• Deb Doan

A true circular economy needs to be inclusive

I am always interested to read articles on the need to grow more food to feed our growing populations, and the big question of how to feed the future. It is predicted that by 2050 there will be 9 billion people living on earth. That is a lot of mouths to feed. As a result, there is an increasing feeling that the world is at a crossroad where they need to radically change the way it grows food. I don’t think it needs to be radical, I believe we just need to be INCLUSIVE.

In our work with smallholder farmers, we often hear from them that they can grow anything, so long as there is a market. Disconnected farmers who have significant potential to leverage their agriculture assets, remain disconnected because there is no market linkage.

I am also asked why there is a huge difference in the capacity and wealth of farmers in developed countries with those of developing nations. The lack of investment in farms, limited or non-existent agricultural support and extension services, and the lack of a profitable market are cited as key reasons.

Farmers have the capacity to treat their assets as investments, leveraging the ‘gold’ that comes from the soil, to develop them as a serious agribusiness. If they are connected to an external market.

We need more efficiency in our productive agriculture supply chains.

Efficiency on the farm gained from evidence and knowledge; to maximise production, reduce chemical inputs, minimise production and post harvest loss, and provide a fair income to farmers for their efforts. Efficiency in supply chains and production systems, that minimises product loss and maximises circular concepts of production efficiency that is restorative and regenerative by design.

Efficiency in waste management to ensure beneficial reuse of waste and by-product.

There have been great advances in technology that increase yield, crop resilience and returns for our agricultural commodities; improve farming systems and provide for better nutritional outcomes in our communities. If you are connected to an external market and therefore connected to opportunity to enjoy the benefits of such technology.

It is time to radically shift our thinking to improve our overall efficiency, not just to reduce inefficiency and loss in the entire production system, but to INCLUDE smallholder farmers in developing countries with technology and the market, so that they may also share the benefits of these efficiencies.

Circular economies are described as restorative, regenerative and holistic. In my view, this is also about connection. If we are truly committed to a holistic circular economy for a sustainable world, we must be fully INCLUSIVE and ensure that everyone can enjoy the benefits of development. Food for all. For our future.

A true circular economy INCLUDES  every farmer. A full and complete circle, with nobody left out.  If they are connected to an external market.