It is now 2050. Globally, we are 9 billion strong. Only 20% of us are directly involved in agriculture, and poor country economies have diversified. Yet we all have enough food. Technological innovation has played its part, but increased production has been largely driven by institutional reform. For example, industrialized countries have eliminated the subsidies that once undercut poor country agricultural production and exports. Land reform has spread in Latin America. Water reform has proceeded in Asia. Irrigation, which once constituted 70% of freshwater use, now consumes less than 50%. New agronomic practices are taking hold worldwide. The world is eating more healthily and locally. The sustainability of our agricultural systems is taken as non-negotiable by the world’s politicians.
The key? Institutional reform. And the key to institutional reform has been placing citizens and primary producers in more central oversight and ownership positions, with governments stepping back and taking more responsibility for managing at watershed and ecosystem levels.