Thursday, June 18, 2015

Pre-Conference Workshop

Rapid Agrifood System Transformation, Globalization, and International Development

Saturday, July 25, 2015, 8:30 am - 6:30 pm
Full Agenda Available Online

Description of the Topic:

In 1999 there was an AAEA pre-conference on “Agro-industrialization, Globalization, and International Development;” that started a ball rolling of integrating agribusiness and development work among agricultural economists. The emphasis in 1999 was on the “midstream” of food supply chains, specifically on the rapid rise of large-scale agri-processing firms in developing countries especially Latin America, parts of Southeast Asia, and Eastern Europe, induced by the then relatively recent liberalization of trade and foreign direct investment (FDI) and the recent surge in incomes and the start of urbanization. Attendant on that theme were developments in the economics of institutional change, an “upstream” theme of agri-processing links with contract farming, and the theme of the emergence of private quality and safety standards required of suppliers by large processors. Intensification, diversification, and commercialization of agriculture was surging on the heels of the relatively recent (1970s/1980s) Green Revolution, public sector induced change in food systems (such as wholesale market investments) had been important over the several decades before the 1999 pre-conference.

As of 1999, however, very little to no work had been done by agricultural economics on a number of themes but a body of research pertaining to agrifood system transformation in developing countries would rise to prominence over the 15 years since the 1999 pre-conference leading to our pre-conference in 2014 for a stocktaking of changes over the past several decades. The themes below were not really “gaps” in the 1999 preconference – rather, they were not much treated then because much of the change noted in the themes below was only emerging in the mid to late 1990s and “took off” in the 2000s. This rush of new themes and real world changes drew much more attention to our general theme, inducing research on these themes and deepening and extension of the work on the prior themes. The new themes include: (1) downstream segment transformation, the “supermarket revolution” in Asia, Africa, Latin America; (2) further midstream segment transformation, with a “Quiet Revolution” along value chains in Asia and Africa of small and medium enterprise activity in processing, logistics, wholesale, cold storage, with concomitant rise of processed food and fresh produce consumption; (3) upstream segment transformation, both of inputs as products (such as the rise of Monsanto and Syngenta’s activities in developing countries), and of inputs as services (such as the development of outsourcing services of combine harvesting teams in China); (4) cross-cutting themes linking transformation of agrifood markets with - rapidly increasing urbanization, with nutritional challenges such as obesity, with institutional change in food quality, safety, and environmental sustainability, with rural nutrition, with labor and credit markets; (5) impacts of the transformation of agrifood systems cum globalization on the rural poor and on farm technology modernization; this theme has included work on “poverty traps” and on the issues of inclusion and exclusion of small farmers in transforming markets.

The Pre-Conference Workshop July 25, 2015 on agrifood system transformation, globalization, and international development, will take stock of the emergence of this new field in agricultural economics - research and new thinking on the five new themes and the deepening that has taken place on the earlier themes, and to assess the implications for policy and for agricultural economics research going forward.

Workshop Organizers: 

Thomas Reardon, Bart Minten, David Zilberman, and Jo Swinnen 

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