Resonance FM’s N@ked Short Club returned to the agriculture investment market last night to air an agri special where topics such as vertical integration, aquaculture, sustainable food production, biotechnology and ecological restoration investment were covered.
Agri Investor’s editor Louisa Burwood-Taylor joined the show’s host Dr Stu along with agriculture experts Paul McMahon, managing partner at SLM Partners, the agricultural fund management firm; Emma Cowan, founder of agribusiness consultancy Cardy-Brown and Torsten Boehler, managing director at investment bank Abacus Emerging Markets.
McMahon expressed excitement that sustainable farming practices and protecting the world’s soils were widely recognised by global bodies such as the United Nations and Agri Investor pointed to more than $1 billion of US pension fund commitments to agri-related funds in the past couple of weeks proving real demand for agri investments. Cowan expressed concern about farmland values in various parts of the world but later reminded listeners that agriculture is a very cyclical industry and while soybeans in Brazil and Argentina might not be popular today, they would perform well again.
Boehler turned listeners’ attentions to emerging market food production and the importance of food security and food safety in countries like China. And from this the conversation led on to the importance of vertical integration to help assure consumers about where their food was coming from. Vertically integrated businesses in China and Asia are growing quickly but developed market agribusinesses are moving in the opposite direction and some are failing, argued Cowan.
McMahon expressed concern that vertically integrated models from the developed world would be replicated in Asia and with them poor sustainability practices and Boehler introduced the importance of animal health, particularly in aquaculture.
Some debate broke out about consumer-friendly food production, the affordability of agtech and equipment for smaller farmers and the growth in demand for organic food across both emerging and developed markets.