Meridian Institute publishes findings from Cargill Africa Learning Journey

Dec 01, 2015, 11:00 ET from Cargill

MINNEAPOLIS, Dec. 1, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- For its 150th anniversary, Cargill hosted events around the globe that ask big questions about how a changing world will feed itself in the years to come. Today, the Meridian Institute, a Washington D.C.-based facilitation and mediation organization that accompanied Cargill on its Africa Learning Journey in June, published a summary of findings that detail the complex state of food security in sub-Saharan Africa.

The Africa Learning Journey brought together 25 leaders from the private sector, academia, government and development agencies, agricultural producers, NGOs, media, and more. The group traveled to South Africa and Zambia, visiting farmers, processors, distributors and retailers to learn how food moves on the continent, and what challenges will need to be met as forces such as urban migration, rising incomes and climate change impact regional food security.

"Our group saw tremendous opportunity contrasted with struggles smallholder farmers face: risks from climate change, land tenure uncertainties, and limited access to credit and simple tools that would increase profitability. The Learning Journey highlighted the immense impact possible when trust is built, diverse expertise brought to bear, and common goals defined," said Meridian Senior Mediator and Program Manager Heather Lair, who authored the report and was in Africa with the group.

Some key findings from the report include:

  • The need for commercial-scale and smallholder agriculture to develop and exist side-by-side in southern Africa
  • The opportunity for increasingly integrated efforts among different organizations to develop stronger smallholder aggregation models and to help smallholders mitigate risks from factors such as climate variability, price shifts, financing, pest control and crop storage
  • The potential for data solutions to play a role in helping farmers at all scales to increase productivity and improve the sustainability of their operations

"As part of our 150th anniversary, we wanted to bring people together to create new dialogue and spark fresh thinking on how we will feed a world on its way to 9 billion by 2050, and Africa is a central part of that equation," said Emery Koenig, Cargill vice chairman and chief risk officer, and executive host of the trip. "We believe the discussions and learning of the group, as well as this report, will contribute to the conversation about complex food security topics in the region."

The full report is available on Meridian's website.

Additional information about the Africa Learning Journey, including stories, video and photos, can be found at:

Other food security-themed events sponsored by Cargill for its anniversary included a second Learning Journey to China in September; an October food security summit in Minneapolis led by the Economic Club of Minnesota that included panel discussions with senior food industry leaders; and Food Chain Reaction, a global food security simulation held in Washington D.C. in early November that brought together 65 real-world policymakers to stress test the food system in a hypothetical scenario set in the 2020s. Findings from Food Chain Reaction, which was co-sponsored by World Wildlife Fund, Center for American Progress and others, will be released in the coming months.

For information on Cargill and food security, visit:

About Cargill: Cargill provides food, agriculture, financial and industrial products and services to the world. Together with farmers, customers, governments and communities, we help people thrive by applying our insights and 150 years of experience. We have 155,000 employees in 68 countries who are committed to feeding the world in a responsible way, reducing environmental impact and improving the communities where we live and work. For more information, visit and our News Center.

About Meridian Institute: Meridian Institute is a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to help people solve problems, make informed decisions, and find solutions to some of society's most complex and controversial issues. Meridian's mission is accomplished through applying collaborative problem-solving approaches including facilitation, mediation, and other strategic consultation services. Meridian works at the local, national, and international levels and focuses on a wide range of issues related to natural resources and environment, science and technology, agriculture and food security, sustainability, global stability, and health. For more information, please visit


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