— Making the Jump From Scientific Research to Improved Food Security —
Ensuring that research results make an impact on food security in sub-Saharan Africa will be the theme of an international conference next month.
The Africa College’s Food Security, Health and Impact Conference will look at how the results of basic scientific research can lead to increased impact on food security and human health, and how partnerships between research and development organisations can deliver innovation and impact.
This will be the first international conference by the Africa College, which is a research partnership between IITA, ICIPE and the University of Leeds. The event will take place at the University of Leeds on 24th June to 26th June 2011. Speakers at the event include Dr Monty Jones, from FARA, Professor Bob Watson, Chief Scientist at Defra, Dr Nicolas Bricas from CIRAD, and Dr Dennis Garrity from the World Agroforestry Centre.
Alongside the presentations and working groups, the Africa College Prize will be awarded to recognise individuals from research and development organisations, civil society and farmer organisations who have helped translate the results of food security and nutrition research into impact in sub-Saharan Africa.
A new report issued by the UK’s Department for Enviroment, Food, and Rural Affairs (Defra) outlines how the UK government intends to address future food security. According to the Guardian, the ‘Food 2030’ report takes the most comprehensive approach to agriculture policy since the Second World War.
The UK food industry is worth £80 billion and employs 3.6 million people. Driven by the triple threat of a growing population, the threat of climate change and a vulnerable supply of natural resources, the new policy by Defra outlines what the UK government perceives to be priority actions for the future, including:
- increasing the amount of food grown in Britain
- reducing the impact of agriculture upon the environment
- reducing agricultural emissions by the equivalent of 3 million tonnes of CO2 by 2020
- reviewing the impacts of UK consumption on agricultural economies in the rest of the world
- addressing the issue of waste through reuse, recycling or energy generation
- informing consumers about healthy, sustainable food choices.
The policy also spells out plans to double its investment in agricultural research to £80 million by 2013, with a focus on helping farmers in developing nations. Hilary Benn, the Secretary of State of Defra, said:
By turning research into practical ideas, and by learning from what the best are doing, we can achieve a lot more. Science will also tell us when nature is under strain.
‘Food 2030’ seeks to improve the UK food industry from production to distribution, providing better resources to farmers, whilst using natural resources sustainably to help the global food industry. Benn said:
We need to increase food production to feed a growing world population – there’ll be another 2-3 billion people in 40 years.
The Financial Times reports that plans detailing how these changes will be effectuated, including any necessary new legislation, will be released in the coming months.
Hilary Benn, the UK Environment Secretary, visited the US for meetings with Ban Ki-Moon and US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. According to a DEFRA statement, They discussed the topics of climate change adaptation, food security, and the green economy.
These threats are real, they are immediate, and they will affect us all. Environmental degradation is putting an increasing strain on our natural resources, and it is both a cause and an effect of climate change.
To solve these global challenges, Benn highlighted the need for a more sustainable and productive model for agriculture, as well as more sustianable building practices, transport, and energy production.
The goal of reinvigorating the agricultural sector, he continued, would have to be accomplished through increased collaboration and commitment from around the world:
We need the world to come together to deal with water scarcity, the damaging loss of biodiversity, and the challenge of producing enough food. The World Food Programme, the Food and Agriculture Organisation and others, need to respond to crises and support the investment that will secure supplies in the long-term.