Agriculture provides the food, fiber and energy that helps propel human activity on a day-to-day basis around the world. But agriculture provides much more than food. It also provides livelihoods – not just for farmers, but for everyone involved in the value chain, including those who sell, process, transport, market, and eventually consume the many products that emerge as a result of the seeds the farmer plants, tends and harvests. That is the exponential value agriculture brings to humanity – the value farmers everywhere have always brought to the places they live and grow.

Yet, subsistence and smallholder farmers are some of the poorest people in the world. Nearly 1 billion people go hungry everyday, and half of the hungry are farmers.

Increasing the amount of food has always been a struggle, and each era in history has seen its own innovations and setbacks. Today’s major challenge is for agriculture to produce much more with fewer resources. For example, many regions experience water and resource scarcity, while agriculture accounts for 70 percent of water use on the planet.

Rapid population growth demands that farmers must double their production by the year 2050 to keep up with the nearly 10 billion people who will inhabit our planet. By then, the planet will require 70 percent more food than it does today.

It’s clear that the world needs a New Vision for Agriculture.

The World Economic Forum and the New Vision for Agriculture

The World Economic Forum is an independent international organization committed to improving the state of the world by engaging business, political, academic and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas. The annual World Economic Forum is held in Davos, Switzerland, and a very small group of Monsanto leaders are among the more than 2,500 global leaders who participate. This is the 44th World Economic Forum Annual Meeting and it takes place January 22 to 25, 2014.

In 2009, a group of World Economic Forum partners and constituents, which included Monsanto, outlined a New Vision for Agriculture as a critical component to sustainably meet the world’s growing need for safe, nutritious food, using and preserving resources in sustainable way, and driving and helping to nurture local and national economies. The vision sets goals for improving food security, environmental sustainability and economic opportunity by 20 percent per decade until 2050.

Achieving these goals requires a transformation of the agricultural sector in many world regions. The vision calls for a strong focus on the following:

  • Country-level leadership driven by local stakeholders in partnership with global organizations.
  • Multi-stakeholder focus, engaging government, the private sector, international organizations, civil society, farmers associations and others.
  • Market-based activity, focusing on improving and expanding sustainable investments and working with farmers to improve the agricultural value chain from harvest to market.
  • Alignment with national plans, regional strategies and global goals.

Monsanto is one of the 33 partner companies of the World Economic Forum that coordinates with governments, civil society (the private sector, NGOs, etc.), international organizations, farmers associations, research institutions and many other stakeholders to attempt to make the New Vision for Agriculture a reality. Monsanto partners with others in several countries including Tanzania and Sub-Saharan Africa, Mexico, Vietnam, Indonesia and India.

Like all the partners involved, Monsanto brings to the table a desire to help drive implementation through sharing innovations and technical knowledge, investing in programs and projects that align both with the core business and the goals of the New Vision for Agriculture, and in helping to create and nurture future generations of experts who share these desires to implement the New Vision.

Value Chain Initiatives

Monsanto’s value chain partnerships are aimed at helping farmers better manage their farms and navigate between harvest and market. With partnerships, Monsanto helps farmers learn better methods and strengthen the market infrastructure that surrounds their efforts.

Monsanto can develop great seeds, but for farmers to succeed, they need to know how to plant and nurture them. They need information about markets, buyers and roads to get them to those buyers. In short, they need an ecosystem, an infrastructure. With that kind of support, farmers can not only feed their own families and their neighbors, but begin to climb out of poverty and make the investments needed to grow even more food.

As a result, Monsanto also is working in developing countries in ways that go beyond research and development. Some examples of current work in the agricultural value chain include the following:

Talent Pipeline

Scholars around the world today have endless choices about what to study and in what fields they should apply their life’s work. To continue to improve agriculture and unleash it as a core driver of future growth, it is vital that agriculture is a viable, attractive field of advanced study and that universities are able to attract the best and brightest into programs that help advance agricultural science. Monsanto is focused on increasing the knowledge capacity that will drive the innovation needed to respond to global hunger.

Technology Transfers

An important aspect of Monsanto’s commitment to global philanthropy involves technology transfer – donating proprietary, patented technologies and scientific expertise. This type of donation gives partners the ability to develop improved crops and bring more and better nutrition to millions of people in the developing world without having to make the large investments in research and development that a company like Monsanto does.