I found it very interesting and enlightening to participate in the first-ever Global Food Security Forum in Rabat, Morocco from March 7th to 9th, 2012, under the high patronage of His Majesty King Mohammed VI of Morocco.
Over 300 experts, officials, practitioners, and stakeholders from over 50 countries attended the conference that was organized by the OCP, Morocco’s phosphate company. We did not meet to only discuss the challenges of feeding an ever-growing world population in developing countries; we were there to exchange ideas and collaborate on how to take action in order to solve these problems. Most of the participants were from India, Southeast Asia, Africa, and Latin America, where food security is a great challenge.
More people are hungry as population grows and food becomes scarcer
The world population is growing rapidly, and food is becoming scarcer. There are over a billion people who suffer from hunger and malnutrition. Global food security is about making sure that food is available to everyone, and that people do not live in hunger or in fear of starvation.
Making the challenge part of the solution
A major issue discussed at the forum was how we can turn the challenge of global food security to be part of the solution. One of the speakers mentioned that he would like to look at smallholders in the developing world not as the problem but as part of the solution. This conforms to the Netafim approach to smallholders, where we supply poor farmers with drip irrigation, training, fertilizer, good seeds, and infrastructure, so that they can become productive farmers and produce food for themselves and others.
“Inside the Farm’s Gate”
I participated in a panel discussion on the topic “Inside the Farm’s Gate”. I spoke about drip irrigation and the solution that the Netafim drip irrigation brings to smallholders. I also addressed the various issues of bio energy, water, and climate change.
At one of the more memorable workshops at the forum, we were divided into groups of 8-10 people. On each group’s table, they placed three items. The idea was that rather than discuss and argue about our resolutions, we should choose an item and write suggestions, going for quantity rather than quality, and think both out of the box and in the box. The main objective was to write and send as many suggestions as possible. This method was very effective – 150 suggestions were submitted. Each member of the workshop was asked to select the three top suggestions for each item.
The GFSF Forum concludes with a decision on measures to improve global food security
The GFSF Forum concluded with a decision to implement the following measures to improve global food security:
- Perform in-depth analysis of the drivers of and solutions to world food security challenges, with an emphasis on local and regional particularities.
- Improve the image of agriculture as a sustainable and profitable industry so that investors, entrepreneurs, and talented individuals become interested.
- Instead of blaming the developing countries for the problems of food security, look for ways how they can collaborate to solve these problems, and not only feed their own people, but feed the world’s hungry.
- Call on the government to strengthen food security by enabling private investment and innovation.
- Provide farmers with the knowledge, resources, and technology to become innovative and productive in producing food.
- Increase the influence of international organizations and programs focused on agriculture and food security.
The magnificent weather, the unbelievable Moroccan hospitality, the organization and style of the forum, and the feeling that we made progress in solving the global food security challenge, left us with a good taste and with anticipation for next year’s conference.