Marcos Fava Neves

From farms to...everything

Updated: 2011-01-13 13:49

By Marcos Fava Neves (

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The beginning of a new year is a season that makes us think in targets to be achieved. The most popular promises relate to start doing exercises, losing weight, stop smoking, drinking less, trying to work less, pay more attention to our family, improve our quality of life, and several other examples. By the end of January part of these 2011 targets were already abandoned.

So In this first article of 2011 I wish that you have strict discipline and controls to achieve your targets. My promise to you in 2011 is to produce 20 stories to be published for the China Daily community. Let's see at the end of the year if I reached the target.

Story number one is an interesting look to what is happening with our farms and farmers. From a traditional perspective of a farm producing food, technology and other advancements made farms a multiproduct and service supplier. I will point 13 industries (at least!!!) whose products come from farms and we even don’t know.

From Farm to Food and Beverages (1): this is the most known function of a farm, to produce food, including grains, fruits, eggs, vegetables, juices, milk, beef, fibers and others to an increasing and richer population demanding quantity, quality, procedures, conservation, environment, animal welfare and others.

From Farm to Feed (2): a traditional industry benefiting from farms, the huge supplier of food for the animal’s growth and development, involving nutrition of larger animals, for pets and others. Part of the money spent in pet shops goes to farms.

From Farm to Fuel (3): several countries started biofuels blending programs, which means fuel coming from the farm using corn, wheat, sugar beet, grasses, residues and sources like sugar cane, used for a long time. When someone fills up the tank in New York, part of the money (10%) flows to farms, since 10% of the fuel is corn ethanol added to gasoline.

From Farm to Pharma-Medicine (4): the growing segments called “nutra-ceuticals” which means food together with medicine. It involves taking something that has health benefits, like juice with calcium, lycopene, vitamins, proteins, omegas, and several other merged products.

From Farm to Pharma-Cosmetics (5): products from food/farms that have benefits in terms of beauty, skin, tanning, and other characteristics desired by consumers. A segment called “nutri-cosmetics”.

From Farm to Electricity (6): several farm products are used as a renewable source of electricity, burning those in boilers and generating heat that is transformed into electricity, sold to the network. This is the case of the bagasse of sugar cane and other green materials.

From Farm to Plastics (7): Plastic is a huge industry in the world. Several companies are planning to substitute plastic coming from oil to renewable plastic coming from green and farm materials. Coca recently launched its plant based bottle coming from cane.

From Farm to Environment (8): farms are being used in the battle against global warming, recovering forests, creeks surroundings, rivers, and even benefiting from participation at carbon credit markets. From Farm to Entertainment/tourism (9): in the last years we’ve seen enormous growth of farms usage for the purpose of tourism, either for weekend rest for urban families, festivals, educational purposes with kids in schools and other forms of urban people servicing from farms.

From Farm to Textiles and Clothing Industry (10): we must not forget that natural fibers used to produce textiles and clothes, the fashion industry, come from farmers, like cotton and others. Fibers also produce hats.

From Farm to Shoe and Leather Industry (11): leather comes from cattle and other animals, so comes from farms part of the shoe and leather industries.

From Farm to Construction and Furniture (12): wood nowadays comes (majority) from planted farms using pinus, eucalyptus, compensated woods and other sources. So our walls, roofs and furniture is supplied by farmers.

From Farm to Paper (13): another large industry and paper comes from processed farmed wood, producing a pulp that will be transformed in paper. So if we you writing now, think that farmers helped in the production of paper and your pencil. China Daily is… produced by farmers.

I raised here at least 13 industries whose products comes from farmers and consequently benefit from farmers existence. Surprising…

So the message for us is: let’s respect our farmers, let’s give more value to our farmers. They are much more present in our day to day urban lives then we can imagine. Have a nice 2011!

The author is professor of strategic planning and food chains at FEARP School of Economics and Business, University of Sao Paulo, Brazil ( and international speaker.


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