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A lesson from the agriculture industry

By Richard Ferguson

FoodBev.com – 12.07.2010

Richard talks about two of the most essential ingredients that are missing from many organizations…

The OECD and UN Food and Agriculture Organisation have released the latest agricultural outlook covering the period to 2019. The outlook examines the prospects for agricultural markets in key commodity sectors across the world, using established models developed by the OECD and FAO. The report provides an assessment of likely changes in consumption, demand, production and prices in developed and developing countries as well as prospects for trade.

This year’s report also provides an analysis of price volatility and measures that may reduce its impacts on producers and consumers.

Now if there’s one thing that upsets me more than most, it’s the disconnection between the reality of food production and the perceptions of the vast majority of the food-buying public.

This is a PR campaign that the likes of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Saint Jamie of Oliver have taken to heart, and I applaud and appreciate their efforts. However, given the challenges laid out above and the huge changes experienced in the industry over the last 10 years or so, farmers are at the forefront of innovation, diversification and reinvention in order to survive.

You might argue that you would have to go far to find a more unlikely industry for innovation given the solid, dependable, old-fashioned labels that many might associate with farming. Yet, thousands of farmers up and down the UK have thrown off the shackles of convention and innovated in ways that would have R&D functions in major FMCG companies looking to their laurels.

It has been said that necessity is the mother of invention, and for many farming communities this has been the case, seizing the initiative and creating new ways of adding value and delivering services to us the consumer. This has taken two essential ingredients that I believe are missing from so many organizations today:

Passion – a group of people doing what they love and feeling pride in what they produce. How much passion abounds in your organization at this moment?
Visionary leadership – innovation and reinvention means a journey into the unknown and this requires a clear and compelling vision of what the future will hold, coupled with the confidence required to engage people around you and stick to the plan when things get tough.
These ingredients are fundamental to the success of most organizations regardless of whether they’re looking to reinvent themselves or just grow bigger and stronger.

What are you doing to instil passion in your organization and what are you doing to build confidence in securing the future?