This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post and The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, marking the occasion of its annual Global Food Security Symposium in Washington, D.C., which will be held on May 21st. For more information on the symposium, click here. Follow @globalagdev and #globalag on twitter to join the conversation on May 21st.
Michael Hoevel is the Deputy Director of Agriculture for Impact at Imperial College London.
As the expiration date of the Millennium Development Goals draws closer, our promise to eradicate extreme hunger and poverty remains largely unfulfilled. In sub-Saharan Africa, over 200 million people (nearly 23% of the population) are chronically hungry and 40% of children under the age of five are stunted due to malnutrition. As a global community, we urgently need to establish new models for addressing these challenges.
Science-based agriculture offers such a solution – not only tackling food insecurity but also overlapping with multiple, interacting global threats, from managing scarce supplies of land and water to minimizing carbon emissions and post-harvest losses. Whilst no silver bullet exists to eliminate these threats, scientific approaches can go a long way to manage them. Across the agricultural value chain from agricultural research laboratories to agronomists and extension workers in the field and processors and exporters, scientific interventions can help people at each step to make African agriculture a great deal more productive and resilient, as well as more viable as a livelihood and business for the continent’s farmers.
The Chicago Council’s Global Food Security Symposium and its upcoming report, Advancing Global Food Security: The Power of Science, Trade, and Business, will discuss this very question of how to capitalize on the power of science to end hunger. Similarly, a recent report from the Montpellier Panel outlines a new paradigm for African smallholders focusing on ‘sustainable intensification’. The term refers to equipping farmers with the innovations required to navigate the joint goals of producing more nutritious food and boosting incomes whilst preserving the environment, adapting to climate change and reducing food waste.