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Updated: 19 April 2012
April 2012                                                                    WAF - update                                                                       Page 2
The 2011 Congress in Brussels – a Retrospect

The World Agricultural Forum’s 2011 Congress took place in
Brussels from the 28th November to the 1st December
2011.  The event, the first major WAF Congress outside of St
Louis, was judged a success by those who spoke and
attended the various events  –  some 240 delegates in total.  
The many compliments to the WAF focused on the breadth,
topicality and quality of the speakers and discussion and the
seriousness with which topics were covered.   
“Country Life” in its end of year issue of the 14th December
2011,  “All was presented in a  matter-of-fact way.  It wasn’t
farmers whingeing, but businessmen looking at the world as it
is – the sober present reality against which they set the
looming certainties of shortage.  It drove clear conclusions.
Scientific research must again become central to agriculture
and the irrational fears of genetic modification set aside.  
Farmers must become bigger and better organized and
more able to insist on proper returns.  Food will have to take
the larger proportion of income that it once did.  Care for soil
quality and conservation of water will be paramount ”.    
Dr. Said N. Silim, Director Eastern and Southern Africa for
ICRISAT, Kenya, said “It was really great to have the
opportunity to attend such a wonderful gathering where who-is-
who in the private sector and public, non-governmental and
farmer organizations participated.  I learnt a lot through
presentations and discussions. I also enjoyed meeting people
whom I would have never had the opportunity to meet”.
Commented Dr. John Llewellyn, “”Reforming agricultural
policies is a long, slow process, with entrenched interests
seeking to resist any significant change. Moreover, many
regions of the world have an instinctive distrust of markets,
and hence of market-based policies. All that can be done is
for analysts to continue to supply market-minded politicians
and policymakers with honest assessments of the costs of
present policies, and the benefits potentially available from
changing them”.
Those presentations which have been received and some of
the review articles can be seen in full on the WAF website at
Many thanks to all those who contributed and participated for
making the 2011 Congress such a memorable event.  
Future issues of WAF update will review further papers and
conclusions from the 2011 Congress

Congress Delegates (l-r) : Rainer von Mielecki, Ken Baker,
Leonard Guarraia, Ren Wang (background), Franz Fischler
The 2011 Congress theme was long-term global food
security.  What were the conclusions?

Declining investment in agricultural  research and development was the one theme
which consistenly came up and which many delegates said is responsible for the
current inability to ensure food security.  Georg Häusler, the European Agriculture
Commissioner’s Head of Cabinet even said the situation with respect to the application of
science and technology to agriculture in the European Union had reached a serious and
dangerous position hence the proposed reform of the Common Agriculture Policy puts
forward extensive funding for the promotion of technology.
Paul Collier, professor of Economics at Oxford University in a plenary lecture said the
rejection of technologies such as biotechnology in agriculture was scandalous, a view
that was repeated by Lord Deben, otherwise known as John Gummer, the former UK
Minister of Agriculture.  Both were very critical of the activities of a number of interest
groups in this regard.   Mark Ekstein of the World Wildlife Fund spoke of the need to get
“more from less” while others said getting “more from the same” would be a good start.
Professor Ren Wang, Vice-President of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAAS)
described Government research in agriculture (see below)_and the application of drip
irrigation on a vast scale in China and which markedly reduced the amount of water
used to increase grain production, while still retaining much of the character of Chinese
dry-lands. Dr Arvind Kumar, Deputy Director General of the Indian Council of
Agricultural Research (ICAR) described the huge advances in animal breeding in India
while all the while not too abruptly disrupting the small-holder characteristics of Indian
agriculture and thus avoiding social disruption.
On the other hand many, many speakers spoke of the negative effects subsidies have
had and are having on investment in agricultural R&D.  Bruce Tozer Head of
Agricultural Products at Crédit Agricole pronounced that the current under-investment in
agriculture is the result of programmes such as the EU’s Common Agriculture Policy
and the US’s Farm Bill, i.e. subsidies reduce the future incentive to improve and adapt.  
There was a widespread view that agricultural subsidies had been very damaging to the
long term ability of the world to feed itself in the future.  

China: Goverrnment investment in agricultural research – billion yuan at 2005 rate
In 2012, China’s public sector investment in agricultural R&D was 0.8% of the total agricultural
GDP, a significant increase from that of 0.25% in the 1990’s, but still less than the 1-1.2%
      agricultural GDP for developing countries recommended by the FAO.
                                                                Source: Dr Ren Wang
Some of the delegates at the Brussels Congress – Seated in the foreground is
Mr. V. Nagi Reddy,Principal Secretary to the Government of Andhra Pradesh
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