By Anita Regmi, USDA Research, Education, and Economics
This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from the USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.
Living and traveling through rural South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, I have seen firsthand the challenges faced by many families as they strive to eke out a livelihood off a small, unyielding patch of land. The difficulties faced by such families will only become more severe as climate change, population growth, and increased use of arable land to produce alternative uses for food such as biofuels erode food availability.
A new joint research program, the Norman Borlaug Commemorative Research Initiative, represents a partnership between the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Agency for International Development (USAID) to address food security needs of such families by linking U.S. research and scientific innovations to effective adaptations in the fields across developing countries.
This initiative leverages USAID’s research programs and USDA’s research – the largest agricultural research institute in the world — to reduce global hunger by increasing cooperation and collaboration between the two agencies on research strategies and their implementation. This will allow USDA and USAID research portfolio on food security to be coordinated with ongoing work of other donors, multilateral institutions, and government and non-government entities at the country level to effectively improve agricultural productivity and reduce food insecurity in these countries. This is a unique opportunity to refocus global agricultural research on critical areas that have the greatest potential for sustainable impact and at the same time generate synergy through collaboration with partners in other countries.
Research investments will focus on priorities that sustainably advance the productivity frontier, transform production systems, and enhance nutrition and food safety. For example, it will allow linking USDA breakthroughs on genetic research to programs on breeding and adaptation in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa for staple crops such as rice, wheat and maize that are drought tolerant and resistant to weeds, pests and diseases. Through a “systems approach” scientific innovations will be integrated with applied research on conservation of soil and water resources, extension, and market access opportunities.