Feeding a growing world population seems impossible without major investment in global agriculture. But a symposium at the Green Week food fair has found that plans to curb hunger often clash with big business.
One of the most prominent participants in the panel discussion was Jürgen Fitschen, who, with Anshu Jain, is one of the two Chief Executives of Germany's Deutsche Bank. For Europe's biggest private bank, agricultural commodities are a growth market. Fitschen announced at the gathering that the bank's board had decided to resume trading in so-called Exchange Traded Index Funds (ETF) based on agricultural commodities, reversing a ban on food speculation imposed by the bank last year.
An internal review had found no apparent link between speculative food-based financial products and fluctuating global food prices, he said. "Although it cannot be completely ruled out that price volatility is enhanced under certain market conditions, we've found that prices also fluctuate in the absence of this type of financial product," he claimed.
In addition to dealing in financial derivatives trading in foodstuffs, Deutsche Bank, as a global player in financial markets, also offers direct investments in agriculture, food trading and production. Just recently, the bank created a new investment fund worth $135 million (101 million euros) aimed at lending money to farmers in Africa.