Advancing Research and Technology for Zero Hunger

July 17, 2018

This article was originally published by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Liaison Office in Washington on June 26, 2018. It can be found here. Re-posted with permission from FAOLOW.

Amb. Tony Hall, Executive Director Emeritus of the Alliance to End Hunger, offers opening remarks at a briefing on research, technology, and food security. The event was co-hosted by the Alliance to End Hunger, FAO, and Senate Hunger Caucus. (Nathan Magrath/Alliance to End Hunger)

FAO North America in partnership with the Alliance to End Hunger and the Senate Hunger Caucus hosted a discussion entitled, “Research and Technology: Providing ‘Bang for the Buck’ in Global Agricultural Development.” The event gathered staff from congressional offices, NGOs, the private sector and academic institutions to discuss how different entities are leveraging research and technology to improve agriculture globally.

“Innovation and technology can help us achieve Zero Hunger but only though collaboration and working together,” said Ambassador Tony Hall, President Emeritus of the Alliance to End Hunger in his keynote address.

“When we think about agriculture research and technology, we have to keep in mind that 70 to 80 percent of global agriculture is done by smallholder farmers. We cannot leave them out!” emphasized Vimlendra Sharan, Director of FAO North America in his opening remarks.

Featured panelists included Dr. Stephanie Schollaert Uz, Applied Sciences Manager at National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).  She highlighted how NASA has long been using earth-system science to monitor weather, soil moisture and changes in land vegetation and more, providing valuable information on agricultural trends and progress on specific targets of the sustainable development goals.

Rob Bertram, Chief Scientist of the Bureau for Food Security at United States Agency for International Development (USAID) shared examples of how the Agency is leveraging science to advance its work. He highlighted how Total Factor Productivity now accounts for most of the agriculture growth in developing economies, more so than through the intensification of resources such as the use of increased land, water, and inputs. By reducing postharvest loss, increasing water efficiency, improving soil health, genetic improvement and improved weather predictions, many countries under USAID’s Feed the Future Initiative have seen increased food production. He also highlighted the effectiveness of USAID’s collaboration with FAO to combat Fall Armyworm in Africa through a mobile phone app.

Bob Fries, Executive Vice President of Technical Learning and Application of ACDI/VOCA shared how his organization is deploying research and technology to identify effective, accessible and affordable technologies to help farmers access the market.  One in particular is an entrepreneurial endeavor by University students in Kenya called Savannah Circuits, a milk collection and cooling system transported with a motorcycle connected to an electronic payment system.

Peter Rowan, Senior Director of Federal Affairs at Mars, Inc. emphasized the importance of collaboration as he shared accounts of how Mars is working on incentivizing their value chain to meet the Paris Accord as well as providing micro-financing opportunities for women to have greater impacts on their communities.

The roundtable discussion underscored how research and technology is already playing a role in agriculture development outcomes. These technologies are paving the way for improved food security at the household, community and national level.