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Opportunities to invest in agriculture continue to grow as showcased at premier Global AgInvesting conference (5.2.2012)
 
NEW YORK, N.Y, May 2, 2012 – For the nearly 700 attendees who converged at the Waldorf=Astoria here last week for the flagship Global AgInvestingSM conference, the message was clear that the range of opportunities for investing in agriculture continue to increase globally. Propelling this burgeoning growth are key drivers such as an expanding world population, a major shift in diets in developing markets from grains to animal proteins, and increasingly scarce natural resources, such as water.
 
This year’s Global AgInvesting conference offered attendees an expanded agenda that covered a wider range of vehicles and themes related to investing in agriculture, including water as an asset class, the application of enabling technologies to improve crop production yields, and ag biotechnology. Attendees, who numbered nearly triple the amount at the first conference four years ago, were comprised of ag investors, asset managers and various strategic investors from the corporate sector active in agriculture.
 
“The presentations (and presenters) were insightful and informative and I learned a great deal about how agriculture is connected to real estate, private equity, equities and hedge funds,” said attendee Robert Cliche of CAIA Association. “I left informed and invigorated about the marketplace, its participants and its exciting future.”
 
Opening remarks from Philippe de Lapérouse, event chair and managing director at HighQuest Partners, the private company that hosted the conference, spoke of the consistent four to five percent agricultural growth in recent years, noting that the total global agriculture market value is estimated at more than $6.4 trillion (including the food and beverage sector), which accounted for over 8.5 percent of the world’s economic activity in 2010.

 

“Agricultural commodities trade is forecast to exceed 520 million metric tons in the next 10 years due to rising demand in China, India, Southeast Asia and the Middle East,” said Lapérouse, who presented the fundamental drivers for growth in the agricultural sector at the launch of the conference.

While some remained skittish about investing in agriculture, many more were bullish, such as Global AgInvesting keynote speaker and internationally-renowned investment guru Jim Rogers, who holds steadfast to his prediction that investing in agriculture, especially in buying a farm directly, will yield enormous gains over the next two decades. 

“The Wall Street-types had better learn to drive a tractor so they can get a job working for the rich farmers,” said Rogers to a packed audience at the conference. “There are gigantic problems facing agriculture, and therefore huge opportunities.” The best way to reap returns is to own land and be a farmer, said Rogers, but if that’s not possible, he recommended other ways, such as buying a commodity index product or investing in currencies of agricultural nations, as options to entry into this still-emerging marketplace.
 
Some attendees were hesitant to believe this prediction, but all could not refute the presentation by Jud Hill, managing director of NGP Global Adaptation Partners, entitled How Scarce Water Resources will Reshape Agricultural Production. Speaking of water as a finite resource that has no alternative at any price, Hill addressed how the constrained availability of water will continue to put pressure on agricultural production as well as the allocation schemes practiced in regions with limited water resources.
 
“Agriculture is still the dominant consumer of water in the world, with 70 percent of fresh water demand being used for agriculture, and an 80 percent increase in fresh water demand expected by 2050,” said Hill. Hill pointed out that at the same time this increase occurs, the availability of water will decrease by 25 percent due to the depletion of renewable water resources and climate changes.
 
Other sessions at this flagship conference included responsible investing in agriculture, transportation and infrastructure, opportunities in investing in dairy and livestock production, and investing in African, South American and North American Farmland.
 
Attendees were also introduced to the revamped Global AgInvesting (www.globalaginvesting.com) website, which includes a first-in-the-industry comprehensive Research & Insight platform designed to meet investors needs for critical education and information in order to make qualified and decisive decisions as to how to allocate capital to the sector.
 
“Global AgInvesting is hands down THE event for anyone interested in agricultural sector investment opportunities,” said attendee Greg Duerksen of Kincannon & Reed. “No other conference comes close.” Added Dave Smardon of Bioenterprise Capital Ventures, “This is an excellent event. Notably the best networking event within the ag investment space anywhere.”
 
The Global AgInvesting conference series continues in Singapore, September 25-27; London, December 3-5; and Abu Dhabi in the first quarter of 2013. Hosted by HighQuest Partners, a leading strategy advisor and consulting firm providing services to the global investment, agriculture and biofuels industries, this premier agricultural investing conference series brings together more ag investors than any other conference in the world. Visit www.globalaginvesting.com for more information. 

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