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Nov. 1, 2012 Volume 34, No. 11

Deaton, Ugandan agriculture leader talk of world hunger at St. Louis event


Food scarcity in developed nations affects all nations, panelists say

Two billion more humans will walk the earth by 2050, with most of them living in the developing world. 

If the global community can’t find a way to produce enough food to feed everyone — without using more land or water — the consequences won’t just be felt in Africa or Asia, warned MU Chancellor Brady J. Deaton at a food security panel discussion Oct. 25 at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis.

“It would have a significant impact [on the developed world],” said Deaton, who was tapped by President Barack Obama to lead the Board for International Food and Agricultural Development, which focuses on global food security. 

“You’d see major price adjustments and major reduction in the quality of life for all of the planet that is interrelated — and that means everybody today. 

“We live in a global community,” he continued. “We all have a very large interest in elevating the quality of life around the globe.”

Deaton shared the stage at the multimillion dollar nonprofit research center with Zerubabel Mjumbi Nyiira, Ugandan state minister for agriculture. 

Uganda is part of the U.S. federal government’s Feed the World program, and is on track to cut its poverty rate in half by 2015. However, Ugandans still live on an average of $1.25 a day and 38 percent of children under 5 suffer from stunted growth and slowed cognitive development due to undernourishment. 

“Government policy in Uganda is to improve food security and increase family income,” Nyiira said. 

The country has initiated a zone-based agricultural system where they encourage family farmers to plant crops (food or cash crops) based on their geographic zone. The goal is to have every family farm earn 20 million shillings ($7,700) a year, which is enough to purchase needed food in the markets and contribute to the economy.

The board advises the department that administers the Feed the World program. 

Deaton told about 150 in attendance that the global community is making “extraordinary progress” on improving food security, thanks in large part to a high degree of cooperation between governments, non-government organizations and research institutions.

— Erik Potter