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Making It, Issue 6: Agribusiness: from farm to fork. June 2011

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This issue of Making It: Industry for Development looks at some aspects of the broad concept of agribusiness, often defined as the whole range of business activities that are performed from farm to fork, but also including the processing of raw materials for the production of many non-food items, such as textiles, paper and biofuel. Agribusiness covers the supply of agricultural inputs, the production and processing of agricultural products, and their distribution to the consumer. It is big business, like agribusiness giants, Cargill, Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), and Bunge, but it is also small business, like the Indian worker drying rice with the aid of his moped in the picture below.

As Kanayo Nwanze points out, agribusiness is the key to resolving two of the great challenges of our time: reducing the poverty of the world’s small farmers and feeding the world’s growing population. Agribusiness is the crucial space between the world’s 500 million small farms, and the world’s seven billion hungry people. Patrick Kormawa expounds on exactly this in the context of sub-Saharan Africa, outlining a new strategic framework for agribusiness development that can stimulate growth and reduce poverty across the continent.

But can agribusiness, as it has developed in recent decades, continue in a world increasingly concerned about carbon emissions, water scarcity and the threat to biodiversity? Elsewhere in this issue, Egypt’s Helmy Abouleish and India’s Vandana Shiva stress the merits of organic agricultural inputs; Paul Bulcke, CEO of the world’s largest food and drink company, explains how Nestlé is taking action all along the length of its supply chain; Guillermo Garcia reveals how value-added agro-products can be a viable alternative to coca in Colombia; and Johanna Sorrell wonders if surging palm oil production can be sustainable.

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