Global food and agribusiness leaders convened recently to urge college and graduate students from around the world to contribute their time and talent to the fight for global food security. The 2013 International Food and Agribusiness Management Association’s (IFAMA) Conference, held last week in Atlanta, focused on how to best attract, educate and retain the talent necessary to create sustained food security and economic growth to meet the needs of a rapidly growing population.
“Developing talent for agriculture is central to accelerating economic growth and food production around the world,” says Thad Simons, President and CEO of Novus International, Inc., and incoming President of IFAMA.
During the conference sessions, DuPont Executive Vice President, Jim Borel, discussed what it will take to meet the food and agriculture needs of a population that is growing by more than 150,000 people daily. “We need a new generation of food visionaries who can see the tremendous opportunity made possible by the simple fact that people have to eat,” says Borel.
The IFAMA conference featured a workshop that provided participants with a hands-on tour of a new measurement tool, the Global Food Security Index. The index assesses food affordability, availability, safety and quality in 105 countries. It was developed by The Economist Intelligence Unit and sponsored by DuPont.
“We must assure that the best minds and brightest thinkers of the next generation are fully engaged in addressing food security locally — from science and technology, transportation and logistics, and government and regulatory policy,” Borel says.
With an overarching theme of “The Road to 2050: The Talent Factor,” the 23rd Annual IFAMA World Forum focused on how to develop and sustain talent across the diverse value chain of global food production – from smallholder farmers in emerging regions of the world to the sophisticated commercial agriculture practices in mature economies.
Following Borel’s remarks, Dwight Armstrong, CEO of the National FFA Organization, spoke about the importance of mobilizing a new generation to become the stewards of American agriculture. This emphasis on the future talent of agribusiness was further discussed by professors from South Africa’s University of Stellenbosch, Earth University in Costa Rica, the University of Sao Paulo, the University of Florida, and Zamorano University in Honduras.
The conference opened on June 18 with remarks from Sonny Ramaswamy, director of USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture; Mary Shelman, director of Harvard University’s Agribusiness Program and president of IFAMA Board of Directors; and others. It concluded on June 20 with remarks from Pierre Ferrari, president of Heifer International, and Don Floyd, president and CEO of the National 4-H Council.