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|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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