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James Borel, Group Vice President of agricultural and chemicals multinational DuPont, represented ICC during the High-level Thematic Debate on Rural Development organized by the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) here on 3 July 2008.
Mr Borel detailed a five-point plan for reforming the agricultural economy to UN members and other stakeholders. He also highlighted the importance of a successful agricultural economy, not only as short-term solution for poverty alleviation but also as a requirement for achieving sustainability.
“Agriculture must be a higher priority in a world of increasing food demand and limited resources,” Mr Borel said.
Buttressing his argument, Mr Borel cited a recent World Bank study, “Down to Earth,” which showed that sound economic growth of the farm sector was at least twice as effective at reducing poverty as any other sector. It used the Asian manufacturing boom as an example, which was preceded by development of the region’s farm sector.
According to Mr Borel, five essential elements are needed to lift small-scale farmers out of poverty:
-Improved access to markets, especially through cell phones and laptops to limit farmers’ reliance on middlemen and to tap new markets
-Access to improved inputs, such as machinery and hybrid seeds, to boost productivity and move farmers away from subsistence farming, through public-private partnerships and targeted subsidy and credit programmes
-Secure land tenure, especially for women, to increase the capacity of farmers to use and to invest in new technology
-Improved access to credit and insurance so farmers can invest in modern machinery, fertilizer and seeds, and buy or lease land
-Minimize losses before and after harvest, to improve farmers’ incomes and their capacity to invest in technology and sound management practices
“Rebuilding will require cooperation among stakeholders,” Mr Borel stated. “It cannot happen without the involvement, specifically, of local farmers, entrepreneurs, retailers, transport services, grain handlers, food processors and extension services.”
Mr Borel stressed that at the international level, the rapid and successful conclusion of the Doha Round was an essential step in addressing current problems.
“Nationally, investments in roads and storage facilities are urgently needed as an essential first step at improving small-scale farmers’ access to markets,” he added.
ICC has had official consultative status with the UN since 1946 and regularly furnishes input on the important role of the business sector in alleviating poverty.
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