Plenary 9: Risk in agriculture

Chaired and Supported by Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture, Basel, Switzerland

Farmers are round-the-clock risk managers. Worldwide, they face a wide range of risks threatening their livelihoods and the food security of those whom they supply. This is particularly true for the estimated 450 million smallholders in developing countries. Major risks in agriculture include those associated with weather (e.g. drought, rainfall at the wrong time, and winds that carry pathogens), crop pests and diseases (throughout the growing cycle and after harvest), policy and governance issues (e.g. barrier tariffs, inappropriate subsidies, neglect of research and infrastructure, and the effects of warfare), environmental problems, crop losses, biodiversity losses and social changes in rural areas. Many of these risks remain ignored or unnoticed by large sections of the population, notably in OECD countries. Closely tied to the risks that farmers face are agricultural risks that threaten society. In many regions, food security is at best uncertain and transient. Where food is physically available, price increases may rapidly make it inaccessible to poorer families. As well as creating malnutrition and reducing human potential, inflation-induced food insecurity may lead to civil strife. Rather than allow agricultural risks to threaten food security, it is vital that farmers have access to the necessary tools, technologies and training to enable them to reduce these risks. In many cases, this would avoid the need for classic humanitarian responses such as food aid. This plenary session examines the nature and causes of selected risks associated with agriculture. Speakers will focus on environmental problems, pests, diseases and price volatility.


Marco FERRONI, Executive Director, Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture, Basel, Switzerland



André BATIONO, Senior Resource Mobilization Officer, Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa AGRA, Nairobi, Kenya

 Mike BUSHELL, Principal Scientific Advisor, Syngenta, Basel, Switzerland

John STAATZ, Professor Emeritus, Michigan State University, USA 

Marco FERRONI, Executive Director, Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture, Basel, Switzerland