Agribusiness is about how you ask the world to feed you. What you eat matters. Every day you send out many signals to someone, somewhere, to produce something for you to eat from good ol’ Mother Nature’s bounty.
Today, because of the demand you help create, “Agribusiness” is the world’s largest industry. Does it need an image make-over? It is 50% of all employment, involves 50% all assets, and produces 40% of the world’s consumer goods. The term “Agribusiness” can mean different things to different people, in different countries and cultures. To some, agribusiness just means farming, to others it is the business of feeding everyone on the planet 24/7.
Agribusiness is what sustains us all. Not just growing it, but getting it to you to consume. So, it includes, but is not limited farming – whether the poorest subsistence hunter or the most modern mechanized farming systems.
The best definition is: “Agribusiness refers to the whole constellation of activities and supporting institutions that are involved in the world’s complex food and fiber system” (Ray Goldberg, 1997).
Consistent with the complexity of the world’s food and fiber system (i.e. anything grown by Mother Nature), there also exists the whole spectrum of positive and negative images about agribusiness in the world today. Given the importance of food to sustaining us all, agribusiness is the most worthy profession of all, and the vast majority of those involved do engage with genuine intent, with sound business ethics and proper regard to attaining positive economic, social, and environmental returns.
So, the vast majority involved in agribusiness, must also work to fix problems created by the few that do damage its reputation (food poisoning, poor animal welfare, etc.). It follows, that good agribusiness is good for everyone, and bad agribusiness is bad for everyone. Bad business is no good for anyone… and we all eat. It is part of everyone’s culture, and has been since time immemorial.
All complexity considered, the good news is that the need for agribusiness to consider a makeover is tempered by the bad deeds of only a few. The bad news is, such is the massive size of global agribusiness, that a ‘few’ can include large multinational companies, single one-person operators, and a few in between. So, the “positive” image makeover task itself is also gargantuan. How to perpetually improve agribusiness to ‘pull out the weeds’, is the challenge.
So, starting with yourself; when you next eat; consider – how well do you understand your personal food supply chain?
Would you like an opportunity to engage with like-minded people drawing up a road map for a journey to work on positive, strategic future directions for the agribusiness sector? Got some ideas worth fueling the conversation? You’d be welcome to help grow solutions to this worthy cause at http://www.agriculture.org.au/group/MAP.