A blog for ag innovators and investors
Viewing entries posted in February 2012
One of GAIN’s missions is the promotion of the importance of careers in agriculture and “agripreneurship” and the need to educate those interested in these career paths. Clearly, with the un-deniable need to double the world’s food production by 2050 (or so) the world needs talent in the creation/invention of innovative ag technologies and the commercialization of the same. There is also the need for experts in traditional agricultural careers such as field inspectors, veterinarians (who I have a ton of respect for) and of course plant scientists such as those at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center (www.danforthcenter.org a GAIN Founding Sponsor) and other prestigious plant science and ag organizations. An excerpt from Western Farm Press highlights such a need for talent and effort– and lack of SUPPLY!
In this post, I want to talk about a couple of interesting letters and articles that address the need for agtech innovation.
The first, and most important, is Bill Gates’ annual letter that addresses, in a keen fashion, the importance of agtech innovation to the world’s poor. He opens with the following:
“[T]he private market does a great job of innovating in many areas, particularly for people who have money. The focus of Melinda’s and my foundation is to encourage innovation in the areas where there is less profit opportunity but where the impact for those in need is very high. That is why we have devoted almost $2 billion to helping poor farm families, most of which are led by women, boost their productivity while preserving the land for future generations. Those funds are invested in many areas of innovation, ranging from sustainable land management, to better ways to educate farmers, to connecting farmers to functioning markets.”
He goes on to discuss the rising price of food, the decline in the number of farmers around the world, especially in the developed world, and the erosion of the amount of money spent on ag aid. He makes the following comment on the post-Green Revolution period:
“But the world’s success in warding off famine led to complacency. Over time, governments in both developed and developing countries focused less on agriculture. Agricultural aid fell from 17 percent of all aid from rich countries in 1987 to just 4 percent in 2006. In the past 10 years, the demand for food has gone up because of population growth and economic development—as people get richer, they tend to eat more meat, which indirectly raises demand for grain. Supply growth has not kept up, leading to higher prices.”
This reduction in spending impacts GAIN’s members, as well. We have less nascent technology to follow for a potential commercialization opportunity. Fewer scientists are choosing plant and other agricultural sciences as a career, which lessens the number of minds working on problems (opportunities) and the number of collaborators.