It’s seems to always be the case, when returning from a trip related to CFS, that real life jumps up and decides to add a flurry of complications, hence the delay in writing this post about my trip to Italy. With that said, I’m going to focus on the UNFAO aspect, as that was by far the highlight of the trip.
I can say without reservation that this was an amazing experience, being within the belly of the beast, the UNFAO, in attendance and in participation of the CFS (Committee on World Food Security) conference. But I do think they’re cheating and should be called CWFS. My involvement was with regards to a sub-committee called PSM, or the Private Sector Mechanism. This was developed to work in partnership with the CSM, Civil Society Mechanism.
For a while the UNFAO recognized and involved civil groups, NGO’s, Humanitarian groups, etc. into the discussion on how to combat world hunger, from policy debates to trade and more. Recently it occurred to them to more directly involve the private sector, so the PSM was established for that purpose. The levels of involvement are global and dynamic, from small farming operations in Nigeria to multinational agro companies like Mars Inc., who source over 80% of their raw product from small farming operations around the world. It was kind of surreal, me (a new agro tech startup) sitting next to the VP of Mars Inc. all discussing solutions and options to improve food security.
For the entire conference I was a sponge. You have two eyes, two ears and one mouth, and when in a new environment, it’s wise to be silent and observe. However, I wasn’t silent all the time. After all, I didn’t go there to just be a fly on the wall. From Food Waste and Loss debates to Food Safety and Quality meetings, I made it a point to remind everyone that New Agro is coming, we can do better, we can be cleaner, and the “old guard” should take advantage of what Agro2.0 can do.
It was rather disappointing that so many people didn’t know what Aquaponics was, and I’m glad I am now involved, because I also opened a few eyes to the potential, especially with regards to what CFS is working to provide. I also made it clear many times over that the investment in Agro2.0 needs to be ramped up, and to stop throwing money into old failed options. Fortunately I witnessed a lot of positive nods towards that line of thinking. All in due time. Patience is a much needed requirement for things at this level.
The take away from this was two fold, the fact that CFS is now part of a much higher level discussion, and that many contacts were made, some with potential funding options for CFS, and some whom we may be able to work with after CFS finishes Proto. All in all, it was definitely worth the effort, and I cannot thank our supporters enough for the financial help in making it happen.