Jim Rogers the legendary investor, financial whiz kid and author says, “If you want to become rich, become a farmer….We don’t require more bankers. What we need are more farmers”. With the exponential population growth expected to reach 10 billion by 2050 – not that far off – UN has questioned the “long-term viability of the human species itself”. Dire predictions by economists have been around for more than a decade now on the global food production and they have not been far off the mark as we see the future unfolding. Green will be New Gold as the future unfolds and the signs are everywhere.
Year on year we are seeing an increasing global population of the hungry. Most countries have woken up to the fact and started shoring up their food supply lines. The cash-rich Chinese and the Saudi Arabians are grabbing huge chunks of land in Africa, Brazil, Ukraine, Australia to name a few countries, to feed their burgeoning population in the future. Many of the countries in Africa and Asia which figure prominently in this list are already struggling with food shortages and starvation. They will be compromised further by the rich nations to protect their own population.
Food is going to be the biggest challenge and, also the Mega opportunity of the future. Individuals, businesses, countries and the entire world have to decide now, before it is too late, where the billion dollar investments are going to be. Not for their own countries, but for the world as a whole and for the very survival of the human species. In an increasingly connected world, the hungry will cause revolutions and there will be chaos through the world if the challenge of food is not met. No country can afford to ignore their neighbours while their own food bowls are filled. The world leaders have to decide whether they want to invest in the mindless proliferation of cities or develop the rural agricultural and sustainable living for the entire population of the world. The explosion of the mega cities the world over has to be stopped and population redistributed to take care of the shortages in rural agricultural employment.
As Jim Roger says, “The world has got a serious food problem. The only real way to solve it is to draw more people back to agriculture.”
So the future biz is not IT, Automobiles or Oil but Farming. Consigned to obscurity and neglect, now the farms and the farmers are coming into their own. Some of the leading investors, hedge funds, and finance professionals are now putting the money in their mouths literally. Food is the big buzzword in all the happening parties of the billionaires. To quote Jim Rogers again “Stock brokers will be driving taxis in the next few years. The farmers are going to be driving Lamborghinis.”
The trend is clearly visible. In the last count, there were 17 Fortune 500 companies (Revenues in excess of $ billion +) engaged in direct agribusiness and farming operations, not counting the global giants in food grain and agricultural commodities trading. Cargill is one such noteworthy International conglomerate and ranked 9th in the Fortune 500 list.
International Institute of Environment and Development estimates that more than 190 private equity funds were investing in agriculture and farmlands, and these investor breed is increasing every day as the gold rush for the green gathers momentum.
Let’s look at some interesting facts on how the farmers are going to be rich and farming to become the profession of choice if you want a wealthy lifestyle.
- The World population has increased from 2 billion 50 years ago to over 6.5 billion now with almost 1 billion of the population going hungry every day.
- Food Prices globally has doubled in the last decade as per the FAO Food Price Index. This is a global index and the increases may be much more depending on which part of the world you live in.
- The world population close to 7 billion currently and will touch 10 billion by 2050. An increase of almost 50% in the market size with a huge and increasing appetite for more food unless some miraculous product makes eating optional!
- Availability of arable land is falling rapidly due to urbanisation, soil erosion and desertification. There is no way cultivable land is going to increase unless we colonise Moon and Mars and find a way to grow food there in a controlled climate.
- Increasing chemical use is depleting the capacity of the earth to regenerate and the farm produce is decreasing year after year. Climate change, soil erosion and depletion of ground water will further add to the challenge.
- Global water shortage of the future is well documented and even the next world war is predicted to be water wars. So, people who control land, water and seeds will be very rich.
Interestingly Indians, Indian corporations and offshore entities owned by Indians are some of the biggest Farm Sector investors in the world having massive agricultural holdings in African, Asia-Pacific and Latin American countries like Uganda, Senegal, Ukraine, Australia, Argentina & Brazil.
Coming back to our own country, many of the educated have already started to take up full-time farming, quitting their 6 figure salaries. Just surf the net and you will see the happy stories of hundreds of people who quit high paying jobs realising the great promise farming holds in the future and for the quality and sustainability of lifestyles the farming sector provides. Farming comes with the perks of peace of mind, less stress and no deadlines day in and day out.
In Chennai, and around such as Kanchipuram, Chengalpet and Maduranthakam where the author lives, is itself dotted with hundreds of educated farmers. The Author has also met dozens of highly educated people who have taken to farming and leading happy lives and bringing a revolutionary change to the very methods of scientific organic farming around the community they live in.
So if you are one of those who are investment savvy and take the future in big strides, you know where your money should be headed.
This article was published in the July 2015 issue of KisanWorld