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Agriculture 'still has a lot of opportunities' for investors

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Despite the low commodity prices currently facing agriculture, the need to produce more food in increasingly challenging circumstances means it is a sector which investors cannot afford to ignore.

So says John Giles, divisional director of consultancy specialist Promar International and chair of the UK's Institute of Agricultural Management, says that while the world is looking "slightly uncertain place at the moment", the challenge of feeding 9bn people within 25-20 years has not gone away.

"We knew years ago that the world population would grow to that level, but it became a very prominent statistic in 2007-08," Mr Giles tells Agrimoney.com

"And it interests me to know what people, not least in terms of investment projects, are doing about it."

'Huge issue'

It looks a big challenge anyway "to increase food production by 50% to feed that population," Mr Giles says.

"But we are also facing reduced water availability, and food waste, which is a huge issue."

To overcome the challenge of feeding 9bn people "will need investment in new technology.

"Alongside climate change and low commodity prices, it produces a very challenging environment."

Indeed, he highlights the extra hurdle provided to investors from the market conditions, saying that "volatility makes for a challenging time - but it also provides opportunities.

"It is essential to do thorough homework, and do it well, before investing - be particularly diligent."

'A lot of opportunities'

Mr Giles, who is chairing the first day of the Agrimoney Investment Forum on June 14-15 in London, says while anything can be achieved with time, money and effort, the world cannot wait for things to happen in agriculture.

"We have to make things happen ourselves.

"Agriculture still has a lot of opportunities. It is a cyclical business, but the options for carrying on as in the past are limited, so it is implied by default that farmers and agribusinesses have to change.

"Many of the issues are inter-related, but no-one has the answer to it all," he says.

"The complexity means it is essential to be informed of everything that is going on. That not least is a good reason to attend this conference."

More details on the Agrimoney Investment Forum can be found here.

By Emma Penny, group head of cont

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