Growers' role in unravelling the ‘Paradox of Plenty’

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THE recent Oxford Farming Conference Bitesize webinar brought together speakers from across the world to unravel the ‘Paradox of Plenty’, a theme first debated at the 1984 conference when the idea emerged that countries rich in natural resources, experience less economic growth.

The webinar was chaired by Sarah Mukherjee, OFC Director and Chief Executive of IEMA who reflected on why growers appear to be making very little money from the goods and services they produce. 

One of the guest speakers, India farmer Chandrashekhar Bhadsavle, believes growers can help the change themselves through a culture that enables more to be produced from the land itself. He said: “The land and the soil, were most of our food is produced, has started dying. This death of soil is due to over exploitation and greed to produce plenty. We can reverse this, through no-till, regenerative agriculture.” 

He also believes agri-tourism can draw more young people into the industry.

“Young people are not interested in coming into this industry. They’re losing interest because it’s monotonous, it’s less remunerative and, most importantly, there is no dignity in doing this work," he said. "Agritourism is important to fix this with farmers sharing their knowledge and feeling a sense of pride in their work.”

Daniel McGahey, Senior Environmental and Social Scientist at Earth Systems, gave attendees an insight into the regenerative agricultural systems in Sub-Saharan Africa and the emerging trade opportunities.
“I think drylands are key when looking to understanding Sub-Saharan Africa’s vulnerability within the food system and some of the pathways that we could help the continent navigate the challenges faced like climate change, market, and integration into global markets," he said

The free trade agreement which now exists in Africa, along with the "insatiable demand" for processed food on the continent presented a real opportunity for entrepreneurial growers, Daniel added.