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ASABE Leads Global Food Security Efforts

Date: Thursday, November 10, 2016


When it comes to global food security, engineering and technology are more important than ever, and they have a critical role to play in a number of key areas.

That is the summary of more than 150 international experts who gathered recently in Stellenbosch, South Africa, to share research and perspectives on the engineering and technology innovation needed to meet looming food security needs worldwide.

Engineering and Technology Innovation for Global Food Security” convened October 24-27, 2016, drawing participants from six continents. Their aim was to identify ways in which engineering and technology can best be leveraged toward advancements in global food security.

Patrick Gaspard, US ambassador to South Africa, offered an opening presentation that emphasized the importance of innovation in addressing global food security, and he outlined the objectives of President Barack Obama’s Feed the Future initiative in reducing global hunger, poverty, and undernutrition.

Participants included engineers, researchers, educators, and executive staff at a variety of international organizations. Through research presentations, panel discussions, and rap sessions, attendees learned about food-security challenges and examined current successes.hey concluded the conference by collaboratively synthesizing information to identify key opportunities to advance food security and mitigate threats. Among the areas they determined to have high impact potential:

  • “Smart farming” tuned to regional environmental regulations and climate change
  • Technology and innovation specifically at the nexus of food, energy and water security
  • Improved decision making and communications between developed and developing countries
  • Agricultural and food production systems that are site-specific to their ecosystems
  • Stronger agribusiness practices that advance economic prosperity
  • Enhanced food safety in addition to availability, accessibility and affordability across commodities

Additionally, participants identified one area of advancement that could improve food security specificially on the African continent: a change in agriculture and food policy with better technology and stakeholder engagement.

“A major goal for the conference was to elevate the agricultural and biological profession globally and I knew we made great progress toward this when a speaker started her remarks by thanking ASABE for coming to Africa and going on to explain how this venue showcases the work we do – the work that makes a meaningful difference,” said Darrin Drollinger, ASABE executive director.

ASABE has been a leader advancing engineering and technology for food, agricultural, and biological systems. The society represents engineers and technology specialists worldwide, whose work brings greater security, safety, and prosperity to agriclutural producers large and small. The Society recently produced a white paper that outlines the ways in which ASABE and its members will contribute to enhance food, energy, and water security throughout the globe.

Engineering and Technology Innovation for Global Food Security was sponsored by ASABE and the University of Stellenbosch. Major financial support was provided by John Deere, with additional assistance from the ADM Institute for the Prevention of Posthavest Loss and the University of Illinois. Other sponsors included AGCO, the University of Arkansas, and Nercita.

The American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers is an international scientific and educational organization dedicated to the advancement of engineering applicable to agricultural, food, and biological systems.  Founded in 1907, the Society comprises members in more than 100 countries.





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