Recognizing World Population Day with a commitment to global food security

Wednesday, July 6, 2016
July 11, is World Population Day. The global population is getting bigger, and hungrier.  A recent United Nations report projected the world population to increase by 1 billion over the next 12 years, reaching 9.6 billion by 2050. To feed this growing population, global food production must increase by 60 percent before 2050.

USDA and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) are investing in the issue of global food security to ensure, adequate food supplies into the future.

"The solution to global food security lies in innovation, arising from research and development." –Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack

Sorghum is an important crop around the world, especially in many African countries where it is a primary food source. As the top global exporter of grain sorghum, U.S farmers are looking for ways to increase this staple crop. Researchers at Kansas State University have studied sorghum to better understand why a crop hybrid often performs better than either of its parent lines, a tendency known as heterosis. The research focused on plant height, and plant breeders can immediately use these findings to influence plant height in new sorghum lines.  Ultimately, the results may also help improve crop yield, and other desirable traits.

NIFA also collaborates internationally to help improve global food security. In many developing countries around the world, achieving and maintaining food security is a challenge, but it’s one that NIFA’s Center for International Programs (CIP) is helping countries meet.

Patty Fulton, NIFA national program leader for international programs, traveled to Dondon, Haiti, where she served as a mentor to Haitian administrators and teachers at a newly opened vocational agricultural school. Launched by a team of educators from the University of California, Davis, the school trained 37 students on agricultural topics related to food production.  A second school is also scheduled to open in Haiti in the near future. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) funded the project through an agreement with USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service.

Another project, the Afghanistan Agricultural Extension Project (AAEP), organized by NIFA’s CIP with a consortium of land-grant universities, collaborated with USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service with funding from USAID to develop 10 provincial model teaching farms, 185 farmer field schools, and hundreds of on-farm demonstrations in greenhouse production, grain storage, and water resource management.  From 2011-2014, AAEP trained 350 Afghan extension personnel who went on to train more than 5,000 farmers.  A key component of the project was its focus on women in agriculture – 290 women were trained in areas such as nutrition, food preservation, and food safety.

For more NIFA impacts, visit or the Land-Grant University Impacts website. Send us your NIFA-funded impacts at or share them with USDA_NIFA on Twitter #NIFAimpacts.

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