Keynote lunch talk to investors at the Bank of America's Agricultural Day

Agriculture in Asia


Speaking before a group of 60 investors at the Bank of Amercia's Agricultural Day, Chandran Nair focused his talk on the sustainability imperative of agriculture in Asia. With Asia's population estimated to peak around 5 billion by the year 2050, Nair stressed that this will create challenges that can only be described as "we simply do not know."

Yet, Nair remarked that this challenge of feeding so many mouths will require managing several converging and conflicting issues, all of which are in themselves multidimensional and getting more acute with no clear solutions in sight.

The main issues involve:

• Reducing the eco-footprint of the green revolution methods of the last 30 years which are chemically and energy intensive

• Dealing with the resource contraint issues and in particular that of water and land, covering degradation, pollution and depletion

• The ethical and ecological risks of large scale deployment of technological solutions such as GMOs etc

• Poverty alleviation and especially of the rural farming classes as it is becoming clear that urbanization and manufacturing (to create jobs) is not the panacea

• Climate change both from the point of view of agriculture being a major contributor and also being one of the sectors most likely to be adversely affected if worse case scenarios are to play out

• Diversion of food for fuel, land for cash crops or grain for meat production