Stories tagged: green revolution

Video: Kickstarting the Next Green Revolution

Ambassador Kenneth Quinn, President of the World Food Prize Foundation describes the Green Revolution of the 1960s as “the single greatest period of hunger reduction and food production in human history” But as Dr. Norman Borlaug, the father of the Green Revolution himself said, we have to do it again, faced with a new set of challenges.

The World Food Prize of $250,000 awarded to an outstanding actor in food security each year, and the annual Borlaug Dialogue conference, that brings together business leaders, government ministers and scientists, are both steps that the Foundation is taking to kickstart the next Green Revolution. Continue reading

2013 World Food Prize Panel Event: Five Farmers from Four Continents: “Impacts and Opportunities of Global Climate Change”

On 16th October, 2013, Farming First co-hosted a farmer roundtable event at the World Food Prize in Des Moines, Iowa. (Read our commentary from the event and interview with the farmers here.)

The event featured five farmers from around the world (Africa, Europe, South Asia and South America), who shared their thoughts on the on-farm impact of climate change and discussed how new agricultural technologies and farm management practices were helping to improve the resilience and reliability of their farms in the future.

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The event was moderated by Julie Borlaug, granddaughter of Norman Borlaug and Assistant Director of Partnerships for the Norman Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture at Texas A&M University.  It was co-hosted alongside the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service (USDA-FAS), the U.S. Department of State, Truth about Trade and Technology (TATT) and CropLife International (CLI).

The farmer panelists included:

  • Gilbert Arap Bor, small-scale maize farmer and professor at Catholic University of East Africa
  • Gabriela Cruz, fourth-generation farmer growing biotech maize and president of the Portuguese Association of Conservation Agriculture
  • V.K. Ravichandran, Indian rice, sugarcane and cotton farmer, Secretary of the Sugarcane Growers Association and Founder of united Progressive Farmers Forum
  • Santiago Del Solar, agronomist, biotech soybean farmer and president of the Argentine Association for Maize and Sorghum
  • Dyborn Chibonga, farmer and CEO, National Smallholder Farmers’ Association of Malawi

Watch the full video of the event here:


The Next Borlaug Century: Biotechnology, Sustainability and Climate Change

The symposium will take place from 16-18 October in Des Moines, Iowa.

In keeping with Dr. Borlaug’s legacy, the event will bring customized and localized solutions for smallholder farmers to the forefront of dialogue on agriculture. Specifically, the symposium will explore:

  • The advances in science-based innovation in allowing us to not only produce more food, but to reduce loss and waste, enhance food safety and better manage our environmental resources. Looking at the role of technological innovation since the Green Revolution, the symposium will evaluate how we can use research, education, extension and enterprise to strengthen the linkages along the value chain to benefit all stakeholders, with a special focus on enabling farmers around the world to manage risks and build resilience in the face of growing climate volatility.
  • How we can best harness the many tools and technologies at our disposal, including biotechnology, alternative frameworks, and new methodologies and mechanisms, to improve human development, increase food security and enhance nutrition and health.
  • Diverse perspectives including agro-ecology and sustainable agriculture, as well as explore the crucial issues of land tenure, land management, emerging innovations in food traceability and precision agriculture. We will further analyze the metrics of sustainability and the success of collaborative initiatives to build climate resilience, while looking ahead at future challenges and opportunities.

For more information about the event, please click here

Book Review: “Enough: Why the World’s Poorest Starve in an Age of Plenty”


Two veteran Wall Street Journal reporters, Roger Thurow and Scott Kilman, have teamed up to write a book addressing one of the most pressing questions of the 21st-century: global hunger.

The authors ask why hunger persists when the technology and tools already exist to feed the world:

Since the time of the Green Revolution, the world has known how to end famine and tame chronic hunger.  We have the information and tools.  But we haven’t done it.  We explored the heavens.  We wired the world for the Internet…. Yet somehow we haven’t eliminated the most primitive scourge of all.

In the opening chapters, Kilman and Thurow introduce the work of Norman Borlaug, a Nobel Prize-winning plant scientist who died on Saturday at the age of 95.  Back in the 1940s, Borlaug was assigned to a newly launched research centre in Mexico to train Mexican scientists how to boost farm productivity through plant breeding experiments.

Over the next two decades, Borlaug’s research helped boost wheat yields in the research areas almost seven-fold, from 11 bushels per acre in the early 1940s to as much as seventy-five bushels per acre in 1960.  Borlaug then travelled elsewhere in the Americas and across to Asia to demonstrate the potential yields which these new varieties could produce and to convince policymakers and farmers to adopt them to feed their growing populations.  (Apparently, the Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi ripped up her flower garden to plant the new wheat varieties.)

And thus, the Green Revolution was born.  Demographic projections of mass famine and a population implosion were prevented, and the global supply of food exploded.

Yet around the same time, shifts in global agricultural policy began to shift.  Starting in the early 1980s, newly independent former colonies in Africa and Asia started to see a reversal in the foreign assistance being given to agricultural development (inputs, infrastructure, extension training, and research support).  In addition, the money being targeted at the alleviation of hunger came in the food of foreign-grown food aid shipped into areas of need.

A generation later, in the summer of 2008, the world went through a global food crisis where prices doubled and tripled for many staple foods and global reserve stocks of grain were reduced to dangerously low levels.  Kilman and Thurow argue that the time is right for a broad reinvestment into agriculture, similar to how the United States rallied to support the Marshall Plan for Europe in the aftermath of World War II.

The authors argue that public sentiment is in favour of increased support to feed the hungry, and social and political stability are increasingly under threat from those without sufficient resources to subsist.  They present a range of options, from investment in infrastruture and new seed technologies to policy reforms relating to how national budgets are allocated and how trade regulations are drawn up.

Africa is a particular target as it is seen as “the world’s final frontier of agriculture” where yields are still low and modern agricutural practices are often non-existent.  Coupled with a rapidly increasingly population, African farmers will be expected to double their production by 2030 in order to simply meet their own people’s food demands.  This will be no small feat, and it would require a coordinated, collaborative approach to see it through successfully.