Farmers and food companies can build resilient supply chains


This page in:

People working on a strawberry farm in Argentina.

So the global challenge is clear: We need to sustainably feed 9 billion people in 2050, while building the resilience of farmers and food companies AND concurrently making agriculture part of the climate solution, not an increasingly large part of the problem.

Daunting? Well, yes of course, but that is why it is a “global challenge” and not just something that incremental change will solve.

There is nothing new in this story and many of the things we need to do are known, but just not done at scale. What is new is the fact that the interests, aspirations and objectives of a wide group of stakeholders are coming together. We have long searched for truly sustainable farming – one that will sustain farmers and enable them to prosper, while ensuring that the landscapes in which we live and work are not the subject of short term gain resulting in long term degradation.

For sure, there will always be issues that divide the stakeholders and in many ways that is what will help drive us to get better at what we do and sharpen the goals that we challenge each other with. However let’s focus on what we are really talking about: sustainably increasing efficiency and incomes, reducing waste and delivering a more resilient environment for the generations to come. However, this global challenge requires a transformative approach, driven by partnerships that focus on solutions and action. In reality we are far more in agreement than we might think and increasingly the willingness is there to work on the issues that we all hold important – hunger, nutrition, gender, equality and the future of our planet.    
Resilient Supply Chains: Farmers & Food Industry Tackle Climate Change
Resilient Supply Chains: Farmers & Food Industry Tackle Climate Change

So, this week in London, a wide range of stakeholders -- from NGOs to CEOs; from bankers to farmers; from scientists to multilateral organizations -- all came together to focus on what we needs to be done, how it can be done and, most importantly, how we need to do this together.

Will this be easy? The simple answer is no, but the consequences if we fail to transform our global food system are far worse to contemplate. We have to act, we have to act together and we need to act now. This will require us to find and develop new partnerships and to build trust working together on the issues than unite us.

Will 200 people packed in a room change the world on their own? Well, I guess everything starts somewhere and the reality is not that nothing is happening – it clearly is, the issue is that we need action at a far greater scale. Sometimes tipping points come in the most unusual places. Let’s see.


Marc Sadler

Adviser, Risk and Markets, Agriculture Global Practice, World Bank

Join the Conversation

Dr Sarah Tanvir
October 27, 2015

The solution of this topic lies in a multisectoral approach. Farmers have to be encouraged by providing them with facilities like good quality water , Irrigation system , Agricultural reforms and friendly tax policies , Infrastructure as in roads etc , Markets access , healthcare , Good governance , education. Support from all these sectors can lead to a good impact on farmers and food companies to build a resilient supply chain.

Marc S
May 23, 2019

Sarah. Totally agree with you. Only a systems based approach is going to solve the challenges we face and deliver on the solutions that we have available. It's time to get out of the silos and into the fields!

Subbarao Hegde
October 23, 2015

Rightly articulated the global sustainability challenge !! I agree, we must work together to address this challenge. What is the outcome of “Resilient supply chains” session held at London on 19th Oct’15.

Marc S
May 23, 2019

Subbarao. Thanks for the comments - clearly we're on the same page. The major outcomes from the event were a number of new working partnerships, some frank and open discussions between farmers and food retailers/processors and a call to create more practical examples of work on the ground. Keep an eye out on FARMD (just Google) for the proceedings, some interesting presentations and next steps. Thanks for your interest again.

Mika'il Haruna Daya
October 24, 2015

The need to maximize the potential of local farmers can't be over emphasis. Local government officials and community pressure groups need to be on board for to us achieve good results. The ecosystem based approach is undoubtedly the best solution.

Marc S
May 23, 2019

Mika'il. Absolutely, we need all the partners round the table to take on the local and global challenges. Disjointed and disconnected approaches will just not get us where we need to go. Critically, of course, we need to "do what we do" in a sustainable way. We are already way outside of a number of planetary boundaries, so we need to focus on how we can get back inside them, get better at what we do, while doing this in the face of climate change. It's a tall order, but coalitions at the local and global level are what it will take to succeed.

Malick Lingani
October 26, 2015

We need to engage young people in sustainable agriculture. Yes, I've heard that Agriculture is not attractive and I don't think so. basically, we take children from rural areas then we teach then anything about everything except Agriculture... At the net, we blame them for not loving Agriculture. I call on governments to change this they have the power to do so. The next Generation Farmers Will easily and sustainably adapt. THANKS!

Marc S
May 23, 2019

Malik. Exactly - we need youth to see agric as not only an interesting, but lucrative future. Sure, it's hard work and risky, but that is why we need to support young entrepreneurs to focus on ag. Let's remember, agric is the biggest single employer on the planet and we need to focus in on that and generate the quality employment opportunities in agric for the farmers and ag entrpreneurs of the future.

hari bagindo pasariboe
October 28, 2015

every good seeds when they fall in a good land, they have the ability to change the landscape. Stay idle is not an option. ACT now!!!!!
warmest regard
Hari Bagindo pasariboe

Marc S
May 23, 2019

Hari. Wise words indeed! We work in the most important sector, have an abundance of solutions available. We need more action to support the rural poor and to make them part of the this story as empowered and optimistic players.