Sustainability in Food

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Op Ed: Building blocks of agricultural progress

(Originally published Oct. 17, 2013 – Des Moines Register) In the midst of many competing global priorities, the World Food Prize, held annually in Iowa, serves to remind us of the importance of ensuring global food and nutrition security. In the spirit of Norman E. Borlaug, the event brings together experts from many disciplines from around the world to support a common goal — improving the quality, quantity and availability of food across the world.

Never before has this goal been so important to the safety and security of our planet. By 2050, the globe will have 2.4 billion more mouths to feed, with the population exceeding 9½ billion. We must achieve this in the face of huge challenges, including limited resources (land and water), urbanization, climate change and volatile food prices.

Consider that we are not fully meeting the goal today with the over 7 billion people. Even with today’s abundance, nearly 1 billion people are undernourished and fully one-fourth of the world’s children will be stunted for the rest of their lives due to deficiencies of micronutrients. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that undernutrition and micronutrient deficiencies cost some 2 to 3 percent of the global gross domestic product.

The economic and human toll of hunger and malnutrition not only affects those countries that are food and nutrition insecure but the global economy as well. Productivity losses due to a malnourished workforce hamper countries’ ability to strengthen their economies and participate in international trade.

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About the authors:

The DUPONT ADVISORY COMMITTEE on Agricultural Innovation and Productivity is a group of experts in global agriculture development, science, policy and economics. The committee includes former Sen. Tom Daschle; is a group of experts in global agriculture development, science, policy and economics. The committee includes former Sen. Tom Daschle (chair); Charlotte Hebebrand, director general of the International Fertilizer Industry Association; J.B. Penn, chief economist for Deere & Co.; Pedro Sanchez, director of the Agriculture and Food Security Center at the Earth Institute at Columbia University and World Food Prize laureate; Jo Luck, former president of Heifer International and World Food Prize laureate, and Jason Clay, senior vice president of market transformation at the World Wildlife Fund. Learn more about the Advisory Committee

Ag Leaders Announce Partnership to Promote Conservation Agriculture Adoption

The Howard G. Buffett Foundation today announced a collaboration with John Deere and DuPont Pioneer to develop products to support a conservation-based system of agriculture designed and targeted to sustainably improve the productivity of smallholder farmers in Africa. The effort will be piloted in Ghana and include a conservation-based, mechanized product suite developed by John Deere; a system of cover crops and improved inputs from DuPont Pioneer; and support for adoption and training on conservation-based practices by the Howard G. Buffett Foundation.

“The long-term food security of Africa depends upon rebuilding its degraded soils, which can best be achieved through the widespread adoption of conservation agriculture practices,” said Howard G. Buffett, Chairman and CEO of the Howard G. Buffett Foundation. “This requires a focus on smallholder farmers and a system of training, equipment, and inputs to improve the land they farm even as they improve their production. We are proud to be working in partnership with John Deere and DuPont Pioneer to make that system a reality.”

The partnership was inspired by the Howard G. Buffett Foundation’s nearly fifteen-year history of research in conservation agriculture on its research farms in South Africa and the U.S., and its longstanding efforts at promoting adoption of conservation agriculture in Ghana, as detailed in Howard G. Buffett’s new book 40 Chances: Finding Hope in a Hungry World.

The partners hope to develop a vibrant market for small-scale, conservation-based cropping systems and affordable equipment for smallholder farmers, first in Ghana and then across the continent of Africa.

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