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How to feed the world? Over 50 countries to discuss on Feb 23-24

A new wave of business opportunities spanning the global food ecosystem will be unlocked at the ground-breaking Food For Future Summit and Global Agtech Expo later this month as the industry looks to address an impending agricultural shortfall that could fail to produce enough to feed the world’s anticipated 10 billion population by 2050.

More than 150 high-calibre industry speakers and a host of food, agritech and start-up pioneers from more than 50 countries will convene for the first-of-its-kind summit, organised by Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC), at Dubai Exhibition Centre on February 23-24.

The events, hosted by the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation as a strategic partner, come at the optimum time to galvanise the industry and catalyse a worldwide food security movement, according to global food innovators.

Public-private sector collaboration will be key for a sustainable and secure future, says the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, focused on advanced economic development and improving people’s lives by encouraging the growth of the private sector in developing countries.

“Food security is not something that exists in isolation. Solving the food needs of populations requires collaboration between governments and the private sector. At the IFC, we invest in agribusiness to build food security and economic opportunities, in parallel with advisory work to strengthen food safety and security, improve business practices, and make value chains more inclusive by integrating smallholders, MSMEs (micro, small and medium enterprises) and women,” said Prasad Gopalan, manager, Agribusiness and Forestry, IFC.

“We have found that collaboration between government and industry, and with consumers and other stakeholders is critical to building effective, safe, and sustainable systems that underpin food security and promote food safety. Where do we see collaboration needed? It depends on the specific country, and this may require, amongst other things, identifying and removing tariffs and other distortions that impede efficient agricultural activity and affordability of food products, improving agricultural and digital infrastructure, and providing essential extension services for farmers and other supply chain participants. This, together with a stable regulatory system, allows the private sector to thrive and innovate to address food security challenges now and in the future,” Gopalan added.

Success also requires investing in agribusiness. IFC is expected to commit about US$1 billion in cumulative investments over the next decade in the Middle East’s agribusiness sector, across the entire Ag value chain – from inputs to production and processing to distribution and food retail.

“All our investments will be aligned with our strategic focus on food security and nutrition, enhancing linkages and efficiencies across value chains, and making sustainability a business driver,” explained Gopalan.

André Laperriere, Executive Director at GODAN, the network that makes agriculture and nutrition data open and searchable, believes the summit comes at a time of great importance for increasing global understanding. He said, “It is very important to increase the world’s awareness on the impact of disruptions in the global food systems, food waste and climate change, and their impact on food security.”

Laperriere, who is also a speaker at the Food For Future Global Leaders Symposium, added, “Our hope for the Food For Future Summit is for it to stimulate partnerships that cause concrete action for food security solutions.”

“Our ambition for this event is for an honest discussion on the global issues facing our food system that affect our society and stimulate collaboration between innovators to make a difference,” commented Henry Gordon-Smith, Founder and CEO of Agritecture, the world’s leading advisory firm on urban and controlled environment agriculture.

Gordon-Smith, who will be leading a talk titled “The Past, Present, and Future of Urban Agriculture” expressed the importance of raising awareness and analysing data available to tackle urban agriculture, added, “My aim is to help the audience understand that there are significant amounts of evidence that urban agriculture works when it is designed properly. I hope to give them hope for the future and a pathway to successful change.”

Nikita Patel, Founder, Oasis Greens, the UAE’s newest local farm, which grows fresh, pesticide-free produce locally and delivers to customers the day its harvested, believes the summit will propel the Emirates to the forefront of an agritech revolution.

“As a hydroponics farm operator in the UAE, I look forward to using this summit to share best practices and connect with others in the UAE agriculture sector so we can all support each other in building robust and sustainable food systems.”

“This truly is a ground-breaking event in which global food and agritech innovators will provide a unique opportunity for delegates and visitors to deep dive into Agriculture 4.0, croptech, farming and health, as well as aquaculture, which combined are the fastest-growing segment in the food animal industry and forecast to hit US$275 billion within the next three years,” said Trixie LohMirmand, executive vice president, Exhibitions and Events, DWTC, organisers of the summit.

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