Public Release: 

Conference seeks sweeping changes to global agriculture

Burness

Up to 1,000 World Food Prize Laureates, ministers, farmers, community development organizations, leading scientists, and innovators will gather in Montpellier, France from 28-31 March 2010 for the first ever Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development (GCARD).

The meeting has been tasked by the G8 to turn debates on future needs in agriculture into constructive actions to reshape its future. After decades of lagging agricultural investment, GCARD will seek to strengthen and harness the use of agricultural research to meet the enormous challenges of doubling the food supply over the next 40 years, lifting a billion people out of poverty and hunger, and doing so in ways that are environmentally sustainable.

GCARD brings together collective efforts among those who are generating and using agricultural knowledge at all levels. It has been spurred by recent major summits and reviews that have called for a strengthening and refocusing of agricultural innovation around the world to turn agricultural knowledge, tools, and technologies into real change in the lives of the poor. The meeting is part of a massive effort to align priorities of farmers on-the-ground with concrete policies and commitments from donors as a springboard for rapid change and collective action.

"This meeting marks the beginning of a global transformation in agriculture," said World Food Prize Laureate Dr. Monty Jones, who is leading the team organizing the meeting. "Agriculture has to be able to change at a speed and scale never before contemplated, and many of these reform processes are already underway. Our discussions and the new forms of research that arise from them will enable us to better pinpoint how to deploy limited agriculture dollars to meet a range of development needs--whether it's to develop new drought-resilient maize varieties in East Africa, new partnerships that link women farmers to markets to sell their harvests, or making much better use of water in regions where water scarcity is a serious threat."

At the close of GCARD, participants will outline the research priorities and required actions among all parties that will most effectively contribute to sustainable development and global food security.

The conference aims to address the following issues critical to the future of farming:

  • What is required to increase food production while reducing the impact of farming on the environment?
  • How can investments in agriculture better benefit poor farmers?
  • What will be the role of China, Brazil, India, and Russia in the new "agricultural order"?
  • How will the world feed more people in the face of daunting natural resource constraints?
  • Climate change, biofuels, and the energy crunch are new challenges to agriculture. At the same time, until recently, global investments in agriculture have declined dramatically over the last 20 years. How will agriculture cope around the world?
  • How can science and innovation double the odds against these challenges?

"The stakes are very high when you superimpose the security threats and economic migration that could emerge from poverty, hunger, and further deprivation," said Dr. Adel El-Beltagy, Chair of the Global Forum on Agricultural Research (GFAR). "We have already experienced compounded challenges posed by globalization, financial crisis, food crisis, and climate change. The food crisis is not yet over, and there is an urgent need to harness efforts against future crises. We're particularly behind when it comes to climate change, as today's hottest days are tomorrow's norm, and we don't yet have the crops in hand for these conditions. We all need to work together through strong national systems that can generate and adapt new knowledge in line with the needs of the poor."

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GCARD meetings, organized through the Global Forum on Agricultural Research (GFAR), will be held every two years. GCARD will replace the GFAR triennial conference and the annual general meetings of the CGIAR. Agropolis International is partnering with GFAR to help organize GCARD 2010. For more information, please visit: www.egfar.org/egfar/website/gcard.

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