Agriculture News

May 11, 2016  

Purdue represented on commission to tackle global food security

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Three agricultural experts from Purdue University have been appointed to a newly created Association of Public and Land-grant Universities commission to help ensure universal food security by 2050.

The commission, called The Challenge of Change: Engaging Public Universities to Feed the World, includes Gebisa Ejeta, distinguished professor of agronomy and the 2009 World Food Prize laureate; Jay Akridge, Glenn W. Sample Dean of Purdue Agriculture; and Vic Lechtenberg, special assistant to the Purdue president and dean emeritus of the College of Agriculture.

The commission is tasked with identifying research, education and engagement efforts public universities should develop to ensure that the three pillars of food security - access, availability and utilization - are met throughout the world. It is expected to issue a report in early 2017, with final recommendations on how to align the agenda to meet this challenge.

The 31-member commission is composed of leading scholars in the agricultural, biological, physical and social sciences, as well as development experts, public university administrators and former senior government officials. The W.K. Kellogg Foundation provided financial support for the commission's work.

Purdue also has a strong connection to the commission chair, Randy Woodson, chancellor of North Carolina State University. Woodson is a former Purdue provost and College of Agriculture dean.

"Public universities are uniquely positioned to bring together the brightest minds from across academia and industry to solve the world's grandest challenges, and there are few if any issues that will be more challenging over the next several decades than worldwide food security," Woodson said in announcing the formation of the commission Wednesday (May 11). "The world's population is expected to pass 9 billion by 2050, and food productivity is already running behind the need. This important commission will strive to help build a sustainable food security model that can benefit communities across the globe for generations to come."

The commission will offer a comprehensive agenda through the work of interdisciplinary working groups focusing on the entire food system, from production to consumption, with the goal of identifying the key breakthroughs required in both domestic and global production and non-production issues to achieve future food security. These working groups cover sustainable production systems, plant and animal performance, soil health, food loss and waste, inclusive economic growth, human nutrition, food safety and sanitation, and knowledge and education.

The working groups will address these areas with consideration of crosscutting issues, including environmental effects of agriculture, climate change, policy and governance and institutional and system changes needed to address the key challenges identified.

Increasing global food security is a key area of focus for Purdue University, with Ejeta being a global leader in this effort. He is a member of the presidentially appointed national Board for International Food and Agricultural Development, known as BIFAD, which met at Purdue in 2015 to bring greater awareness of the need to reduce hunger in developing countries.

Purdue President Mitch Daniels announced in 2013 that the College of Agriculture would receive more than $20 million in university funding for plant sciences research and education to strengthen Purdue's leadership in developing new and novel ways to help feed a rapidly growing world population. The plant sciences initiative is among several Purdue initiatives designed to enhance research and educational opportunities for students and broaden Purdue's global impact.

A component of the plant sciences effort is an automated plant phenotyping facility that will open this summer on Purdue's West Lafayette campus. The facility will identify and measure plant characteristics to help farmers be more efficient in growing crops. 

The university also has begun construction of two animal sciences buildings that will equip faculty, staff and students with the latest technology to support research, teaching and Extension to help meet global demand for animal protein.

Writer: Keith Robinson, 765-494-2722, 

Sources: Jay Akridge, 765-494-8391,

Gebisa Ejeta, 765 494-4320, 

Related news release:

APLU launches commission to align & guide public research universities’ role in ensuring global food security by 2050:

Agricultural Communications: (765) 494-2722;
Keith Robinson,
Agriculture News Page

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