CLF Heads to Des Moines for the World Food Prize

November 22, 2016

CLF Heads to Des Moines for the World Food Prize

By: Shefali Algoo, CropLife Foundation


This October, during the 2016 World Food Prize Week in Des Moines, Iowa, I attended the Borlaug CAST Communication Award breakfast and panel discussion, The Need for Agricultural Innovation to Sustainably Feed the World by 2050. The panel featured Sally Rockey, executive director of the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research; Amit Dhingra, associate professor at Washington State University; and Kevin Folta, chair of the Horticultural Sciences Department at the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. Professor Folta received the Borlaug CAST Communication Award this year and presented the keynote address on how scientists must understand the various evidence-based risks and benefits of agricultural biotechnology and must communicate their findings to the public at every possible opportunity.


The panel conversation centered around the systemic changes required to accelerate productivity in farming systems as the world’s population increases. Professor Dhingra pointed out how crop distribution systems in developing countries are hampered by restrictive trade barriers and emphasized that a more demand-driven perspective would help increase scientific discoveries in agricultural technology.


In addition to the breakfast panel, I attended another discussion organized by CropLife International focused on the past 30 years of scientific innovation in plant science and the future of modern agriculture. Speakers included Professor M. S. Swaminathan, founder, MS Swaminathan Research Foundation and winner of the 1987 World Food PrizeDr. Howarth Bouis, founder of HarvestPlus and winner of the 2016 World Food Prize; Ruramiso Mashumba, a farmer from Zimbabwe; and Pavitar Pal Singh Pangli, a farmer from India. The panelists shared personal anecdotes highlighting their personal commitment to Norman Borlaug’s vision.


In the exhibition area, I was able to speak with a number of company representatives and growers from around the world. One company from Indonesia sold dried mango chunks and was expanding into U.S. markets to meet growing demand. I also met a farmer from India who spoke at length about some of the inherent infrastructure problems facing Indian agriculture. A major takeaway for me from the week was that farmers around the world all deal with the same challenges, including weather patterns, seed availability, crop pests and disease, volatile commodity prices, and global supply and demand forces.


The CropLife Foundation (CLF) Board accepted an invitation from Scott Mortimer and Sarah Miller at Successful Farming magazine to visit their headquarters at Meredith Corporation while in Des Moines. To our delight, we had a chance to see the test kitchen for the magazine, Better Homes and Gardens, another publication of Meredith Corporation. The Board also had the opportunity to interact with a number of editors and learned about a new initiative at Successful Farming called, Meet Your New Boss, publicly launched this past February. The initiative addresses the fact that millennials now outnumber baby boomers and focuses on the impact that millennials have on food trends.


In addition, Bill Kuckuck, president of CLF, Kellie Bray, senior director of government relations at CropLife America, and I had an initial meeting with Trish Beal and Rose Barbuto from the Farm Journal Foundation to explore possible areas of collaboration. Stay tuned for more on this new partnership in 2017!


My trip to Des Moines was both busy and productive, and I enjoyed meeting so many diverse speakers and exhibitors from around the world. The Foundation is now following up on a number of projects that resulted from discussions at the 2016 World Food Prize Week. We’ll post updates on the CLF website as they develop.