To fight hunger, collaborate

WFPBy Anna Maikova

DES MOINES, Iowa — To improve global food security, farmers, businesses and governments must change how they collaborate, several experts said at the World Food Prize meeting on Wednesday.

“The world doesn’t have a choice,” said Tjada McKenna, deputy coordinator for development for Feed the Future. “The changes will be caused by either crisis or consolidated leadership.”

McKenna and others highlighted trends in rising collaboration after the world food crisis in 2008 during a session on crop intensification, technology and environmental sustainability at the meeting.

Political and economic coalitions are one of the possible solutions, McKenna said. She cited the example of groups that bring together the heads of major world powers.

In Ethiopia, Feed the Future has worked with the government to target investments in regions where they will have the greatest effect.

“Many agencies work there together to drive concrete differences, strengthen institutions and work with local universities,” McKenna said.

Robert Fraley, a 2013 World Food Prize laureate and executive vice president of Monsanto Co., agreed that agriculture needs networks of farmers, business and government.

“Countries cannot do the changes separately,” Fraley said. “It takes an integrated world to help farmers survive and feed the growing population.”

Advances in biological and information technology will help raise yields around the world, according to Mark W. Rosegrant, director of International Food Policy Research Institute. The organization is focused on fighting hunger using analytical models and experiments for three major crops: rice, wheat and maize.

“There are incredible innovations that will help to dramatically increase the productivity of yield and be much more efficient,” said Dan Glickman, vice president of the Aspen Institute, an organization collaborating with African farmers to use modern technologies.

Monsanto’s Fraley described one example using cellular phone technology. Monsanto India Ltd. sends daily text messages to 3 million farmers reporting on local weather conditions, and educational opportunities, he said.

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