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US: Texas A&M University observes World Food Day

World Food Day, marked each year on Oct. 16, can look to universities and scientists to discover new and sustainable ways to feed the ever-growing global population, Texas A&M University officials said.

The United Nations estimates the global population, currently more than 7.3 billion people, is growing steadily and is expected to reach 9.6 billion by 2050. The World Food Day has been observed since 1945 to focus attention on this complex challenge and to encourage all people to work together against hunger, wherever it is found.

The theme for World Food Day 2016 — with hashtag #WFD2016 — was “Climate is changing. Food and agriculture must too.”

Texas A&M AgriLife photo by Kay Ledbetter

“It is the role of the land-grant universities to find solutions to feed our growing world,” said Dr. Mark Hussey, vice chancellor and dean for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Texas A&M University. “We have to increase our capacity and capability to grow food while becoming more resilient, productive and sustainable.”

The Land-Grant College Act of 1862, more popularly known as the Morrill Act, established universities “to teach such branches of learning as are related to agriculture and mechanic arts” for practical education purposes. In the Lone Star State, Texas A&M is the land-grant university.

“I truly believe that land-grants have and will continue to play a pivotal role in fighting world hunger,” Hussey said. “Texas A&M is at the forefront of the cutting edge science that makes it possible to feed our world in a changing environment.”

The date for World Food Day was selected in recognition of the founding of the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization. The FAO’s three main goals are the eradication of hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition; the elimination of poverty and the driving forward of economic and social progress for all; and, the sustainable management and utilization of natural resources, including land, water, air, climate and genetic resources for the benefit of present and future generations.

The organization’s director general, José Graziano da Silva of Brazil, believes that the changing climate is already causing problems with global agriculture.

“Higher temperatures and erratic weather patterns are already undermining the health of soils, forests and oceans on which agricultural sectors and food security depend,” Graziano da Silva said in an FAO news release.

“As usual, the poorest and the hungry suffer the most, and the vast majority of them are small family farmers who live in rural areas of developing countries,” said Graziano da Silva.

He added that these farmers need access to appropriate technologies, knowledge, markets, information and investments.

Texas A&M takes a global approach to fighting world hunger via its Norman Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture in College Station, Hussey said. The institute was first organized in 1984 as the Office of International Agriculture Programs and later named for Borlaug in 2006.

The institute designs and implements science-based development projects and training programs that guide the phases of agricultural industry from production to consumption to fight hunger and poverty among smallholder agricultural communities of the developing world.

“The challenge of increasing food production and concurrently improving nutritional levels of food represents a daunting task: we must increase production sustainably on approximately the same area of arable land, utilizing fewer resources like fossil fuels, water and nitrogen,” said Julie Borlaug of Dallas, Dr. Norman Borlaug’s granddaughter and an associate director at the Borlaug Institute. “And, this must occur alongside mitigating climate change.”

Source: AgriLife Today
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