See more from this Session: CSSA Breakfast, Awards, and Plenary (Betty Klepper Endowed Lectureship)
Monday, October 17, 2011: 8:45 AM
Hilton Palacio del Rio, Salon del Rey, Fourth Floor
Recurrent food price crises—combined with the global financial meltdown, volatile energy prices, natural resource depletion, and climate change—threaten the livelihoods of millions of poor people. Rice, maize and wheat provide at least 30% of the food calories of more than 4.5 billion people in 94 developing countries (CGIAR 2010). At current prices, their demand in the developing world will increase by up to 100% by 2050, yet productivity increases have fallen far behind the pace of rising demand. Harvest shortfalls, even on a small fraction of annual global production, combined with low physical stocks and speculation, have driven international grain prices to unprecedented levels and contributed to social unrest in several low- and middle-income countries. Such food price crises will reoccur, become more pronounced and push millions of people back into poverty, unless decisive measures are taken. Past increases in agricultural productivity suggest the potential for boosting productivity anew, if greater R&D investments were targeted at lesser developed regions in the world. However, climate change and natural resource scarcitiesy (energy, fertilizer, land, water) will make it a daunting challenge to produce food sustainably for an expected global population of 10 billion. CIMMYT, IITA and ICARDA have recently redefined a 10-point action agenda for international maize and wheat research, encompassing cutting-edge research, a pragmatic orientation toward impacts and stronger partnerships. Buffering maize and wheat against heat and drought, unlocking their vastly unknown genetic diversity, moving precision agriculture into the reach of resource poor farmers, or providing farmers with stronger incentives and means to adopt improved agricultural technologies, they and more will be part of the ambitious agenda.