Thursday, October 22, 2015

Doomsday Vault Opened

Recently scientists have had to open the Svalbard Global Seed Vault (known as the "Doomsday Seed Vault") to retrieve seeds to continue experiments and recoup lost seeds and research. The link below provides great information on the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. It includes videos, text, and further links to the website for Svalbard. The video (2:40) at the top of the page does a great job of explaining the purpose of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault and why it is needed today. There is a second video (1:16) farther down the page that gives a quick overview of seed vaults in general while focusing on Svalbard.  I encourage you to explore the information provided and use the discussion points below to guide your conversations.

Arctic Doomsday Vault Opens

Discussion Points

  • What is the purpose or why do we need the Svalbard Global Seed Vault (seed vaults in general)?
  • What has caused the Svalbard Global Seed Vault to be opened?
  • There is a focus on diversity of seeds and crops. Why is it important to preserve this diversity in the interest of global food security?
  • The seed vault has many varieties and/or crops that may not exist in nature today. Why is this important?

Friday, October 16, 2015

Borlaug Dialogue Day 3: Let's Get to Work

Today was the third and final day of the Borlaug Dialogue. There was plenty to think about and we were definitely left with a charge to get out and take action. Enough talk, it is time to take action and make a difference. Every little bit helps. As the previous days, below you will find a recap of our final day in Des Moines to keep the dialogue going.

Breakfast Keynote Address: Mehmood Khan

  • Fastest growing markets are outside the United States.
  • Do not be put off by challenge.
  • Diversity is key to success. Diversity of thought, not the way someone looks.
  • If you want to move things forward have a diverse team with diverse backgrounds with diverse education.
  • Do things that are right, because it is what should be done. Do not do the right things for just accolades.
The Case For Conservation Agriculture: Sir Gordon Conway, Howard Buffett, Kofi Boa, Alejandro Lopez Moriena
  • The greatest asset a farmer has is soil.
  • You can do a lot of things right, but if you don't with soil the other things don't count.
  • We need to utilize crop rotations and cover crops to try and emulate what nature did years ago on that ground.
  • No-till, rotations, and cover are the key principles to soil conservation.
  • The disk is the greatest compaction tool ever.
  • There is not a magic formula when it comes to crop rotations. There are different rotations for different locations and climates around the globe.
  • In developing countries the first step in conservation is cover in some way, shape, or form.
  • We must educate and show others the benefits of conservation practices. We must change the culture and way that people think.
The Orange Revolution: A Novel Approach to Traditional Challenges: Pamela Anderson, Maria Andrade, Jan Low, Robert O.M. Mwanga
  • We need to focus on all crops and livestock in order to combat hunger.
  • Sweet potatoes provide Vitamin A and energy to many children in developing countries.
  • Sweet potatoes survive better in drought conditions than corn or soybeans.
  • Farmers are selling 15% of their sweet potato crop in Africa as a cash crop.
  • Can have a sweet potato crop in three months.
  • One sweet potato vine cutting could give you 10-15 more cuttings to plant your next field.
  • We need a nutrition education component to accompany implementation of growing sweet potatoes.
Borlaug 2.0: Louise Fresco, Monty Jones, M.S. Swaminathan, Ronnie Coffman
  • Today our debate is about diversity, not only for minds but for crops and diets.
  • We should not shy away from more modernized agriculture, even in developing countries.
  • Had Norman Borlaug been here today he would have liked to see the Green Revolution get to Africa.
  • Key Points from the Borlaug Dialogue
    • Maintain interest in agriculture
    • Work together
    • Invest more in agriculture
Laureate Luncheon Address: Sir Fazle Hasan Abed
  • There are two things that plague the poor:
    • Lack of resources
    • Lack of solidarity among themselves
  • In Bangladesh hunger is considered a season like American autumn.
  • The poorest of poor can, if given the right assistant, get out of poverty.
  • The government didn't want to learn from us, so I had to set up a university.
  • We urged people to diversify starting with small vegetable gardens beside their homes.
It was a great three days that will keep us discussing these issues and more importantly push us to action to end global hunger!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Borlaug Dialogue Day Two: Big Data to Aquaculture

There was such great information shared during the second day of the Borlaug Dialogue! Many topics were covered from big data to aquaculture. As yesterday, I will post highlights from the various panels and presentations. Strike up a conservation with others and see what can be done to fight hunger around the world.

Precision Ag and Big Data: Technologies for Resilience: Ruben Echeverria, Yangxuan Liu, Benjamin Pratt, Cory Reed, Jose Simas, Michael Stern
  • There are more cell phones than people in the world.
  • There are 570 million farms globally and 72% are smaller than 1 hectare (2.47 acres).
  • Technology and innovation is the solution.
  • Ninety countries around the world have GPS/guidance capabilities in agriculture.
  • Technology needs to be used to improve fertilizers. We need more research in this area.
  • Precision Ag/data management is not just for crops but also applies to animal production.
  • Small data for smallholder farmers is very important. Lets not forget this.
  • Big data analysis does not replace the experts. 
  • Data privacy will continue to be a major issue.
Special Address on the Occasion: Cargill 150th Anniversary: David MacLennan
  • Change in global food system is constant.
  • Agriculture accounts for 40% of land use and 70% of water use.
  • Today yields are 6-8 times higher than they were 150 years ago.
  • We must grow the right crops in the right soils and climates. Then let free trade work.
  • We must close the gap between farmers in developing and developed countries.
  • Keys to Success in Feeding the World
    • Honor comparative advantage
    • Trust trading partners
    • Enact smart public policy
    • Let markets work
    • Invest in innovation
    • Pursue sustainability
Conversation: Voices from the Farm: Gebisa Ejeta, Eric Pohlman, Wanjiru Kamau-Rutenberg
  • Smallholder farmers in Africa produce 80% of the food in the continent, but yet these farmers are some of the hungriest people in the world.
  • Forty percent of the harvest is lost post harvest in Africa.
  • We must get farmers in Africa to look at agriculture as a business.
  • Animal agriculture currently accounts for 40% of agriculture GDP.
  • We need to change how we think in order to implement successful practices.
  • Access to credit in rural areas of Africa is a huge challenge.
  • There are a lot of things that are working, but we need to expand and improve.
Innovation: An Essential Ingredient to Feeding 9 Billion: James Borel
  • The path of food security begins by exploring the challenges, then developing solutions.
  • Demand is more than one planet can handle.
  • In 2009 the amount of people living in urban areas surpassed the amount living in rural areas.
  • About half of all farmers and their families are malnourished around the world.
  • Farmers feed the world, but they cannot do it alone.
  • We must find ways to significantly reduce food waste.  
Hope for Feeding Our World: Chris Policinski
  • We cannot let rich countries drive and determine what developing countries need.
  • We cannot wage a war against science if we want to feed the world.
  • Agriculture Productivity Drivers = Adoption of modern business, production management practices on the farm + Application of safe, proven agricultural technologies
  • Less than 2% are involved in production agriculture.
  • We need to get past "or" and move to "and." For example, it should not be "organic or conventional farming" it should be "organic and conventional farming."
Symposium Luncheon Address: Sheryl WuDunn
  • We must intervene early no matter what the cause.
  • Maternal attachment is so important to children success (both mother and father).
  • The brain develops the most in the first 1,000 days of life.
  • "Growing up poor is bad for your brains."
  • Thirty percent of american girls will get pregnant by the age of 19. Three times higher than European girls. 
  • Note the video below that was shared at the event in a discussion o empowering women:

Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture for Improved Food Security and Nutrition: Per Pinstrup-Andersen, Jeppe Kolding, Ami Mathiesen, Shakuntala Haraksingh Thilsted
  • The future of mankind is based on fish.
  • Aquaculture is the fastest growing area in the food industry in the past 20 years.
  • Eating fish make healthier children in developing countries.
  • China is number one in fish production from aquaculture.
  • Small fish have a higher nutritional value than large fish. Smaller fish are also more environmentally friendly. 
  • Africa and developing countries are not ready for aquaculture yet.
  • Fifty percent of fish feed has to come from proteins and fats.
  • Whole sun dried fish serve as vitamins and minerals at high concentrates ,becasue the drying has removed all water.
  • "Fish are animals breeding like plants and eating like lions."
Secretary's Roundtable: Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition: Hon. Thomas Vilsack, Alexander Howard, Brady Deaton, Gavin Starks
  • USDA is committed to opening up public funded research data for all to easily access.
  • We cannot expect others to open their data if we do not open ours.
  • The ability to communicate in real time is huge.
  • We need to find ways to protect identities, but share data through anonymity.
  • We have to think about data ethics.
  • Open data can help reduce friction in trade.
  • If you open data it is amazing how quality improves.
  • Thirty percent of food in the world is not used as intended.
  • The goal is to make data open to the public just not large companies and organizations.
  • The more precise we become it will benefit the farmer financially and the environment.
  • Law is always trying to catch up with the technology.
We concluded the day by enjoying a great dinner at he Machine Shed Restaurant before returning to the hotel to watch the Laureate Award Ceremony on television where Sir Fazle Hasan Abed was honored. We are all looking forward to a spectacular final day of learning, analyzing, and discussing the challenge of feeding 9 billion plus by 2050!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Borlaug Dialogue Kicks Off!

Today was a spectacular day as the Borlaug Dialogue kicked off in Des Moines, Iowa as part of the World Food Prize. The afternoon was filled with key issues facing Global Hunger and Agriculture. I will share key points from the various sessions. Our goal is that you will discuss these points and have the conversations grow from Des Moines to around the globe.

Kenneth Quinn kicked off the afternoon with a recap of the events of the past year for the World Food Prize. He, also, noted the theme for this years dialogue as "Borlaug 101." It was evident from the start that this is going to be an awesome learning experience for all involved.

Opening Keynote: Chelsea Clinton
  • We have a crisis that will only be amplified as our population grows. Feeding our world.
  • Investing and empowering women is not just the right thing, but the smart thing to do.
  • Women farmers should not just be participants, but leaders.
  • 1 in 3 children in Africa are food insecure.
  • We must tackle child nutrition issues.

Empowering Women and Girls Through STEM Education: Catherine Bertini, Chelsea Clinton, Michiel Bakker, Robert Fraley, Honorable Kim Reynolds, and Mary Wagner
  • About 3 million students will be involved in STEM programs in school, but many more are needed.
  • It has been found that in math and science classrooms teachers start calling on girls less and less as they go through school.
  • Three states in the United States did not even have one female take an AP computer exam.
  • We must change the structures of classrooms to be more hands on.
  • We must have a balanced education from arts to general education to STEM.
  • Farmers in the United States spend 10-15 minutes a year controlling weeds in an acre of land, where in Africa a farmer may spend 2-3 months managing weeds in an acre area. This is why STEM education is important.
  • A challenge for all: Make it a priority to create a list of women and men that you will mentor. Being a mentor is important!
The Ebola Crisis: One Year Later: Monty Jones and H.E. Florence Chenoweth
  • Now Ebola has a 70% survival rate.
  • Ebola hit the four breadbasket areas of Africa.
  • Ebola brought out the true resilience in Africa. We will rebuild!
  • Since October 4th Liberia has been declared Ebola free.
  • Africa must focus on getting back to where we were before Ebola hit. This includes everything: schools, health, agriculture, etc.
  • With communication Ebola could have been controlled better, but we had no idea what to communicate when it hit.
University of California Davis World Food Center: Launcing a New Initiative - Food For a Healthy World: Roger Beachy, Joseph Glauber, Christine Stewart, Daniel Sumner
  • Health transition mirrors economic transformation.
  • Food prices have eased over the last 12 months.
  • New population projections are showing 9.6 billion by 2050.
  • Bio-fuel demand has slowed since 2011 and future growth will depend on energy prices.
  • Globally child stunting is decreasing, but obesity is slowly increasing.
  • Poor quality diets are the leading cause of illness and mortality globally.
  • Food supply does not meet nutrient requirements or adequate dietary diversity.
  • We must place a priority on nutrient rich crops.
  • We must involve agriculturists in nutrition.
  • Import and export barriers and subsidies hurt the poor and hinder efficiency of agriculture.

We concluded the evening by making our way to the World Food Prize Hall of Laureates where Eric Pohlman was awarded the Norman Borlaug Award for Field Research and Application. This provided an excellent opportunity to network with others and explore the Hall of Laureates.

Check back Thursday and Friday evenings as the conversations continue! 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

World Food Prize Comes to Hawkeye

Today we were honored to have David Lambert from Washington D.C. on campus to share his lecture "A Closer Look at Global Food Security: Why Science Matters" as part of the World Food Prize Lecture Series. David is is an internationally recognized advocate for global food security. A former senior vice president of the New York Stock Exchange, he was President Clinton’s appointee as Foreign Agricultural Service counselor in Rome from 1999-2003. He serves as a distinguished fellow for Iowa State University’s Seed Science Center. As principal for Lambert Associates, he provides strategic policy advice on global food security, child nutrition, food safety, and agricultural biotechnology.

David shared issues impacting and facing global food security. He covered everything from climate change to nutrition to biotechnology. He went on to challenge those in attendance to encourage a culture change to cut down on food waste as 40% of food never reaches a human stomach for various reasons. Watch in future weeks for a video of David's lecture. We will share this video on our blog when it is available.

Above David is pictured with administration, faculty, and staff from the Global Agriculture Learning Center and Hawkeye Community College.This lecture series offered by the World Food Prize is part of the World Food Prize being held in Des Moines this week. On Wednesday students and faculty will travel to Des Moines for the Borlaug Dialogue and World Food Prize. Watch for nightly recaps and updates from the events in Des Moines to expand conversations around the globe!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

France's Plan for Carbon and Soil

We take a look at an ambitious plan by the French to increase the amount of carbon going into the soil. This has many benefits as noted in the linked article below. Read through the article below and use the discussion points to guide conversations around the globe.

How France Plans to Bury Carbon Emissions

Discussion Points

  • What role does soil play with carbon emissions?
  • Explain France's plans in regards to carbon and soil? What are their goals?
  • Why is it a challenge to raise soil carbon content?
  • What are the benefits of carbon rich soils in regards to soil health, plant growth, and the environment?
  •  Do you think this is a realistic plan/goal? How would individuals in your home country react to a plan like this?

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Women's Role in Agricluture

Women have always been a vital part of agriculture, but have not always received the respect they deserve. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is trying to bring light to the importance of women in agriculture production roles around the United States. They have created info-graphics for the United States as well as each state within it. In fact in the United States women make up 31% of the farming population. When you look at developing countries this percentage is much higher with 60-80% of farmers being women.

I encourage you to checkout the link below to explore the impact women have on production agriculture in the United States and follow the link within it to discover women's impact in various states and regions within the United States.

Women in Agriculture

Discussions Points
  • What are your thoughts after exploring these websites? Were you surprised by the numbers in the United States or specific states? Explain your thoughts.
  • How do different regions of the United States compare to one another regarding percentage of women who are agriculture producers? Why do you think this is the case?
  • Reflect on your home region and how it relates to the overall average in the United States. (For those in the U.S. compare your home state and for those outside of the U.S. compare your home country/state.)
  • Look at women in agriculture on a global level. Have each person in your group/class/discussion research another country besides the United States or your home country. What percentage of farmers are women? How does this compare to the U.S.? What are the factors behind the higher, equal, or lower percentages?