March 04, 2013
Christian Basi, BasiC@missouri.edu, 573-882-4430
By Kate McIntyre
COLUMBIA, Mo. – By the year 2050, earth’s population will grow from 7 billion to 9 billion people. Currently, all countries, even the richest, struggle to feed their citizens and are challenged by food deserts, difficult landscapes for growing crops, and tough weather conditions. The Board for International Food and Agricultural Development (BIFAD) is a group of scholars and agricultural specialists appointed by President Obama to develop solutions to this growing need. The University of Missouri will host the next public meeting of BIFAD on March 15.
BIFAD was created in 1975 under Title XII (Famine Prevention and Freedom from Hunger) of the Foreign Assistance Act. The board’s primary role is to draw on the scientific expertise of U.S. higher education institutions, especially those with land-grant missions such as MU, and advise and serve the country’s international food security assistance efforts through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
“We are especially proud of being able to host this meeting of these international policy advisors on our campus,” said MU Chancellor Brady Deaton, who is chair of BIFAD. “As scientific advisors to the administrator of USAID, we are dedicated to addressing the needs to feed a growing population. We have an incredible challenge before us — to produce food for 9 billion people — and we need our best scientific thinking to meet this challenge as we help people feed themselves worldwide.”
The theme of the March 15 public meeting is “”Globalization of agriculture and food research, teaching and engagement at land-grant universities.” The members of the board include:
• MU Chancellor Brady J. Deaton, appointed by President Barack Obama as chair of BIFAD in April 2011
• Catherine Bertini, professor of public administration and international affairs, Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University
• Gebisa Ejeta, distinguished professor of agronomy, Purdue University
• Jo Luck, former president and CEO of Heifer International and recipient of the 2010 World Food Prize
• Marty McVey, president of McVey & Associates LLC
• Waded Cruzado, president of Montana State University-Bozeman
• Harold L. Martin, Sr., chancellor of North Carolina A&T State University
• William DeLauder, president emeritus, Delaware State University (board term recently expired, but DeLauder will attend meeting)
• Elsa Murano, president emerita and professor in the Department of Nutrition and Food Science, Texas A&M University (board term recently expired, but Murano will attend meeting)
During the public meeting, BIFAD members will report on recent outreach visits to Africa and Asia in an effort to advise USAID and African regional development programs. Following that presentation, board members will discuss research priorities in pest management and sustainable intensification, which is the practice of increasing food production without increasing the amount of land used and practicing water conservation simultaneously. The presentation will be followed by a panel of MU researchers who will describe current agricultural research at U.S. universities.
“The focus is on the most vulnerable populations,” Deaton said. “We are also ensuring that food nutrition is considered. For example, a couple of years ago, I was in Tanzania visiting with some Tanzania graduate students who were studying tomatoes. The students were making sure the tomatoes, which are an important part of the Tanzanian diet, were protected from a fungus that kills tomatoes. As they analyzed their research, they were in regular communication with a scientist back in the U.S. The link from the latest science to the field is very direct.”
BIFAD’s public meeting will begin at 8 a.m., Friday, March 15, in the Fred W. Smith Room at the Reynolds Journalism Institute on the campus of the University of Missouri. The meeting will be streamed lived. Information about how to register for the live stream will be available soon.