Bill Gates learns to pollinate wheat from Cornell University assistant professor Jessica Rutkoski, while ARS geneticist Edward Buckler looks on. Photo credit: Robert Barker, Cornell University.
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 USDA’s rich science and research profile.
Bill Gates, once simply of Microsoft fame, is now as famous for his dedication to reducing hunger in Sub-Saharan Africa and other goals that drive the work of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. He recently visited Agricultural Research Service’s (ARS) Plant, Soil and Nutrition Research Unit in Ithaca, NY, to learn what two geneticists are doing to improve crop breeding decisions that could be used in that part of the world.
At the research unit, ARS geneticist Edward Buckler is turning the encyclopedic amount of genetic information he has developed about corn into helping the crop yield the kind of improvements in Africa that have been made in North America. Varieties bred for North American climates simply do not work in Africa where they currently produce only about one-fifth the harvest they do in this country. Millions of hungry and extremely poor people can’t afford the hundred years it would take for conventional breeding that was once the path taken in the United States. Read more »
Under Secretary for Rural Development Lisa Mensah stands at the head of the historical trail where marchers began their trek across the Edmund Pettus bridge enroute to Montgomery, Alabama seeking voting rights for African-Americans.
On my first trip as the Under Secretary for Rural Development, I visited Alabama and Mississippi. It seemed fitting for me to begin my trip in Selma, Alabama given the historical significance of the location. The march from Selma, led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., embodied our most human desires: to be treated fairly, to be heard, to be treated with decency-to not be denied access and opportunities due to the color of our skin, our gender identity, our gender expression or our political identity.
I was raised in Oregon by my father, an immigrant from Ghana and my mother, an Iowa farm girl. Standing there in Selma, the sacrifices made by those before me came into focus. As an African-American woman, I’m now very honored to be at an agency that plays an important role in bringing new investments to rural America. Read more »
It’s not hard to list our accomplishments here at USDA: After all, our progress on the much anticipated 2014 Farm Bill has been lauded as “the most successful Farm Bill implementation.” We also launched a website for New Farmers and started a conversation with women in agriculture that will continue to grow for many years to come.
What is sometimes less obvious is the people whose lives these programs and initiatives impact. So, to wrap up the year, I wanted to share a few of my most cherished memories from my first year as Deputy Secretary. Read more »
When you prepare to welcome family and friends this holiday season, good planning can help avoid wasting food and save you money.
November and December are traditionally times of celebration of various holidays in America, religious and secular. This is a time for enjoyment and fellowship in the company of family, friends, and neighbors. The celebrations almost always include gathering at dinner tables over feasts of the bounty our farmers provide.
Unfortunately, this is also a time when, after the celebration and feasting are done, a significant proportion of the leftover edible food is tossed in the trashcan or put down the disposal. Much of this food ultimately ends up in landfills.
The Economic Research Service estimates that over 130 billion pounds of edible food goes uneaten per year at the retail and consumer levels in the United States, equating to over 1,200 calories per day per man, woman, and child. On average, this suggests that as a nation almost one-third of the edible food that could meet our caloric needs goes uneaten. Read more »
Officials inaugurate the first renovated road funded by USDA in Laty, Senegal.
We don’t spend much time thinking about roads in the United States. We worry about the traffic on them, but we don’t often consider the importance of the actual road itself. But to the Senegalese villages of Sindone, Yabon and Laty, a new road represents a path to a more prosperous life.
A new 7.5-mile stretch of road now runs through the three villages. It is the first renovated secondary road completed with the support of USDA’s Food for Progress program. I had the pleasure of attending the ribbon cutting ceremony for the new road in the village of Laty and seeing the difference it will make in the residents’ lives. The road will connect the villagers with markets where they can sell their crops, like mangoes, cashews and palm oil, to create new economic opportunities and expand food availability. Read more »
The number of food-insecure people in Sub Saharan Africa is projected to rise over the next decade. But modern, higher yielding crop varieties hold promise for improvements in the region's food security situation. USDA's Economic Research Service provides annual 10-year projections of international food security.
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 USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.
Across the globe, how are low- and middle-income countries faring in the ability to feed their populations? The International Food Security Assessment, released annually by the Economic Research Service (ERS), is the only report to provide a 10-year projection of food security in these countries. Since the 1980s, ERS has been conducting research and reporting on food security in countries most likely to face food security challenges.
To assess countries’ food security, ERS uses two key determinants: domestic food production and import capacity. In countries where domestic food production accounts for a large share of consumption (many in Sub Saharan Africa and Asia), increasing output of staple crops is crucial to improving food security. By comparison, in countries that rely on imports for a large share of their food supplies (many in North Africa and Latin America), the capacity to pay for imports is more important. Read more »