De-risking farming for sustainable food

De-risking farming for sustainable food

Date: 18/01/2024

Davos 2024 Session Recap

For the first time at the recently concluded COP28 in Dubai, agriculture and food security was at the centre of global discussions; the food industry should aspire for more.

In a discussion today at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2024, panellists noted that while food systems are responsible for 30% of greenhouse gas emissions, they also receive less than 4% of climate financing. With the First Movers Coalition (FMC) for Food, members aim to accelerate sustainable farming and production methods and technologies. Specifically, it was noted that more investment is needed to scale the production of low-carbon, nature-positive food commodities, such as beef cattle, dairy, rice, row crops, soy and palm oil. 

With large players in the food industry such as PepsiCo being part of the FMC, the question arises of how we can harness the purchasing power of the world’s leading companies and governments to accelerate more sustainable production methods. 

Ramon Laguarta, Chairman and CEO, PepsiCo explained, “The global food system has a lot of opportunities and some big objectives. We need to feed eight billion people in a way that doesn’t deplete the world’s resources, while also ensuring that farmers earn a good living. PepsiCo has the opportunity to affect the two big players in the food system: the farmer and the consumer. The FMC for Food is about giving the farmer – the critical agent in the system – more certainty and de-risking the way they do agriculture. This can be done through technical knowledge transfer and adequate financing opportunities.” 

Gilberto Tomazoni, Global CEO, JBS expounded further on the key challenges of the food industry, “The good thing now is that food is at the centre of the global agenda. We’re discussing more about food security now. On the other side, the world’s population will keep on growing – to more than 8 billion by 2050 – and we need to feed them. Agriculture can be a part of the solution because it can tackle two problems at the same time. Today, 67% of our farms live in poverty. This is one of the main drivers of the FMC for Food: we need to support the farmers to make a transition for more sustainable food. It’s not that the technologies and methodologies are not available. It’s a question of bringing this knowledge and finance to these farmers.”  

Concurrently, in another discussion, panellists pondered on how to revive trade and investment with ongoing trade tensions threatening growth. It was noted that these two growth engines were critical drivers of prosperity in the past 30 years, which were now at risk due to current geo-economic shifts and fragilities.

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Director-General, WTO weighed in with a reassuring message, “The World Trade Organisation has been bullish on green trade, apart from digital products and services. Digital trade is now 15% of global trade, and growing at double the rate of overall trade growth. Our aim is to help developing countries with the investment facilitation agreement, so that we can sweep away barriers to allow investment to come in and revitalise growth in trade. Remember trade is resilient.”