The 2014 World Food Prize ceremony, symposium and related events are being held this week in Des Moines. The three-day Borlaug Dialogue symposium officially begins Wednesday October 15 and runs through Friday. It explores issues related to alleviating hunger. Among the topics planned for discussion this year: assessing the gaps in feeding a global population that's expected to hit 9 billion people by 2050 and exploring how technology can help smallholder farmers increase production.
The event will draw guests from all over the globe. "We're expecting 1,200 to 1,500 people coming here from more than 60 countries," says Megan Forgrave, director of communications for the World Food Prize. "Many are scientists, economists, government policy specialists and farmers. They are from academia, government agencies, private industry as well as other organizations concerned about issues related to food and agriculture. This week will also include 300 students and teachers who come as part of our World Food Prize Global Youth Institute to try to inspire the next generation to work on these important issues."
African ag leaders to discuss Ebola threat to food security
The Ebola virus sweeping through three West African countries has taken thousands of lives there and now threatens those countries' economies and food supplies, experts say. Agriculture leaders from Liberia and Sierra Leone are scheduled to be at the World Food Prize symposium this week. They will lead discussions about the deadly disease's impact on their countries.
The president of Sierra Leone was supposed to attend the event in Des Moines, but due to the Ebola outbreak he will not be leaving his West African nation. However, he will participate in the conference and deliver a keynote address via satellite hook-up.
The full agenda and speaker list for the Oct. 15-17 symposium can be found at the World Food Prize website. All sessions will also be webcast live from the website. This year is the 100th anniversary of the birth of the late Dr. Norman Borlaug. The World Food Prize, founded by Iowa native and Nobel prize winner Borlaug, this year is being awarded to Sanjay Rajaram for his work in improving wheat production. Rajaram worked with Borlaug, who handpicked Rajaram to lead his wheat-breeding team at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center in Mexico.
Events and discussions are held around the state this week
In addition to the main events in Des Moines, there are events held at 20 locations around Iowa. Former World Food Prize Laureates and other experts in the field of agriculture and food production who come to Iowa are giving speeches and holding discussions at college campuses and other venues across the state.
The annual Iowa Hunger Summit begins the week of events in Des Moines on October 14. It is a free one-day, grassroots event for individuals and organizations working to alleviate hunger at home and abroad. New figures show 1 in 8 Iowans don't have the money or the ability to access healthy, safe meals every day. Iowa farmers, who lead the nation in many types of food production, say those sobering numbers show the need to embrace responsible farming innovation, which brings more food choices to more people.
Farming innovation and efforts to feed the hungry are focus
Farming innovation and efforts to feed the hungry are the focus of the October 14 Iowa Hunger Summit, now in its fourth year of sponsorship by Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF) and FBL Financial Group, Inc.
"All farmers are committed to providing a variety of healthy, safe food choices for consumers," says IFBF president Craig Hill. "Embracing farming innovation the way that Iowa farmer, Norman Borlaug taught us, helps us grow more food options while conserving resources, and innovation comes in many forms, most notably from genetically modified foods, or GMO's."
"The only way that the world can keep up with food production to the levels that are needed with a growing world population is by the improvement of science and technology, and with the right policies that permit the application of that science and technology."—Norman Borlaug
Recognizing hungry people need help beyond holiday season
Iowa consumers agree. In an exclusive Iowa Farm Bureau Food and Farm Index survey conducted this past summer by Harris Poll, nearly 9 out of 10 (87%) Iowa grocery shoppers say they are more likely to support GMO foods for their families if they knew they provided better nutritional value, used less pesticide to grow (84%), or provided better texture or flavor (82%). (Click here for Infographic.)
Community responsibility is also a cornerstone of character for Iowa farmers, which is why IFBF has donated more than $73,000 over the last three years, through the America Needs Farmers (ANF) initiative. "The ANF project is so vital to our food banks, statewide, as the Iowa Farm Bureau donation is one of the biggest we get every year," says Cory Berkenes, executive director of the Iowa Food Bank Association. "Every dollar buys four and a half meals, so the ANF project alone has put more than 328,000 meals on the table for Iowans in need."
Individuals, organizations, businesses coming together as community
Iowa Farm Bureau and FBL employees took additional action in the fight against hunger this year, launching a community garden on the Farm Bureau campus. Employees had full ownership of the project, producing more than 1,600 pounds of fresh tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, green beans, carrots and lettuce for the Iowa Food Bank. "Many like Iowa Farm Bureau and FBL recognize the need is crucial, not just in the holiday season, when people tend to think of helping their neighbors, but year-round," Berkenes adds. "We hope even more people will take this opportunity to remember those less fortunate, and the choices they lack, when it comes to putting food on the table."
"Food security goes far beyond the basics of ensuring access to food and nutrition," says James P. Brannen, FBL Financial Group's chief executive officer. "It's about individuals, organizations and businesses coming together as a community to ensure dignity and self-reliance in the battle against hunger. Each year, the Iowa Hunger Summit does just that, bringing together people from all walks of life to unite in continued action."
The Iowa Hunger Summit is being held October 14 at the downtown Des Moines Marriott from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information about the Iowa Hunger Summit go to the World Food Prize site.