August 08, 2017

09/08/2017: Christophe Palletier’s final column for Milling and Grain

by Christophe Palletier

This month will be my last column, it has been a great pleasure and an honour to have the opportunity to write this monthly column for you
Christophe Palletier

“So many projects, so little time” is the best way to describe why I am taking a bow. The future of food and agriculture has become a mainstream topic nowadays.

I wish to go beyond all the current thinking and bring something new to the conversation, just like I did when I started my Food Futurist blog. But then, my being not satisfied by the narrative about feeding nine billion people by 2050 was the motivation to get in the arena.

The result has been very exciting. In particular, meeting, talking to and with many people from many different backgrounds in many places, and contributing to help my audiences envision the possibilities have been among the greatest joys of my professional career.

The two books I published in 2010 and 2012 on the topic have brought me great pride, especially when I see how many of my predictions have come true, and how my reflections on the subject are also still very relevant today.

It is time to go one step beyond. I still am not satisfied about the current narrative and I will explore new ways to bring a message in three areas: vision, leadership and organisation, and responsible value marketing. But enough about me, and back to you.

If the challenges to feed a growing population are real and tough, the reality is that it can be done. It will not happen by accident and much change needs to take place in our attitude, both in terms of production systems as of consumption habits.

The wheels are in motion, but they need to gather more momentum than is the case today. That is where vision and leadership will play an essential role, not only to give directions but also on the speed of the process.

To succeed - enthusiasm, positivity, altruism, collaboration, pragmatism, open mind, curiosity and commitment will be essential. Most sectors of food and agriculture seems to think they have the mission –and the potential- to save the world and fix it all on their own. That is not the case.

Nobody can do it alone, but everybody can bring a significant and positive contribution to overcoming the challenges. Just like in team sports, it is quite important for all leaders to take the time to take a higher view around the field to see where all the other players are and to whom to pass the ball to build up the offensive and score the goals.

The potential is there. There is plenty of talent and there are plenty of players available to get on to the field. They just all need a game plan; they need to know who else is on the team, what their talents and skills are and how they complement their own. They also need a game plan and a solid strategy to concretise willingness into results.

In some way, we are all on the same team. We all can contribute to making food and agriculture better and secure food supplies for decades and centuries ahead. We all need to have a clear idea how to make that contribution.

There will be sacrifices to make but we must understand the bigger picture and adhere to it. We must also play a proactive role in shaping the process. As every society has the leaders is deserves, the world will have better leaders only if we raise the bar, set higher standards to them and demand that they play for the world team, as future food security and prosperity is a global exercise.

Like I wrote earlier, nobody can do it alone. Isolation and self-centeredness do not look like success strategies. The future must be actually written in the future tense. There is a tendency to write the present in the future tense and call it the future. It is not.

Doing this is actually more hoping on a linear evolution that does not challenge the status quo. We need something more powerful. Giving a fresh coat of paint on the past is not likely to be very helpful, either. Yes, the past and the present are important.

That is where we can learn from successes and failures. In that regard, the present and the past are essential to building the future, but at some point it is necessary to cut the ties and jump in the unknown. It is always scary and it brings resistance.

The solution is foresight and preparedness, which build confidence. I wish you all the best. I will still be around with a vision of the future, and to quote a machine powered by many of the new technologies that get us all excited lately: “I’ll be back!”

Visit Christophe's blog, The Food Futurist, HERE.

Read this article in Milling and Grain magazine, HERE.

The Global Miller
This blog is maintained by The Global Miller staff and is supported by the magazine Milling and Grain
which is published by Perendale Publishers Limited.

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