requires good governance, policies that reduce the dependency on climatic conditions, and incentives to recycle and reuse water.

Wendell Dorsett, Senior Applications Engineer, Valmont Industries, reiterated that agriculture is the greatest consumer of water and called for increased efficiency in irrigation and reuse of water of less than drinking water quality for growing crops.

Open Discussion: In the ensuing discussion, a US participant inquired about actionable items to address water problems, and Seckler said new dams are needed for water management. Lenton encouraged rainwater harvesting and not giving building permits to all for groundwater recharge.

On the use of water from the poles, a participant from Argentina asked for experiences on how to use such resources. Ghorawat noted that desalinization technology is improving, but there is still a long way to go. Lenton noted that there are major energy implications for desalinization.

On genetically modified crops, a US participant noted that the yield will be higher with genetically modified varieties.

One participant from the International Commission on Irrigation and Drainage (ICID) recalled the shift in focus to water management, due to language in Agenda 21, and said development and water management are needed.

On water pricing, one participant suggested having a water pricing policy in developing countries. Ghorawat pointed out that a few big companies are consuming all the water, that companies need to start paying for water use, and that more discipline is needed in managing water resources. Hoang said national policies need to be developed, drawing attention to Mexico’s recent national water policy.

Closing statements by panelists included that: there is a need to have a more effective use of water using a variety of systems; there is a need for incentives and education of farmers on recharging aquifers and recycling water; water can cause conflict among nations; and the 2005 Congress provides an opportunity to stress the interdependence of agriculture with water, trade and other sectors.

ROUNDTABLE ON SUCCESSES WITH BIOENERGY: On Tuesday, 17 May, Reid Detchon, Executive Director, Energy Future Coalition, discussed the possibilities of bioenergy, saying that it is linked to peace and security and reducing our dependence on oil. He noted that biofuels are unique in that they are the only potentially large substitute for petroleum and that sustainably produced biofuels can reduce emissions.

Mike Bryan, CEO, BBI International, said that fuel ethanol and biodiesel will provide energy security in the future. He indicated that the ethanol industry is not overproducing, but the oil industry is under buying ethanol, and the public needs to change the way it views ethanol and biodiesel.

Rick Tolman, CEO, National Corn Growers Association, explained that in some cases ethanol has produced a 13% return on investment, and that the ethanol industry is embarking on a tremendous boom.

Stephen Censky, CEO, American Soybean Association, said soybeans are an important part of fuel for the future. He noted that using soybeans as fuel can have a positive economic impact, and noted that Europe has used biofuel much more aggressively.

Israel Klabin, President, Brazilian Foundation for Sustainable Development, indicated that Brazil is changing energy consumption by innovatively using ethanol.

Mike Eckhart, President, American Council for Renewable Energy, noted that renewable energy is more than just biofuels and soybeans, and constitutes a US$15 billion dollar a year industry. He noted that the outlook for renewable energy is optimistic, and drew attention to the fact that commercial banks are now starting to become engaged in the renewable energy industry.

Open Discussion: During the discussion, a participant commented on the increase of productivity in the US and called on the Congress to address using agricultural waste products as a form of bioenergy. Censky commented that more biofuel production can be coupled with increases in food production. A US participant asked about the production cost of biodiesel and the need for subsidies. Censky said the industry needs incentives similar to the tax cuts received by the petroleum industry, which Klabin noted receives its greatest subsidy from not having to pay for its environmental impacts. Detchon pointed out that both ethanol and biodiesel are fully competitive in Brazil. A participant from Europe saw positive effects of bioenergy in implementing the Kyoto Protocol commitments. A participant from Argentina contrasted advances in agriculture in his country in past decades with the relatively minor changes in the United States, especially regarding energy efficiency in agriculture. A participant from the US asked about the biggest hurdles for bioenergy, and Eckhart pointed to reducing cost and taking into account the additional values of bioenergy. Bryan said that the industry needed to integrate vertically by producing all possible products that can be derived from crops. Another participant from the US asked about the trust of investors in the industry. Tolman responded that the industry needed to ensure that the product is pulled into the market through investment in infrastructure and policies such as the proposed renewable fuel standard. He said the larger US automakers are not producing adequately equipped cars, although it costs less than US$300 to adapt them. In closing, Censky said the industry was at the beginning of a growth stage, Eckhart acknowledged the leadership of Europe and Japan in the field, and Detchon said this was a field where all countries could work together.

SUCCESSFUL TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER FOR GROWTH AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT: On Tuesday, 17 May, Mpoko Bokanga, Executive Director, African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) of Nigeria, opened the session asking panelists to share their experiences with successful technology transfer.

Marco Quinones, Regional Director, Sasagawa 2000, explained successes in Sub-Saharan Africa, drawing particular attention to successful technology transfer for increasing production, conservation agriculture, water harvesting and drip irrigation, and post-harvest technologies. He noted that the challenge is to mainstream these technologies into the national planning and budget allocation process.

Kepler Euclides Filho, Executive Director, Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation, discussed the supply chain approach in the beef industry and scenarios that should prevail in the medium and long term. He stressed, inter alia, the importance of strong partnerships and the need to promote a program devoted to improve personnel qualifications.

O. P. Singh, CEO, Venkateshwara Hatcheries Private Ltd. of India, discussed the role of science in agriculture, noting that rural employment, undernourishment, and working conditions all need to be improved in India. He used the example of the Indian poultry industry, saying a model based on science, service and support will ensure sustainability.

Bokanga explained why African agriculture is under performing, drawing attention to declining per capita productivity, and why production meets the needs of the increasing population by expanding land under agriculture. He stressed the need to build innovative public-private partnerships, noting the unique initiative of the AATF.

Istvan Feher, Deputy Secretary of State, Ministry of Agriculture and Regional Development in Hungary, described the transfer from planned to market economy resulting in: a decrease in production and employment; an increase in competitiveness and quality; and privatization.

Open Discussion: During the discussion, a participant from Asia noted that innovation is driven by the private sector, which subsequently expects payments for the use of its intellectual property rights (IPRs). Bokanga responded that dealing with IPRs can be a challenge, especially if they are not addressed in advance. 

A US government representative noted that food production in Africa has been stagnant for many years, whereas the rest of the world has seen an increase. Bokanga agreed that Africa has to increase productivity and realize the potential of trade not only on the global level, but especially inside of Africa. A Brazilian participant noted the positive contribution of national research centers, supported by Manteiga, who called for their formal integration into the international research environment. In closing, Quinones pointed to the alleviation of hunger, Filho to the importance of educating individuals, and Singh to the need to work together to build sustainable agricultural systems.

MODEL OF SUCCESS: FINANCING FOR GROWTH AND ASSET BUILDING: On Wednesday, 18 May, Deborah Perkins, Executive Director of Food and Agribusiness Research, Rabobank, chaired the session on financing for agriculture, noting that many banks lack an understanding of agriculture. Carlo Barbieri, Professor of International Relations, Central Institute of Cooperative Credit in Italy (ICCREA), reported on the experience of the Italian cooperative credit system, which plays an important role in the national banking sector and has high liquidity because it is prohibited from paying out profits. He described how ICCREA started investing in cooperative banking in Ecuador and now wants to work with Ecuadorian immigrants in Italy.

Jonathan Campaigne, Executive Director, Pride Africa, pointed to the market and financial constraints for agriculture and the lack of a mechanism to mediate the flow of financial and market information. He reported on the creation of DrumNet, a platform that integrates marketing and financing of products and provides economic integration for small farmers in Africa.

Urszula Budzich-Szukala, Director, Agroline Rural Development and Credit Programme, described the positive transformation of agriculture in Poland from a planned economy to EU accession, through focusing on rural development, strengthening social capital, and protecting the environment.

Rolando Ariel Perez, Managing Director, Maple Commercial Finance Group, explained how financing for agriculture became more accessible following the Uruguay round of negotiations in the WTO, which lead to changes in national legislation and created a cash exchange for agricultural production, especially through the private sector.

John Hatch, Founder and President, FINCA International, said microcredit provided a platform for the world’s poorest families to access funds and increase their well being and social capital overall. He said positive spin-offs are poverty reduction, food security, better housing and education and gains in purchasing power.

Open Discussion: Cesca questioned how banks play a role in the future. Hatch noted that his schemes fund the ideas of the borrowers, allow people to pick new initiatives they think will succeed, and are set up to lend to families for harvest income to create a better playing field for agriculture extension and investments. Campaigne posed the question of how to enable rural populations to be more productive and effective, improve their yields and access markets. He noted it is also about investing in infrastructure and coming up with the system to do that.

On repayment of loans, an Indian participant noted the failure of agriculture financing schemes such as in India where 30,000 farmers cannot repay their loans because their farms have been unprofitable. Barbieri highlighted the Ecuadorian experience of providing money to farmers, using non-traditional ways of lending and managing risks. Campaigne said that linking self-help groups and agricultural rural banks is an important way in which farmers can obtain loans in India, and the suicide rate of farmers in India is small relative to the number of farmers that have succeeded with agricultural loans. Hatch suggested approaching the repayment of loans in rural areas by giving people more time to repay, allowing them to retain their dignity.

A US participant asked for experiences of building equity for farmers and in assisting entrepreneurs. Hatch suggested that many families take out loans so their children can go to school, but that most of the children that successfully graduate return to the informal sector for employment, thus highlighting the need to create jobs in the near future.

A West African participant shared the success of microfinancing in West Africa, where a microcredit organization has had a 100% return on credit.

SUCCESS THROUGH PARTNERSHIPS: On Wednesday, 18 May, Tensie Whelan, President, the Rain Forest Alliance, discussed The Rain Forest Alliance’s certified sustainable products alliance involving about 30 companies to market sustainably managed coffee, bananas and timber. She provided an overview of its work with Kraft Foods, Chiquita Brands International, and the US Agency for International Development (USAID), and explained its use of certification for sustainable practices, which is based on 800 different indicators.

Jim Thompson, Global Development Alliance Secretariat, USAID, discussed the changing trends in US government official development assistance and development patterns since the 1960s, saying that private sector investment has in the 1990s dominated economic development in the developing world.

David McLaughlin, Senior Director of Environmental and Social Performance, Chiquita Brands International, discussed Chiquita’s operations in Central America over the last two decades, noting that agriculture has been a central focal point for issues including seasonal labor, genetically modified organisms and environmental issues. McLaughlin indicated the company was involved in a long-term change to corporate social responsibility (CSR) from 1992-2004, and noted the key role of senior leadership in facilitating the company’s cultural shift and how increased reporting to the public has lead to increased commitment to CSR goals.

Paul Carothers, Vice President of Public Affairs, Kraft Foods, discussed Kraft’s sustainable coffee program, which contributes to origin country development and aligns with growing consumer interests. Carothers suggested that Kraft is trying to tackle this problem of sustainable production both on the supply and demand side.

Open Discussion: During a discussion on tariffs, a participant from New Zealand asked industry representatives whether they lobbied governments to reduce tariffs on agricultural products, and Carothers and McLaughlin said they did on the national and international level. Commenting on ongoing WTO dispute resolution, McLaughlin said the Latin American banana industry will be devastated unless tariffs are abolished.

On certification, a Brazilian participant said certification demands for imports to developed countries are so elaborate that they function as a barrier to trade, blocking smaller companies from participating in the market. A participant from India asked if sustainability certification could be a non-tariff barrier (NTB) to trade and McLaughlin responded that such a voluntary system could not be a NTB.

On the Rain Forest Alliance partnership, a participant from the US asked how it was promoted and both industry representatives noted that they provide general information on their sustainably managed products. A representative of the OECD commented on the sustainable agriculture initiative by multinational companies and initiatives by different industries to become more sustainable. Carothers said Kraft Foods participated in a number of international campaigns in an effort to define and implement the concept of sustainability. A NGO participant asked about the US government’s policy on remittances and its role in corporate partnerships. Thompson acknowledged the need for a good policy for remittances and a better way to account for them and pointed to the government’s expertise in development.

On cooperation with producers, a Kenyan participant asked if farmers with good crops would be unable to sell them due to rules and regulations. Carothers stressed that consumers expect consistency from branded products and that they are trying to involve more and more farmers to make them successful. A participant from TransFair commented that fair trade certification is a way of aligning the interests of producers, industry and consumers, and asked about information sharing about markets and risk management. Thompson said linking farmers and companies that purchase farmers’ products can help overcome local financing problems.

ROUNDTABLE ON MARKET-DRIVEN AGRIFOOD SYSTEMS: On Wednesday, 18 May, Heinrich Toepfer, Chairman, Agriworld GMBH, discussed his experience in the international grain trade, indicating that it is a massive risk operation because of strikes, political risk and weather delays. Suggesting that farmers should not depend on banks alone, he recommended having one crop in the field, one crop in the store and one in the bank.

Anan Sirimongkolkasem, President, Thai Broiler Processing Exporters Association, explained the successful history of broiler meat in Thailand, based on his family run poultry business. Noting the four periods of poultry production in Asia, he said that before the Asian bird flu epidemic, the Thai poultry industry was bringing in over US$1 billion a year and the industry is still functioning in part because of government support.

Rob Horsch, Vice President, Monsanto Company, said Monsanto tries to help countries use technologies where markets are not relevant. He said business is not a leader in infrastructure, food safety nets may be needed at the local level for populations such as pregnant women, and new initiatives in developing countries are largely driven by the public.

David Hughes, Professor, Imperial College London, offered a European perspective on how the agri-food system responds to consumer demand. He suggested that the implications of the agri-food system include: the acceleration of fragmented commodity markets; opportunities and threats for producers in developing countries; the growing importance of traceability to track integrity of “credence” attributes; and closed supply chains emerge for “non-commodity” high value products.

Ken Roberts, Assistant Administrator of the Foreign Agricultural Services (FAS) of the US Department of Agriculture, discussed opportunities in the agri-food business for developing countries, and mentioned that FAS is working in post-conflict situations such as Iraq and Afghanistan. He indicated that the uncertainty of the international marketplace is important and has huge risks for developing countries.

Open Discussion: During the ensuing discussion, Sharma noted that developing countries cannot build up food security without first achieving food sufficiency and good governance. Roberts disagreed, saying he supported an open trading system that is rules-based. Horsch suggested that food security is generally more important than self sufficiency, but food sufficiency may take precedence over food security at the individual level.

Regarding questions on the pressure on the income levels of farmers, Hughes suggested strengthening marketing systems and taking collective action in light of individual small farmers being unable to confront the bargaining power of large supermarkets.

Toepfer pointed to both success stories and failures of developing countries in the export market. Participants discussed the export of tapioca from Thailand as a positive example.

On special interest groups, a participant from New Zealand asked about the effects of the environmental movement on trade negotiations. Sirimongkolkasem noted that producers from developing countries are forced to follow regulations dictated by groups in developed countries and a Brazilian participant pointed to unintended negative or inhibiting effects of such standards in developing countries. Horsch distinguished voluntary and mandatory sustainability tools, finding that the latter are usually created where there is not enough concern in the general public to ensure voluntary compliance.

On CSR, a US participant asked whether industry’s only role is to produce food or if it should also address broader social issues. Hughes said the latter was of greater importance in Europe than in the US, and its importance would continue to grow globally. A participant from Pakistan raised concerns that governments in developing countries are transferring the responsibility for food security to the private sector. Bolger noted that this is irresponsible where there is no market.

CLOSING SUMMARY AND REMARKS

Emphasizing his sense of hope at the close of the WAF Congress, Bolger summarized the Congress’s discussions, and said the Congress put into context how agriculture can help achieve security and global peace. Noting the many issues raised, he indicated that the role of science was not widely discussed although it is a key tool to feed today’s world. He said lessons learned from each of the thematic sessions include that: the outcome of political initiatives will have an impact on how we collectively feed the world; water is the sustainer of all life; scientific research and technology transfer will lead to greater productivity and support the needs of the human race; biofuels should be used where there is waste, in particular in developing countries; local people such as women can provide a better livelihood for their families and communities using microcredit and microfinance; and markets do work, but operate differently in many countries. Bolger suggested that in the near term, the developed world markets will be dictated by elderly people and the challenge is to improve people’s quality of life in the next century. The WAF Congress closed at 3:35pm CT.

UPCOMING MEETINGS

INTERNATIONAL CONGRESS ON INTEGRATED WATER RESOURCES MANAGEMENT AND CHALLENGES OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT: This Congress will take place from 23 - 25 May 2005 in Marrakesh, Morocco. It will allow specialists to present and exchange information about the latest developments in their work on Integrated Water Resources Management. Topics will include: tools and technologies applied to the integrated management of water resources; impact of climatic changes, new hydraulic structures and socio-economic development on water resources; and quantitative and qualitative aspects of integrated and sustainable water resources management. For more information contact: Congress Secretariat; tel: +1-212-44-434-649; fax: +1-212-44-437-411; e-mail: gire3d@ucam.ac.ma; Internet: http://www.fstg-marrakech.ac.ma/gire3d/anglais/index1.htm

WTO COUNCIL AND COMMITTEE MEETINGS 2005: Numerous World Trade Organization Council and Committee sessions are scheduled to take place throughout 2005 in Geneva, Switzerland. The General Council has sessions scheduled for 26-27 May, 27 and 29 July, 19-20 October, and 1-2 December. The Committee on Trade and Development is scheduled to meet on 20 July and 5-6 October 2005. The Agriculture Committee and/or negotiating group convenes from 30-31 May, 1-3 June, 11-15 July, 22 September, and 10 November 2005. The Committee on Trade and Environment is scheduled for 7-8 July and 12 October. Numerous other meetings relevant to sustainable development and environmental issues are also scheduled. These include sessions of the Sub-Committee on Least Developed Countries, Working Group on Trade, Debt and Finance, Council for Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs), and Committee on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures. For more information contact: WTO Secretariat; tel: +41-22-739-5111; fax: +41-22-731-4206; e-mail: enquiries@wto.org; Internet:
http://www.wto.org/english/news_e/meets.pdf

SECOND MEETING OF THE CONFERENCE OF THE PARTIES TO THE CBD SERVING AS THE MEETING OF THE PARTIES TO THE CARTAGENA PROTOCOL ON BIOSAFETY: The Cartagena Protocol COP/MOP-2 will take place from 30 May to 3 June 2005 in Montreal, Canada. For more information contact: CBD Secretariat; tel: +1-514-288-2220; fax: +1-514-288-6588; e-mail: secretariat@biodiv.org; Internet: http://www.biodiv.org/doc/meeting.aspx?mtg=MOP-02

FAO E-MAIL CONFERENCE ON BIOTECHNOLOGY AND CHARACTERIZATION/CONSERVATION OF GENETIC RESOURCES: The FAO Biotechnology Forum is devoting an e-mail conference, which will take place between 30 May and 26 June 2005, to the role that biotechnology can play in the characterization and conservation of crop, animal, forestry and fishery genetic resources in developing countries. This will be the 13th conference hosted by the Forum since it was launched in 2000. All e-mail messages posted during the conference will also be placed on the Forum website. For more information contact: e-mail: biotech-mod1@fao.org; Internet: http://www.fao.org/biotech/conf13.htm

MEETING ON “AGRICULTURAL BIOTECHNOLOGY: TEN YEARS AFTER”: This meeting, which will take place from 6 - 10 July 2005 in Ravello, Italy, is being organized by the International Consortium on Agricultural Biotechnology Research (ICABR). The event will focus on, inter alia, the impact of agricultural biotechnology on international trade, public acceptance of biotechnology, the impact of science, intellectual property rights, biotechnology and developing countries, and regulation of biotechnology. For more information contact: Vittorio Santaniello; ICABR; tel: +39-06-72-595-843; fax: +39-06-72-595-721; e-mail: icabr@economia.uniroma2.it; Internet: http://www.economia.uniroma2.it/conferenze/icabr2005/Default.asp

FIFTH CONFERENCE OF THE EUROPEAN FEDERATION FOR INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY IN AGRICULTURE, FOOD AND ENVIRONMENT AND THIRD WORLD CONGRESS ON COMPUTERS IN AGRICULTURE AND NATURAL RESOURCES: This EFITA/WCCA 2005 Joint Conference, which is scheduled from 25-28 July 2005 in Vila Real, Portugal, is intended as an international forum for agriculture-related professionals to exchange information on applications and developments in the use of information technologies. For more information contact: Conference Secretariat, EFITA/WCCA 2005; fax: +351-259-350480; e-mail: efita.wcca2005@utad.pt; Internet: http://www.agriculturadigital.org/efitaandwcca2005

EIGHTH INTERNATIONAL RIVER SYMPOSIUM: This Symposium will take place from 2-11 September 2005 in Brisbane, Australia. River Symposium 2005 will focus on some of the pressing issues in water and food security, such as transboundary catchment conflicts and resolutions, water scarcity and urban and rural tensions over sharing water resources. Institutional and legal arrangements for river management will be featured along with work on rivers as corridors. For more information contact: International River Festival; tel: +61-7-3846-7444; fax: +61-7-3846-7660; e-mail: glenn@riverfestival.com.au; Internet: http://www.riverfestival.com.au

19TH INTERNATIONAL CONGRESS ON IRRIGATION AND DRAINAGE (ICID): This Congress will convene from 10-18 September 2005 in Beijing, China. The theme of the Congress will be “Use of water and land for food security and environmental sustainability.” For more information contact: Chinese National Committee on Irrigation and Drainage; tel: +86-10-62-10-3104; fax: +86-10-62-18-0141; e-mail: info@icid2005.org; Internet: http://www.icid2005.org/

HIGH-LEVEL PLENARY MEETING OF THE 60TH SESSION OF THE UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY ON THE FOLLOW-UP TO THE OUTCOME OF THE MILLENNIUM SUMMIT:  This meeting is scheduled to take place from 14-16 September 2005 in New York, US. The Millennium +5 Summit is expected to undertake a comprehensive review of the progress made towards the commitments articulated in the UN Millennium Declaration. For more information contact: Internet:
http://www.un.org/events/index.html

18TH INTERNATIONAL CONGRESS OF NUTRITION: NUTRITION SAFARI FOR INNOVATIVE SOLUTIONS: This Congress will convene in Durban, South Africa, from 19-24 September 2005. Organized by the International Union of Nutritional Sciences (IUNS), the main congress will be preceded by ‘nutrition safaris’ and entail safaris in southern Africa of small groups (20-30) of nutrition scientists and practitioners focusing on a specialized area of nutrition. For more information contact: safari@puk.ac.za; Internet: http://www.puk.ac.za/iuns

15TH IFOAM ORGANIC WORLD CONGRESS: This Congress will convene from 19-23 September 2005 in Adelaide, Australia. This conference is being organized by the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) and the National Association for Sustainable Agriculture Australia. For more information contact: Jan Denham, Conference Coordinator; tel: +61-8-8339-7800; fax: +61-8-8339-7800;
e-mail:
ifoam2005@nasaa.com.au; Internet: http://www.nasaa.com.au/ifoam/ 

THIRD WORLD CONGRESS ON CONSERVATION AGRICULTURE: This Congress will convene from 3-7 October 2005 in Nairobi, Kenya. Held under the theme of “Linking Production, Livelihoods and Conservation,” it aims to build and strengthen the role of conservation agriculture in the attainment of socio-economic development and sustainable natural resource management. For more information contact: Martin Bwalya, Congress Sectretariat; tel: +263-4-334395; fax: +263-4-332853; e-mail: mbwalya@africaonline.co.zw; Internet: http://www.act.org.zw/

SIXTH WTO MINISTERIAL CONFERENCE: This Conference is scheduled to take place from 13-18 December 2005 in Hong Kong, China. This major event for the World Trade Organization is expected to mark a key moment in the Doha round of trade negotiations. The conference will be preceded by numerous formal and informal preparatory meetings and events. For more information contact: WTO Secretariat; tel: +41-22-739-5111; fax: +41-22-731-4206; e-mail: enquiries@wto.org; Internet: http://www.wto.org/english/thewto_e/minist_e/min05_e/min05_e.htm

CBD COP-8 AND BIOSAFETY COP/MOP-3: This meeting will convene from 8-26 May 2006 in a Brazilian city that has not yet been confirmed. The eighth meeting of the CBD Conference of the Parties is scheduled to meet from 8-19 May, followed by the third meeting of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Biosafety Protocol, which will meet from 22-26 May. For more information contact: CBD Secretariat; tel: +1-514-288-2220; fax: +1-514-288-6588; e-mail: secretariat@biodiv.org; Internet: http://www.biodiv.org/meetings/default.aspx


The World Agricultural Forum Congress Bulletin is a publication of the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) <info@iisd.ca>, publishers of the Earth Negotiations Bulletin � <enb@iisd.org>. This issue was written and edited by Lauren Flejzor and Nicole Schabus. The Digital Editor is Francis Dejon. The editor is Lynn Wagner, Ph.D. <lynn@iisd.org>. The Director of IISD Reporting Services is Langston James �Kimo� Goree VI <kimo@iisd.org>. Funding for coverage of this meeting has been provided by the World Agricultural Forum. IISD can be contacted at 161 Portage Avenue East, 6th Floor, Winnipeg, Manitoba R3B 0Y4, Canada; tel: +1-204-958-7700; fax: +1-204-958-7710. The opinions expressed in the Bulletin are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of IISD. Excerpts from the Bulletin may be used in other publications with appropriate academic citation. Electronic versions of the Bulletin are sent to e-mail distribution lists (ASCII and PDF format) and can be found on the Linkages WWW-server at <http://www.iisd.ca/>. For information on the Bulletin, including requests to provide reporting services, contact the Director of IISD Reporting Services at <kimo@iisd.org>, +1-646-536-7556 or 212 East 47th St. #21F, New York, NY 10017, USA.