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  • akbangia 1:24 am on February 21, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: FAO, Green Revolution, Kenneth M. Quinn, MS Swaminathan Research Foundation, Norman Borlaug, ,   

    Working towards feeding the world’s poor 

    21 Feb 2010

    President of the World Food Prize Foundation Kenneth M. Quinn.

    President of the World Food Prize Foundation Kenneth M. Quinn.

    Inspiring people to focus on finding solutions to feed the world’s poor is no easy undertaking. But former U.S. Ambassador to Cambodia Kenneth M. Quinn, president of the World Food Prize Foundation, is the three time winner of the American Foreign Service Award for Constructive Dissent, and no stranger to standing up for what he believes in.

    “Never before has there been such a need for concerted cooperative action across national lines,” he told The Hindu at the conclusion of a three-day international conference on biodiversity at the MS Swaminathan Research Foundation on Wednesday.

    Comparing the impact of climate change on world food supply to the coming of a tornado, he stressed the lessons of the WFPF’s founder Norman Borlaug – that valuing and conserving the rich earth’s biological genetic diversity would provide agriculturalists with the answers to the conundrum of how to adapt to a warmer world.

    It is a passion borne not just of having met and worked with the inspirational father of the Green Revolution, but from his experience in South-East Asia. Mekong, Vietnam, his first diplomatic posting, wasn’t the champagne and aperitif posting that he’d imagined made up the Foreign Service. Instead it led him to road building and rice-growing.

    “Miracle rice”

    “I learned the lesson of my life,” he said, recalling how he watched “miracle rice” or IR8 double crop yield mean more household income for villagers, better fed children, and a reduction in violence.

    “Just imagine the situation here in India and Pakistan, without the miracle rice and the Green Revolution,” he said. “It took both countries from heading towards mass starvation and provided food that left people, in aggregate, well off for more than a generation.” Endorsing Dr. Borlaug’s position that the best way to make agricultural research thrive is by working with small farmers, the 2010 Borlaug Dialogue symposium in Des Moines, Iowa in October will be dedicated to farmers and their role in producing and preserving ecological resources. Representatives from over 60 countries are expected to attend. The World Food Prize, established in 1986, is the foremost international award recognising individuals who have advanced human development by improving the quality, quantity or availability of food in the world. There have been six Indian laureates.

  • akbangia 2:00 am on February 17, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Ambassador Kenneth M. Quinn, , , Green Revolution, Lars Pedder Brekk, M.S. Swaminathan, Norway Minister, ,   

    Time running out for fixing climate change, says Norwegian Minister 

    17th Feb 2010

    M.S. Swaminathan, Chairman of MSSRF with Lars Peder Brekk, Minister of Agric and Food, Government of Norway at a conference in Chennai on Monday. Photo: S.S.Kumar

    M.S. Swaminathan, Chairman of MSSRF with Lars Peder Brekk, Minister of Agric and Food,

    Government of Norway at a conference in Chennai.


    For every one degree rise in temperature, 6 million tonnes of wheat will be lost in India, the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the UN estimates. How do you feed a hungry, growing world population with climate change knocking at the door?

    Scientists, policy makers and researchers from 23 countries across the world gathered here on Monday began to address how the biological diversity of life on earth — the vast genetic array of plants, animals and micro-organisms — could be preserved, adapted and shared to provide enough food in a warming planet.

    “Time is running out, not only in the short term of finding international solutions to climate change containment but also to establish the wide range of measures necessary to secure the biological diversity which we are dependent upon for long term food security, ” Norwegian Minister of Agriculture and Food Lars Pedder Brekk said.

    In the last century alone more than 75 per cent of all known food crops have disappeared and the world relies on just a few varieties of rice, potatoes, maize, wheat and other staples.

    Unfortunately many of those lost or in decline are indigenous species that are the most nutritious, whether the green leafy vegetables of Africa or the millets of India, said Emile Frison, Director General, Biodiversity International. The double burden of hunger and obesity looms large – one in three people in the world are malnourished,he said.

    We need to prepare ahead of time, he said, for the shifts in plant and crop species that will survive temperatures higher than the highest average temperatures of today.

    Incentivising governments to do so will be no easy task. But, suggested Angela Cropper, Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme, developing an internationally recognised dollar value for our environmental resources and the “services” that the ecosystem provides, may prevent us from exploiting nature and serve as a means of protecting traditional cultures and farming methods. Crucial to the success of this was equal access to the benefits of genetic resources, whether new strains, or crop materials, she said.

    The International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture is one of several frameworks established for this. As well as storing seeds for future generations for free, Norway, the Minister said, contributes 0.1 per cent of the value of seeds sold in the country to the Benefit Sharing Fund of this treaty.

    More needs to be done, speakers said. “I’m still afraid of the population monster,” Ambassador Kenneth M. Quinn of the World Food Prize Foundation said, quoting the father of the Green Revolution Norman Borlaug in one of his last addresses in 2005. Borlaug’s solution, Professor Swaminathan said, of combining science with the needs of local farmers, is now more significant than ever.

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