Global Agrifood Forum 2021 exceeded expectations – Executive World

By Luis Fernando Haro Encinas | General Director of the National Agricultural Council

From November 9 to 12 of this year, the 18th Edition of the Global Agrifood Forum was held, in a hybrid format, with the slogan Transforming the Future of the Sector; This event is organized annually by the National Agricultural Council since 2004, and this time it was held within the framework of the Guanajuato Agri-Food Expo, in the City of Irapuato, with the Government of the State of Guanajuato being the host.

The Global Hybrid Agri-Food Forum 2021, had the participation of 7,326 people, who were monitoring the technical program virtually and in person, consisting of: 4 keynote conferences, 5 thematic panels and a Conversation of the Mexican Agri-Food Sector made up of 2 lectures and 2 dialogue tables. A total of 36 speakers from 17 countries participated (United States, Italy, Costa Rica, Singapore, Belgium, Peru, Brazil, Germany, Netherlands, Uruguay, Mexico, Ireland, United Kingdom, Chile, Colombia, Australia and France), a figure historical record, belonging to four continents: America, Europe, Asia and Oceania.

High-level speakers

In this eighteenth edition we had the participation of important personalities as speakers, among which are: Rattan Lal, Nobel Peace Prize and World Food Prize 2020; Donatella Spano, Member of the European Center for the Mediterranean on Climate Change; Johan Swinnen, Director General of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI); Manuel Otero, Director General of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA); and Carolina Trivelli, Senior Advisor in Strategic Analysis of the FAO Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean; In addition, other entities participated, such as: the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Australia and Costa Rica, the European Commission, Deloitte, Rabobank and some Embassies, among other public and private institutions.

Current issues in the agri-food sector

Issues of great relevance for the agri-food sector were addressed, such as: challenges, skills, strengths and opportunities; prospects for markets; promoting the South-Southeast and sectoral policy; financing and risk management; learnings from COVID-19 in supply chains; the new normal and digitization; resilience and mitigation to climate change; new trends in consumption; sustainability and productivity; the welfare of workers; the transformation of agri-food systems; among others.

Challenges to face the growing demand for food

Among the main messages released, it was pointed out that agri-food production has great challenges to overcome, such as climate change, the scarcity of natural resources, droughts and the growing demand for food, without neglecting the challenge of production. with a sustainable approach. Currently, Mexico faces the challenge of developing an efficient food system in the face of the increase in the population, which is estimated to reach 150 million people within three decades.

Likewise, there is a complex panorama generated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which pushed around 150 million people into extreme poverty in the world; In this sense, the speakers declared that trade restrictions are the worst possible response to safeguard food security; It was indicated that to address the challenges, the desirable characteristics of the food systems of the future are: resilience, inclusion, sustainability, efficiency and health; and for these to be sustainable there are 7 dimensions, which will require your urgent attention:

  1. Environmental
  2. Social
  3. Economical
  4. Cultural
  5. Institutional
  6. Politics
  7. Governance

Technological Innovation as an answer

On the other hand, the role of supply chains was highlighted, since they are a fundamental part of the food supply; It was pointed out that, taking into account what happened with COVID-19, it is necessary to be aware that in the future there will be other threats that will involve systemic risks, such as extreme weather events, armed conflicts, forced migration, loss of biodiversity and others. pandemics that will affect that activity.

Therefore, today more than ever, cutting-edge technological tools should be used, in addition to creating spaces for the development of new innovations and their application; This is the case of the acceleration of digitization in the sector in the last two years.

More inclusive, sustainable and resilient Food Systems

It was noted that crises are opportunities to rethink the way food systems work, and adopt recovery measures that allow the transition, in the long term, to agricultural economies that are more inclusive, sustainable and resilient to disruptions.

Finally, another message emphasized the need for climate-smart agriculture to transform threats into opportunities; also work towards nutritionally designed agriculture, with greater aggregation and appropriation of value, according to current and future needs and the challenges that we will face.

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Global Agrifood Forum 2021 exceeded expectations – Executive World