Despite progress toward the goal of eradicating hunger worldwide, nearly 800 million people (1 in 9) are food insecure (FAO, 2015). In the US, an estimated 14.3 percent of households (17.5 million people) were food insecure at some time in 2013 (USDA, 2015). The World Food Program estimates that 1 in 6 children (nearly 100 million) are underweight, 1 in 4 are stunted, and poor nutrition causes 3.1 million children under 5 to die each year. Global demand for agricultural products is expected to grow 1.1 percent per year from 2005/2007-2050, primarily due to population growth, increases in per-capita consumption, and changing diets. In order to match this projected increase in demand, by 2050 global food production must be 60 percent higher than it was in 2005/2007 (FAO, 2012). This level of production must be achieved within the context of growing environmental problems, water demands, energy costs, and issues related to the distribution, utilization, and waste of food.
APLU has established a commission that will examine challenges to food security and make recommendations on the actions required by public research universities to meet global food needs by 2050. Historically, our public universities have been instrumental in solving agricultural challenges, but today’s food security issues are even more complex. These issues are multidimensional, crossing disciplinary & national borders, and solving them requires systems to change. Universities may be the only place where all relevant disciplines come together to address these complex, systemic issues.
Randy Woodson, Chancellor of North Carolina State University, is chairing the project. The members include university leaders, experts, a representative from the private sector & a former senior public official. The commission also includes university leaders from Canadian & Mexican APLU members, as well as developing country universities.
The objectives of this project are to identify:
The commission will identify, drawing on external expertise, an initial framework of the required research, institutional strengthening, human resources development & university organization needed to meet this challenge. It will appoint appropriate task forces to develop &/or expand on the components of the initial framework & will work with these groups to develop the final report. The report will focus attention of the international university community, the US government, the private sector & international development community on how to realign resources & efforts to best tackle the 2050 food security challenge.
The project objectives will be addressed through the work of inter-disciplinary working groups that will focus on both domestic and global production and non-production issues related to feeding the world sustainably by 2050.