Agribusiness and the allied supply chains in developing and emerging economies are facing twin challenges: first, feeding their own populations and second, the integration of their supply chains with global food markets in light of the open international market regime. There is no denying that opportunities for agribusiness in developing and emerging countries are plenty in the global market, yet small and marginal farmers face enormous challenges in harnessing these opportunities. Agribusiness in these countries plays a critical role in the livelihoods and well-being of a large segment of the population, the growth of new and established organizations, and the economic vitality of their respective economies.
Agribusiness has opened up vast opportunities for value addition, packaging, retailing, supply of raw material, processed agri-food production, export of agricultural products and other allied fields with the use of high level technology and management. It may be noted that the progressive growth of the Indian economy is most likely to be dependent on the agribusiness sector. In India, for example, due to lack of proper infrastructure about one fourth of our fruits and vegetables is spoilt before reaching the consumer. The same is true for other developing economies such as Nepal, Bhutan,Bangladesh, Pakistan and Srilanka. These regions have also witnessed a paradigm shift in the nature of agribusiness in light of the emergence of new retailing formats, processing technologies and policy shifts. The farming systems in these areas are also diverse in terms of size and operations and the productivity patterns depend upon irrigation, resource availability, crop dynamics, pricing patterns and economic conditions of the farmers. These factors are further limited by climate change, crop varieties and skill and knowledge gaps of farmers in these countries.
The issues that are emerging relate to the need for change in both forward and backward linkages of agricultural system. What is needed is improvement in the existing marketing system that reduces cost by saving the post-harvest. Losses both on farm as well as losses in supply chain) chain, in technology led agricultural extension, development of cold chains and marketing infrastructure led by innovative agricultural enterprises thereby benefiting farmers, consumers as well as providing employment to the youth. Through these agribusiness activities, we have a very good potential of creating more lucrative and attractive jobs for youth in the agribusiness sector. However, the changes in agri-food systems have significant implications for growth, poverty and food security. On the other side, it is seen that agribusiness is responding to the strong consumer demand for high-value commodities, processed products and pre-prepared foods. There is in fact expansion of demand for farm products and also new opportunities for farmers in terms of value addition and agro-processing firms. One significant and thorny challenge is to achieve these goals without significant compromise to environmental, economic, social and cultural sustainability.
Keeping this background in mind, this conference aims to bring together scholars, practitioners, policymakers, and other stakeholders from around the world to present and share their original research and expertise on agribusiness in the developing and emerging economies. The conference will cover a broad spectrum of themes, methodologies, and research approaches including empirical, conceptual, review, and case studies. This conference aims to highlight the various issues pertaining to agriculture and agribusiness; a detailed discussion note will be made available for policy makers, academicians and researchers to overcome with good research oriented outcomes for betterment in the agriculture sector and subsequently in agribusiness.
Research Themes to be covered during Conference
An overwhelming response from both domestic and international participants in the conference points to the urgent need to deliberate these issues by members of organizations like ICAR, UN Global Compact, IFPRI, ICIMOD, AMUL, Australia’s Dept. of Foreign Affairs and Trade. These organizations have extended support to this conference in various ways. Key note speakers from Australia, UK, US, Nepal, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Bhutan and Pakistan have also agreed to participate and share their perspectives on agribusiness.
In addition, thematic sessions on contemporary agribusiness topics such as Climate Change and Agriculture, Food and Nutritional Security, Responsible agribusiness, Food Processing will be conducted in collaboration with International research organizations. There will also be two project workshops, “Eco Restoration and Livelihoods in Mining areas” and “Ensuring Nutritional Security in Hill Communities in Hindukush Area,” and a peer-mentoring workshop for young researchers.