Australia’s advanced agriculture industry positioned for success

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 28th March 2018

Sunny Verghese, Co-founder and Group Chief Executive Officer, Olam International speaking at the Global Food Forum at Sydney's Westin Hotel sponsored by The Australian Newspaper. Picture: Adam Taylor

The leader of one of the world’s largest food companies, Sunny Verghese, has labelled Australia’s agriculture industry as the most advanced in the world, saying it is positioned for future success with food.

Speaking at The Australian’s Global Food Forum in Sydney yesterday, Verghese, founder and Chief Executive of Olam International, said he considers Australia the most innovative agricultural nation in the world partly because it has resisted the temptation to subsidies food production.

“The OECD markets, the OECD countries, today provide about $400 billion of farm subsidies, and when you have those kind of subsidies, there is really no incentive to get truly efficient,” Verghese said.

Awareness over environmental issues needed

Verghese further used his speech to say attention must be paid to the impact on the environment food production is having.

“We have about six biomes around the world,” Verghese said.

“And earth scientists have said that you cannot have – you must have at least 80 per cent of the biomes – of all the biomes in the world intact.

“And against that 80 per cent, we are 63 per cent and falling because we are converting more and more forests into arable land for cultivation of our food. One million square miles of forest is expected to be lost by 2020, as these forests get converted, particularly tropical hardwood forests, into agriculture for growing the food and growing demand in the food that we consume.”

Verghese further spoke about what Olam itself is doing to help address environmental issues, including launching Olam Inside.

“This year we introduced something called Olam Inside and all the products and services we deliver to customers, we brand it at source, which means when Nestle buys cocoa or coffee from us, they will get a full natural; footprint and social capital footprint.”