BRIAN CHABOT: Per Pinstrup-Andersen. And Per has had such a distinguished career at Cornell and at other places that it would require most of his speaking time to introduce him properly. But I will not do that. And consequently, I'll have to leave out quite a bit.
Per's first interaction at Cornell was as a faculty member in the Division of Nutritional Sciences where he was brought to Cornell to start a nutrition policy program, which he did very successfully. And it's a program that continues today. He was then recruited back to Washington where he had spent some time in various policy activities to be Director General of the International Food Policy Research Institute. And he turned that into the world's leading think tank on issues of hunger.
And part of that was to develop what was, I think, called the Vision 2020 Project, which was an exceedingly ambitious research and education effort to address hunger and food security issues around the world. When he ended his tenure post as Director General, the Babcock Chair at Cornell opened. And we went directly back to him to encourage him to join us again as the HE Babcock Professor of-- I need to get this right-- food nutrition and public policy.
And this was at a time when some of us retire. So he then went on another significant period of addition to his career, where he worked with students and faculty at Cornell to advance his interest in hunger and global food security issues. In the meantime, he wrote a book on ethics, hunger, and globalization, which introduced the ethical dimension into the food policy discussions. And along the way, he also, by the way, won the 2001 World Food Prize for all of his collective efforts.
He is now retired, happily so. But still active in a number of ways. And his passion throughout his career has been for the topic of his seminar. With that, I will turn the podium over to Per.
PER PINSTRUP-ANDERSEN: Thank you. Thank you very much for your kind words. It's wonderful to have an opportunity to talk about a topic that has occupied most of my professional career. And a topic that has led to a great deal of debate, in some cases, heated debate since the world food prices increased in 2007 and 2008.
But I wanted to add, before I start on what you want me to talk about, I want to stress that Cornell has been really good to me. There have been a number of people here who believed in me, particularly [? Mel ?] [INAUDIBLE]. He believed in me when I was a kid. And it's really because of [? Mel ?] that I ended up having my career at Cornell University. So thank you, [? Mel ?], for believing in me. I hope I haven't let you down.
So here is the situation. We are running out of food. Supermarkets are empty, as shown in this particular slide. That, of course, is not true. But that was part of the debate in 2008 when the food prices doubled or tripled. At least the grain prices did in the international market. There was a great deal of debate that that was the end of the world as we knew it. And from now on, food was going to be extremely scarce, prices were going to be extremely high. A lot of people jumped on the opportunity by selling books.
The Common Famine is one of them that's written by a good friend of mine from Australia. I reviewed the manuscript and I said, please don't publish that book. It is wrong. At which point the publisher said, I think we can sell that book, and we're going to publish it. I don't know whether it made him rich or not, but it was clearly wrong.
The farmers fortunately didn't read the book. So they continued to increase production on the basis of the higher food prices. World production of cereals went up by about 23% during this 10-year period I'm showing here from 2005 to 2015. That was much more than people could afford to eat so, therefore, the stock increased dramatically as well by about 30%.
And if you look at the yellow line, that shows that the Chinese cereal stock, grain stock, during that 10-year period went up by 70%. And the Indian grain stock went up by 80%. There was a dramatic accumulation of cereals during the period of time when we were supposed to be running out of food.
I have a few slides to show what these stock levels looked like, because I can't really imagine what a whole bunch of millions of tons of grain, what that really means. In the case of Thailand, the Thai government increased the prices to farmers by a tiny amount as part of an election campaign. The farmers responded. The government had to buy the rice, because the price was above the market, the free market rate. So they ended up with a lot of rice, and here it is, a little bit of it.
India dramatically increased its stock of cereals, as I showed just a minute ago, up to 80 million tons of grain. I have no idea what that looks like. So I put it all on cars, on train cars, and I can't remember what I found. But it was something like going back and forth from New York to Los Angeles about 13 times with these things full of grain. It's an immense amount of grain. About half of it was under a roof. The other half was like this. It was, of course, rotting very, very, very, very quickly.
India is now down to about 50 million tons of grain in stock, partly because of its rotting, and it just disappears, and the rats eat it, and so on. And partly because they're actually exporting some of the grain that's of high enough quality. We're talking about rice and wheat, both.
The case of Zambia, the Zambian government increased slightly the price of maize, of corn. They had a fertilizer subsidy as well, and farmers responded dramatically. And the government, of course, had to buy up the grain, because the price was above the market price. So again, you had huge, huge stocks.
This is where the grain went when it had rotted. It was way out in nowhere. Hopefully nobody would see it. Well there was somebody there with a camera, a friend of mine. I did not personally go. All of this damage is not useful for livestock feed or human feed. That's what it looks like up close. There was a dramatic loss of grain, simply because of overproduction relative to what the demand was.
So during the last three years, this is up to June of this year, but prices have actually dropped a little more since then. Corn prices or maize prices dropped by about 50% during that three-year period, wheat prices by 25%. You can see the numbers for the rest. A dramatic drop in cereal prices during the last three years. Which, of course, has huge negative effects on those farmers that are confronted with the free market prices. And great benefits, presumably, to consumers.
But remember what we started out with. We started out saying, this is the end of low food prices. From now on, we're all going to be, if not starving, at least we're going to be short on food. That just didn't happen.
Let me show you just a few slides about how the individual grain prices fluctuated. This is the maize monthly price during that 10-year period. You can see there's quite a bit of fluctuations. And towards the end on your right-hand side of the graph, you see this dramatic decrease of about 50%.
This is if you take kind of the long-term view of maize prices or corn prices back from the early 1900s up until today, you see a continuation of the decrease. Now these are real prices. They're deflated prices. But it doesn't look like we are off that trend, in spite of all of the fluctuations that we've seen during that period of time.
Of course, the main fluctuation or the main increase really took place right around here, and then again in about '70, '73, '74. And this is what we're worrying about. This little thing here was what made everybody write books about the end of the world as we understand it. So somehow we got the magnitudes a bit wrong.
This shows the wheat prices, the fluctuations. Again, you see dramatic fluctuations over time and a very rapid decrease during the last three to four years.
Rice prices behave a little differently. They went up, and went up quite dramatically during this period, '07, '08. They about tripled. They were down to about $300 and some per ton up until the beginning of 2007. And up here, they were actually a little above during a couple of weeks. Those happen to be the two weeks that the Philippines was importing a tremendous amount of rice from Thailand, because they were told the prices were going to continue to go up.
So you can see how the distribution of benefits [INAUDIBLE] from these kinds of price fluctuations are very, very important to understand. The Philippines lost out dramatically. They are a traditional importer of rice in spite of what Randy Barker has been doing. Where are you, Randy, so I can pick on you?
And Thailand, of course, kept the market open as opposed to India, and Cambodia, and Egypt, and a few other exporters, who more or less closed the market. That's what drove up the price. And Thailand and the United States said, no, no, no. We're not going to do that. We're going to be nice. Well they were doing really well by doing good, because they made a tremendous amount of money exporting rice at these very high prices.
Now when the rice price was here, there was more rice in the world than we'd ever had before. So it wasn't as though we were running out of rice. It was what I mentioned before, it was a trade policy. And there was a number of other policy interventions that pushed up the price.
Some bright person decided that we should ask Japan to release rice that they were forced to import from the United States as part of the World Trade Organization. Japan has a very restricted rice trade to protect their own farmers. And since they were a member of the WTO, they were, as part of the negotiations, forced to import a bunch of rice from the United States, which they concluded the Japanese consumers wouldn't eat. Whether that conclusion is correct or not, I don't know. Probably Randy has more information than that.
But the fact was that all of that rice was sitting in warehouses in Japan. The Japanese government wanted to release it as food aid. And that was not acceptable, I believe, to the US government or to other members of the WTO. So it's just sitting here.
Some bright person got the idea, why don't we just release that? That would bring down the price. And they had some negotiation with the US government and others. And finally, a decision was made that that rice could be released. 10 minutes after that decision was communicated, the rice price dropped.
The rice was never released. I know that. I talked to the person responsible for this. The rice was never released. This was all speculation and policies.
This is the number of pounds of food that we are wasting every year. We could feed another 2-3 billion people with that food, at least theoretically, if, in fact, we could cut the food losses and food wastes to nothing. It's a huge amount of food that's wasted. In high-income countries, in the retail and consumer part of the chain. And in developing countries, between harvest and the retail section. So it depends on which country you're looking at where the losses or the wastes take place.
But if you add it all up, it's about 1/3 of all the food that's being produced, aimed at human consumption. 1/3 is lost. Now I say, aimed at human consumption, because we do not consider feed of animals to be a loss. If you did that, of course, it would be much more than 1/3. So what was aimed at human consumption, 1/3 of that never reached the stomachs of people.
A lot of stuff did reach the stomachs of people. So we got over-consumption as well. And this gives us some numbers for the prevalence of obesity. I'm not sure if these numbers are readable from where you're sitting. But if you look at the highest prevalence of obesity, Kuwait, about 43%, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and so on. The United States, about 1/3 of the population is obese. Another third is overweight, but not obese. And the last third has a normal weight.
The definition of overweight and obesity is based on body mass index, which is the relationship between height and weight. So if you look at the lowest prevalence, you see Bangladesh with 1%, Ethiopia with 1%, and so on. So there is a tremendous variation among countries. But it is affecting low-income people in developing countries.
This is not a rich country, rich person problem anymore. In the United States, it's primarily among low-income people. In many of the low-income, developing countries, it's either among the low-income people or the middle-income people. So it's a very serious health problem. It's also, if you like, it's a waste of food, because if we would just eat a little less, there would be more food available for those who don't have access.
All right. So that's on the supply side. There's an immense amount of food available out there right now. We also have El Nino, La Nina, and a few other things going on in climate, which could very quickly turn the warehouses into empty ones. So we shouldn't be complacent, but we should understand that right now there's an immense amount of food out there.
So what's going to happen in the future? Are we running out of food? This shows the population increase. Obviously as population increases, so does the need for food, and hopefully the ability to obtain that food as well.
But if you look at the period 2050 to 2100 and you look at the world as a whole, we're down to less than 0.25% increase. And by the time you reach the end of that period, the projections are that we will probably be down to basically no population increase. We will then be somewhere between 11 and 12.5 billion people according to the United Nations. Who knows for sure? But it's somewhere in that neighborhood. Right now, we are about 7.5 billion going towards about 9.5 by 2050.
So you can argue that there would still be a lot more people to be fed, and that is absolutely correct. Or you can argue the increase in population, the rate is slowing down, and we can see an end to the increase. It depends on whether you want to see the glass half full or half empty.
But probably more important as to whether we can feed future generations-- by we, I'm talking about the world-- is the dramatic change in income. As people move from low-income to middle-income, they want to eat more food, but they want to eat different kinds of food. They want to eat livestock products. They want to eat fruits and vegetables. And they want to move away from stable food commodities, such as cereals, and roots, and tubers.
This shows where most of the middle-class people are going to be in 2020 and 2030, namely in Asia. If you look at between 2009 and 2020, dramatic increase in the number of people who are moving up from being poor to being middle-class. They are the people who are going to put pressure on our food [INAUDIBLE]. So by 2020, more than half of the world's middle-class population will be in Asia. And by 2030, about 2/3 of the people. That amounts to about 3.2 billion people who are moving into the middle-class. That's where the pressure is going to come from.
Another slide shows basically the same kind of thing. It shows the purchasing power in billions of dollars converted to 2005 purchasing parity. We see a dramatic increase in purchasing power in the Asian middle-class. And again, about 60% of the world's purchasing power of the middle-class is going to be found in Asia. So that's what we have to keep an eye on.
What is that they want? I already mentioned that. That's what they want. They want livestock products, which is shown by red color. And they want oils and fats. They want fruits and vegetables as well, which I'm not showing here. But that also. And then they want to consume less roots and tubers, and less cereals.
That dietary change is fine if it doesn't go too far. But if it goes too far, we end up with chronic diseases caused by overweight obesity and the poor diet. So there's a balancing act here, because many of the people who are currently in the group of poor people are suffering from micronutrient deficiencies. And by moving up to the middle-class and changing their diet, they can get rid of much, if not all, of that micronutrient deficiency. I'll come back to that in just a couple of slides.
So here's the real problem. Here's the real problem. 800 million people don't get enough to eat. That's what we call [INAUDIBLE] protein deficiency. You call it hunger. You call it whatever you want to call it. So that's about 800 million we think. These numbers are subject to great error. It could be 700 or 900. But who cares? It's a tremendous amount, a very large number of people, in spite of all the food that we have.
Hidden hunger refers to micronutrient deficiencies. Sometimes you can't tell, because all the kids in the village suffer from deficiency, say of vitamin A or zinc or iron. And therefore, they all look fine. About two billion out of the 7.5 billion people that we are today, about two billion suffer from one or more micronutrient deficiencies, including a large number of women and children in high-income countries including ours.
Iron deficiency is widespread. Where it's severe, it causes anemia, which, of course, causes people to be tired with low productivity, less resistant to other illnesses. Vitamin A deficiency causes night blindness and death. Zinc deficiency has a number of negative consequences. And so on.
And then you've got the third burden, namely overweight and obesity. And I have already showed you some slides, some statistics for that.
So here's what we really need. We need a healthy diet. No, that doesn't assure good nutrition. But it certainly helps. To have good nutrition, you have to have a healthy diet. And then you have to have clean drinking water. You have to have care. And you have to have good sanitation and hygiene. And then maybe a few other things that [? Mel ?] can add to that, because he's an expert on the subject.
But the point I'm trying to make here is if we don't have a healthy diet, there isn't much of a chance that we will have good nutrition. But there has to be access. And that's what food security means. Food security doesn't mean production, and big supply, and warehouses full. That's not food security. Food security is access. Can I get access to the food I need to have a healthy diet? But of course, if the food is not available, then you cannot have access.
Whether you have access depends very much on your purchasing power, your acquisition power, your ability to actually buy that food or produce it yourself. And then as I mentioned before, access to a healthy diet is necessary but not sufficient for good nutrition. First of all, how is that food allocated within the household? Does little Johnny get what he needs, or is somebody else in the household taking a bigger than the fair share? In fact, there are many, many households that have obese parents and undernourished children. So the distribution within the household is very important.
I mentioned water, sanitation, and care. And of course, behavior. The household may have access to food but may choose to spend their acquisition power or money on something else.
The Sustainable Development Goals, which were just agreed upon in New York a few months ago, will take effect at the end of this year, the end of this month. That's a replacement for the Millennium Development Goals, which run from 1990 to 2015. I'll talk a little more about that in a minute.
The Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals have, as one of the goals-- they have 18 goals and 169 targets, which probably means that everything is in there. That's unfortunate. They didn't set priorities. But so be it. That's politics, I suppose. If you have to have an agreement, everybody has to have a piece in there. That's unfortunate.
As far as nutrition is concerned, the goal calls for ending all malnutrition by 2030. We've got 15 years to get rid of all of the problems that I've just been talking about. Can that be done? Maybe. Will it be done? Absolutely not. But nevertheless, we have a goal and hopefully the world can all move towards that goal.
This shows the hunger trends for developing regions from 1990, which is when the Millennium Development Goals began until 2015, this year, when they end. And I mentioned there were various goals. But there was a goal called the World Food Summit Goal, which was a goal set in 1996 to reduce, by half, the number of people who are malnourished, actually undernourished. They didn't pay attention to overweight and obesity. Deficient in dietary energy and nutrients.
So if the goal were to be achieved, we would have followed this line. We didn't. We followed this curve. So around 800 million that I mentioned before. So in year 2000 in the Millennium Summit, they eased that goal a bit and they said, look let's just see if we can reduce the proportion of the population at any given point in time by half. The proportion of population that's undernourished by half.
That's a lot easier to achieve, of course, because as population rate are positive, population goes up, you don't have to bring as many people out of the malnutrition as if you're talking about the absolute number. In fact, there are a couple of African countries that achieved this goal, the Millennium Development Goal, reducing by half the proportion, simply by having a very large population growth rate. You can do that. It's a ratio.
So you don't really have to reduce the number of malnourished people. As long as you get a rapid increase in total population, you can achieve that goal. That's a bit of a facetious argument. But nevertheless, it's something we have to keep in mind.
So the world came pretty close to achieving the Milennium Development Goal from about 23.4% at the beginning to about 13.5% or so at the end. So that's pretty close.
The problem is that almost all of that happened in China. The number of people who escaped under-nutrition dropped by 210 million during that period. But 3/4 of that occurred in China. So the rest of the world-- I guess China is a big country, but nevertheless it doesn't have 3/4 of the world's population-- so the rest of the world only reduced the number of hungry or undernourished people by 55 million.
So if you really want to show how wonderful things have been and how much we have achieved, you forget about China. You just look at 210 and say, that looks pretty good. But we can't do this. China is run by one government. That government decided to put a priority on reducing poverty and hunger, and they were extremely successful. Imagine if the other countries had done that as well.
Imagine if Africa had done that. It's the same set of trends for Africa. And it's increased by 182 million to about 227 or so. These numbers are associated with large error. So we don't know for sure how close they are to reality. But what we do know is there's an increase. And of course, they did not achieve the Milennium Development Goal either.
All right. So much for food security. So much for household food security. So much for nutrition. So much for how much food is really available.
But what do we really want from the food system and the agricultural system? We want good nutrition. We want food security for everybody. We want everybody to have access to food. And if that were it, it would be much easier to achieve, but of course not. There are many, many other things we want from the food and agriculture system.
We want efficient and sustainable resources. We don't want to use up our natural resources in the process of meeting nutrition needs, because future generations, of course, won't have the resources that they need. We want reasonable incomes for farmers. We want reasonable prices for consumers.
We will be arguing about what reasonable means, because what's reasonable for one may be totally unreasonable for somebody else. And then we have non-food demands. We have biofuel. We have cotton. We have a number of things that we expect the agricultural and food system to produce. And that requires resources.
Every time we put ethanol into our tanks in our cars, we have taken resources away from the production of food. At least until we get to the second generation biofuel where we can use things that may not compete directly for the resources for food. And then, of course, agricultural development and food system development supports general economic growth, particularly in low-income, developing countries.
So the question is, how do we balance all of these demands on the food and agricultural system in such a way that everybody can become well-fed and healthy without taking away the opportunities for future generations to do the same thing? The COP21 21 discussions in Paris, of course, deals with those things. And it does pay quite a bit of attention to food and agriculture.
So what are the supply challenges? We're doing really well right now. Lots of food, everything is beautiful. Farmers are not making as much money as they would like, but consumers are benefiting.
What are the supply challenges? First of all, Paris, climate change. Climate change, in terms of extreme weather events. We have huge floods in parts of India around Chennai right now. The last information I had was that the rains during a very short period of time added up to something like half a meter of water, an incredible amount of water that fell in virtually no time. We had drought in California, and a number of other places.
These extreme weather events cause dramatic risks and uncertainty for everybody. For the economy as a whole, for farmers, for consumers, for anybody who is, in some way, involved. And since we all have to eat, that means basically everybody.
That, to me, is the key food and agriculture issue related to climate change. But there is, of course, the second one, namely increasing temperature, which will increase the sea level, which would do immense harm to coastal areas. And increasing temperature has a number of other potential adverse and positive effects. Nobody talks about the positive effects. We talk about the adverse effects, because we have to deal with the risks and uncertainty.
One of the risks and uncertainty has to do with new plant diseases, new insects, and what we refer to as biotic or abiotic stresses. And I'll come back to that. We need research to deal with those new stresses. We need salt-tolerant crop varieties. We need crop varieties that can deal with at least some degree of flooding. We need crop varieties and animals that can deal with the new diseases and the new pests.
Another challenge is that as the population grows and the land area, as a whole, of course, doesn't grow. But the agriculturally cultivated land area grows relatively little. It's still increasing, but not at a very rapid rate. So that means that the per capita land resources are decreased. And that is true for water as well.
Unsustainable management of natural resources. We are pumping water. We are lowering the ground water level. We are doing damage to the surface water. We are polluting the air, and we are doing a number of other very, very nice things to the land.
And then on top of everything, we have an anti-science sentiment. But if we are to solve these problems, we've got to have the right kind of science and the right kind of policies. And the right kind of behavior of all the actors involved. And if we're going to cut out science, we have just self-inflicted some serious problems for ourselves.
So here are three sets of priorities that I suggest that we do. Priority number one-- the big constraint to increasing food security and food production in low-income, developing countries and most of Africa is lack of infrastructure. We have surplus production in one area, and 30 miles away, you have a deficit. Food is rotting here and kids are dying there. We don't have the rural infrastructure. We don't have the roads. We don't have the irrigation facilities. We don't have the communications facilities. We don't have the electricity.
Those investments that we take for granted, certainly in the United States and Europe, are missing in so many low-income countries. If I had Donald Trump's money, I would spend it all on building African rural infrastructure. Project after project has shown that if farmers can get out of that straight jacket caused by lack of infrastructure, they can double or triple their production with the existing technology.
Yet we keep arguing for more technology for small farmers. But they can't use it. They're in a straight jacket. They have to pay five times more for fertilizers than we do in Europe and the United States when it's not subsidized. They can't sell what they produce. They can't buy what they need for the family. The infrastructure just doesn't work.
Is that true in all African locations? No, of course not. But it's true. And if you have to look at the continent as a whole, that is the most serious constraint to dealing with food insecurity.
We need appropriate institutions, farmer associations, public sector institutions of various kinds. Law and order. We take it for granted. We need measurements. We need agreed upon-- what we mean by a pile of cassava. What does that mean? Does that mean 10 pounds or 10 kgs? Or what does it mean? We need contract enforcement.
A number of things like that that are missing in so many locations. We need market information. We need every farmer to have a cell phone and access to the radio. There, we are making a lot of progress. We still have a long way to go.
But of course, market information is of no use if you can't reach the market. And there are so many farmers that if they want to sell a bag of corn or maize, they have to carry it on their head for 10, 20 kilometers in order to sell it. You're not enticed to produce a lot of stuff for sale if you have to do that. Of course, you have to pick up things for your own household as well, because you can't be self-sufficient in everything.
Water management infrastructure. Water is being used extremely inefficiently in agricultural production in most developing countries, because it tends to be free. So it's being overused. So when people say, we're running out of water. Yes, that is probably true. Running out of water relative to the increasing demand. But it is also true that we could use that water much more efficiently than we're doing right now.
At some point, maybe not in my lifetime, probably not in my lifetime, desalination is going to be economically viable. But it isn't right now except in a few coastal areas, and with heavy subsidies for agriculture. It is being used in a number of areas for urban use, but not so much for agriculture.
When I go to a hotel and there's a little bottle of water and it cost me $5, I'm perplexed, because I just poured gasoline for about 1/3 of that price. There's something really wrong with the way we allocate our water and the way we use it.
We can do all of these things on the supply side. We can get beautiful agriculture that's sustainable, et cetera, et cetera. But if people don't have purchasing power and they don't have resources to produce their own land, then, of course, they will still be food insecure. That is, of course, what we're seeing. Huge piles of food and a large number of undernourished people.
We need employment. We need employment badly. And of course, we need primary education, health care, and improved sanitation to make this healthy diet. A good nutrition diet by adding these non-food items.
Priority are number two-- we need to use science to solve these new problems that climate change is bringing about. We also need science to solve the problems that climate change didn't bring about, but we haven't solved them yet. So we need massive investments in science. And it almost makes me cry to know that the CGIAR, the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research, is currently involved in dramatic decreases in funding of that work. That is exactly the wrong thing to do at this particular time.
I already mentioned low user efficiency in water management. We need to enhance the user efficiency in water. We need to increase land productivity and make sure it's sustainable. And we need to reduce the production costs. That comes back to what I was talking about before about the risks and the uncertainty as well. The biotic and abiotic stresses that I mentioned. We need drought tolerance. We need resistance to insects and diseases. We need salt-tolerance.
Ag researchers know what's needed. But if we don't give them the money to do the research, of course, they can't deliver the results.
We need sustainable production methods. And one thing which the ag researchers have not bought into yet in most cases is, we need more nutrients per hectare. Not just more calories. And when I bring this up with my friends in agricultural research, they say, we have enough problems without you coming around telling us there's one other thing we need to do.
But that is really where we ought to be going. We need nutrients. We're getting loads of calories. We eat too many calories. There's too much out there in terms of empty calories. Now this is not just for ag research. This is for the private sector. And I'm coming to that in the next slide, but let me mention it right now.
Agriculture is very quickly becoming the producer of raw material for the food processing industry. And when the food processing industry gets hold of those raw materials, they convert them into something that they can make money from. Nothing wrong with that. That's the system. That's what they should do.
Problem is that they can make a lot more from empty calories-- lots of sugar and sweetener, high fructose corn syrup, fat, all of the things that we really don't need very much of. So the processing industry, food processing industry, is contributing to the overweight, obesity, and micronutrient deficiency problem. Can you blame the industry for trying to maximize its profits? No. You can't. That's the way it works.
So you blame the consumers for not demanding the nutritious food. Or you can blame books. But that interaction between the food processing industry and the consumer is something we need to do a lot more work on. We need to understand how to change that.
And my worst case, let's say my worst nightmare, is that we are moving towards a world population that is deficient in micronutrient and overweight. Now you think that's hypothetical. That is, in fact, what's happening right now. But we are moving more and more in that direction.
We need to adapt to climate change. I hope something is going to come out of the COP21 in Paris. But it's probably going to be very limited, because to get agreement, these kinds of things have to be watered down, no pun intended, have to be watered down to a level where they may not have a whole lot of effect. So we need to adapt to climate change. Climate change is with us. It is going to continue. We may be able to slow it down a bit, but we need to adapt. And for that, we need science. We need better policies, as I have already mentioned.
I'm almost done. This is my third priority area. If we are to have sustainable solutions to the food security and nutrition problems and achieve these other goals that I mentioned for food and agriculture systems, the private sector has to do it. Yeah. We can have publicly-funded programs. We can have food supplementation schemes. We can have social protection schemes. We can have all kinds of publicly-funded programs. But they are, at best, holding action until such time that the economy will pick up and solve these problems. And that's why the private sector is so extremely important.
And I already talked about a negative side of what the private sector is doing, namely the food processing part. But we need to work with the private sector in order to solve these problems in a sustainable way. Farmers need access to savings institutions and credit institutions. They need risk management tools. I have already referred to the high risks associated with climate change and other market risks as well.
We need public goods investments. The private sector can't do everything. But here's the thing. There was a period when I worked in Washington where the US government was saying, let's get the private sector off our back. Sorry, let's get the public sector-- no they don't say that-- let's get the public sector off our back and let the private sector do its job. It fail. Why?
Because for the private sector to make money, there has to be some public goods available. You have to have some of those things that I mentioned before-- the infrastructure, the weights and measures, the contract enforcement, all of these things that we take for granted in the United States and Europe. The government has to put these things, these public goods, in place. Then the private sector can operate. So it's not one or the other. It's the sequence. So we need this public goods investment.
We need to strengthen the purchasing power of small holders. No, it is too early to argue that small holders are a thing of the past, particularly in low-income countries, most of which most of the African countries fall into that category. For a long time to come, we need to focus on small holder agriculture in low-income countries. Maybe 50 years from now or some large, future period of time, these small holders will merge and become large units, and so on. But that's premature in most of those countries. So we need to work with small holders, make sure they can get inputs at reasonable prices that they have access to the markets, that they can buy the things they can't produce themselves.
Now. So I've been talking about science. And we need science for alleviating hunger, malnutrition, and poverty. But what if the science is done by the private sector and poor people can't afford to buy it? One idea that has been tested, at least in part, is that the public sector will put up a pile of money and clearly specify how you get that money.
If you can solve this problem, whatever that problem may be, as a private enterprise, you get the money. And then, of course, the results will be freely available to everybody. That's instead of patents, because once a private corporation takes a patent, they will, of course, ask the users to pay for it. So if this pile of, what is it I call it, competitive funds. If that is not workable, you've got two other options. Either the public sector pays for the research, makes the results available for free to the poor. That's what the Green Revolution did. There were no patents. They were freely available. Only the delivery costs had to be paid.
Or you can have that technology developed by the private sector, and then make sure the farmers can afford to buy the technology, either through credit or in some other way. Subsidies or however that's done.
We need to clarify land and water tenure systems. And we need to take a very close look at foreign direct investment in land in sub-Saharan Africa, particularly, but also other developing countries. This is what some people refer to as a land grabbing. International corporations, or international investment funds, or for that matter, government-supported entities will go into a low-income country, make an arrangement with the government to get control over an extension of land which can be several thousand hectares of land.
And then they will grow whatever they want to grow. They can grow [INAUDIBLE] trees, which produces a nut that can be converted to diesel. Or they can grow food. They can grow whatever they want. The government says, that's fine, because nobody lives in that area. So you can just move in there. They bring in the bulldozers and they find thousands and thousands of small holder farmers trying to make a living in that area. They are pushed off the land with no alternative income.
Is that happening in all of those cases? No, absolutely not. It's happening in enough cases that we need to really understand what's going on, because that is nothing but neo-colonialism, and we shouldn't permit that to happen. And before I get emotional on that, let me end. Thank you very much for your attention.
BRIAN CHABOT: Thank you, Per for a--
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Increasing food production is necessary but not sufficient for food security. To be food secure, households must have access to the quantity and kinds of food needed for a healthy and productive life. Very large stocks of food currently coexist with widespread food insecurity. Appropriate policies along with public and private investments are needed to enhance low-income people’s purchasing power or food production capacity.
Considering both the supply and demand sides, economist Per Pinstrup-Andersen discusses what it will take to achieve food security for all in the foreseeable future, Dec. 3, 2015 in a lecture to the Cornell Association of Professors Emeriti. Pinstrup-Andersen is the H. E. Babcock Professor of Food, Nutrition and Public Policy, the J. Thomas Clark Professor of Entrepreneurship, and Professor of Applied Economics at Cornell.