Global Cooperation Key to Sharing New Technologies and Research Methods in Agriculture
2 November 2016 – The 27th edition of the Commonwealth Agriculture Conference (CAC) was officially opened today in Singapore by Her Royal Highness Princess Anne and attended by Baroness Scotland, Commonwealth Secretary General Rt. Hon Patricia Scotland and Minister for National Development and Second Minister for Finance, Mr Lawrence Wong. This was the first time that the conference was being held in Asia in its 53 years of history.
With more than 70 per cent of the world’s population slated to live in urbanized areas by 2050, the conference theme Agriculture at The Crossroad: Bridging the Rural-urban Divide underscored the need for urban communities to partake in sustainable development goals.
The CAC, organized by the Royal Agricultural Society of the Commonwealth (RASC) and hosted by the Kranji Countryside Association (KCA), brings together the best minds and hearts for the future of agriculture.
Touching on various key areas, from the global challenges in agriculture to urban farming methods, Minister Lawrence Wong said, “We must work together to tackle our shared agricultural challenges. The key to transform this sector into one that is more innovative and highly productive.”
He added, “Embracing technology is also necessary to cultivate the next generation of farmers. Robotics, sensors, closed-loop agriculture systems and the Internet-of-Things make the agriculture sector interesting and exciting to the young. This new generation can help transform farming into a high-tech profession that requires skillsets like engineering, computing and data analytics. We must continue to invest in agriculture R&D. Even as farmers embrace existing technologies, we need research to establish new frontiers in food production. We have seen the benefits of technological breakthroughs.”
Speaking at the opening ceremony, Kenny Eng, President of KCA said, “Joining the RASC in 2008 was a milestone for KCA. We were inspired by the commitment of the RASC to advancing farm livelihoods and rural economies through the promotion of agricultural best practices, activities and shows. KCA has been a beneficiary of the networks and knowledge from RASC, and we have applied many things we learned to promoting our own farms and countryside.
Cities should be part of the solution in making our world more food secure and resilient. It is therefore critical to bridge the rural-urban divide and disconnect. All stakeholders from the government, to the private sector, to non-profit organisations and schools, will need to do it together.”
Echoing the need for technology in agriculture was Mr Howard Shaw, Patron of KCA. He said, “Many agri-sectors need to play catch up with respect to applying technology to boost yields and quality of yields; more can be done to empower smallholder farmers who are responsible for a majority of global production; education and awareness of everything we do, how your food is made, needs to be heightened, particularly within our cities, so there is understanding, interest, investment.”
The CAC will be playing host to delegates from over 20 countries over the next two days as the exchange of ideas and knowledge continue through dialogue sessions carefully curated by the Organising Committee.
Highlights of the conference programme include:
Future Food: Trends in Availability and Consumer in the coming Decade
Speaker: Dr Shenggan FAN – Director General, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI); Vice-Chair of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Food and Nutrition Security and the 2014 recipient of the Hunger Hero Award from the World Food Programme in recognition of his commitment to and leadership in fighting hunger worldwide.
Sustainable Farming in a City State
Speaker: Dr NGIAM Tong Tau – Colombo Scholar, PhD from the University of London in Veterinary Medicine, with over 35 years of experience in the fields of veterinary medicine and public health, agriculture and aquaculture. Recognized as the architect of modern farming and agro-technology parks in Singapore and the captain of Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (“AVA”) for 21 years. Awarded the National Meritorious Service Medal, Public Administration Medal (Gold), the Friend of Labour and the NTUC Meritorious Service Medal.
Farming to Feed the World through Trade
Speaker: Professor Kym ANDERSON – Professor of Economics, University of Adelaide and the Australian National University. Chair of the Board of the Washington DC-based International Food Policy Research Institute, and President of the Policy Advisory Council of the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research. In 2015 he became a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC).
The Asia-Pacific Tilt
Singapore is the perfect stage for an Asia-Pacific tilt, where speakers from ASEAN including senior government officials, industry players, academic and civil society representatives will converge to share their expertise at CAC.
From Malaysia, Chief Sustainability Officer of Sime Darby Berhad Dr. Simon Lord will speak on sustainability in agri-value chains. From Philippines, small town mayor and farmer Ms. Rosalie Elasus will speak on women in agriculture, and, from Vietnam, investment expert Ms. Hong Nguyen will speak on financing farming. From sustainability to gender equality, finance to trade – Asia’s leaders shape a different narrative for the hungry continent.
Food Security: An eye on the “ball” individually and in unison
Farmers, researchers, policy makers, businesses and consumers have a shared role to play, especially in cities, the epi-centres of consumption. In Asia, food is mostly grown by smallholder farmers – agribusiness such as Syngenta are now deeply engaging and empowering them to make the quantum leap in productivity and conservation practices through a sustainable growth plan. Large retailers and supermarket chains such as Singapore’s NTUC Fairprice has also played a role in responsible sourcing and raising quality and standards. At the conference, we seek to engage all team players to work in unison through constructive dialogues.
2016 and Beyond…
CAC – the quintessential conference, organized by the Royal Agricultural Society of the Commonwealth and the Kranji Countryside Association: tackling issues of the world’s Food Production, Food Security and more, through the sharing of philosophies, practical arrangements to resolve the Rural-Urban Dichotomy – Ideologically, Spatially and Financially.
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Note to Editors
27th Commonwealth Agriculture Conference
Date: 2-4 November, 2016
Venue: Pan Pacific (Marina) Singapore
Theme: Agriculture at the Crossroads: Bridging the Rural-Urban Divide
Name: Jose Raymond ([email protected])