Julie Borlaug speaks out on wheat research, world hunger
Feeding 9 billion people by 2050 will require scientific and technological advances in the area of agriculture, and that might include tools that lack acceptance by the general public at this time, according to speakers at the recent Rolling Plains Spring Field Day.
The field day, held recently at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research station near Chillicothe, featured Julie Borlaug, granddaughter of the late Dr. Norman Borlaug, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate known internationally as the “Father of the Green Revolution.”
Borlaug, external relations director of the Norman Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture at Texas A&M University, spoke as well as moderated a wheat seed industry panel consisting of: Jon Rich with AgriPro-Syngenta in Junction City, Kansas; Marla Barnett with Limagrain Cereal Seeds in Wichita, Kansas; Sid Perry with WestBred-Monsanto in Filer, Idaho; and Janet Lewis with Bayer CropScience in Lincoln, Nebraska.
“March 25 was my grandfather’s birthday and many people have asked me if he was here today what would his message be about how we are going to feed 9 billion people by 2050,” Borlaug said. “I think he would probably tell you there are three areas we need to be concerned about.”
The first area of concern would be involving the next generation, she said.
“It’s important for us to continue to train the next generation of agricultural scientists,” Borlaug said. “We need to engage students; we need to engage those even outside of agriculture, because it is going to take people from various backgrounds across different disciplines to help figure out how to feed 9 billion people.”
This challenge – feeding the world – will require new economic and political policies, new rounds of innovation and technology advancements in engineering, medicine, energy, but most importantly agriculture, she said.
This challenge will depend on the actions of the next generation of entrepreneurs – scientists, researchers, policymakers and farmers. These are the people she said her grandfather called his “hunger fighters.”
These hunger fighters must embrace technological innovation, creativity, bold ideas and collaborate across all disciplines, while effectively engaging smallholder farmers and the private and public sectors to come up with sustainable solutions, Borlaug said.
“So we need to continue to reinvest in that and move our next generation forward, so they will become the next Norm Borlaugs and leaders in agriculture,” she said.
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