As the world’s population grows, producing enough food — and doing it sustainably — will be one of the biggest challenges of the 21st century.
So how can Florida, one of the most diverse agricultural states in the nation, help solve this global issue?
Scientists, government agencies, business leaders and farmers are gearing up to find answers to that question when they meet at the University of Florida early next year for back-to-back gatherings.
“Florida produces over 300 agricultural commodities, and that range of crops and expertise is an asset to the rest of the world. UF is a natural meeting place for people from all over to come and map out how Florida fits into the sustainable food equation,” said Jack Payne, UF senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources.
The first event, the Future of Food Forum, will take place Jan. 15. This international gathering of leading researchers, businesses and others will share current innovations in sustainable food from the land and the sea, as well as the connections between sustainable food and human well-being.
“When people think about the future of food, they often think of famine, malnutrition, disease. These are real threats, but we have a lot to be optimistic about, and the people coming to this forum are working on things that give us a confident outlook on food over the next decades,” said Jim Anderson, director of the UF/IFAS Institute for Sustainable Food Systems, which is organizing the forum.
The forum’s keynote speaker is Louise Fresco, president of Wageningen University and Research, in The Netherlands. Wageningen University and Research is considered the top agricultural research university in the world.
On Jan. 16, UF will host Pathways Toward the Next Generation of Agriculture and Natural Resources in Florida. This event celebrates the 75th anniversary of the Board of Agriculture and Natural Resources (BANR) of the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM).
Experts from universities, industry and government will present on topics ranging from sensing technologies, precision breeding and the microbiome. Keynote speaker Graeme Hammer is a professor of crop sciences with Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation in the University of Queensland, Australia. Hammer’s research focuses on what factors make grain crops draught tolerant.
“The goal of the BANR event is to showcase the innovative programs at UF/IFAS, and how our research is contributing to solutions for complex challenges facing Florida agriculture and natural resources,” said Kati Migliaccio, chair of the department of agricultural and biological engineering, and lead organizer of the event. “Florida is an ideal place to consider the interactions between two drivers of the state’s economy, agricultural and natural resources, showcasing research in terms of the five breakthrough pathways identified in the 2018 NASEM study.”