By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal
STARKVILLE – The world faces a looming challenge, international experts told conference participants at Mississippi State University on Monday.
By the year 2050, the global population is expected to increase by nearly 30 percent from 7 billion to 9 billion. The growth will put added pressure on the planet’s resources to feed so many new mouths.
Solving the problem will require a collaboration of government agencies, universities, businesses, non-governmental agencies and others, and Mississippi State would like to be among the leaders of that push, MSU President Mark Keenum said.
In that light, the school hosted “Technology Implementation at the Local Level: Food Security for the Future,” an international conference held at Colvard Student Union. It is the first time MSU has hosted such a conference.
“When you add two billion more people to the global dinner table and do not add additional resources, you must have research about how to get more out of the resources we have today,” Keenum said. “That is what universities do, they solve problems.”
The conference attracted a host of dignitary speakers, including U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran, U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Raj Shah, Millennium Challenge Corporation CEO Daniel Yohannes and Association of Public Land-grant Universities President Peter McPherson. Other speakers included experts from Brazil and Mozambique.
“We want to recommit our resources here in Mississippi at the university and government-agency level to work hard and address the root causes of hunger, malnutrition and poverty,” said Cochran, who is the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Appropriations.
An audience of about 300 included about 75 MSU students and 175 faculty and staff from the university. The conference also attracted attendees from other universities throughout the nation, as well as Mississippi Agriculture Commissioner Cindy Hyde-Smith.
Smith said she came to support the university’s efforts.
“It is wonderful this forum has been planned to share our successes and learn from other experts,” she said.
The conference was the brainchild of Keenum, who formerly served as under-secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture and who has previously signed a memorandum of understanding for MSU to collaborate with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.
Keenum said the university’s efforts will include sending its faculty and graduate and undergraduate students into the field to help solve problems involving food across the world, as well as training a large number of students from other nations.
“This is a great opportunity for Mississippi State to highlight and showcase capabilities and resources we have to help a great need in our world,” Keenum said of the conference.