The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) is a national association of 217 state university systems, land-grant universities, and related organizations across all 50 states. This week, USAID Administrator Raj Shah and several Agency representatives are attending APLU’s Annual Meeting, the premier annual summit for senior leaders of public research universities, land-grant institutions, and state universities.

USAID has enjoyed a long and productive history of partnerships with U.S. universities — partnerships that are critical to our success in many areas and dating back to our very founding 50 years ago. These institutions’ education, research, and engagement missions directly align with USAID’s charge to help people overseas struggling to make a better life. USAID partnerships with U.S. universities have focused on research and graduate training for promising young developing country scientists and on strengthening colleges and universities abroad to create the next generation of agricultural leaders. Together, we have made great progress. But there is still so much more to be done.

In his speech today, Administrator Shah challenged the university community to help us “push the envelope” in science, technology, and innovation to combat global food insecurity. Nearly one billion of the world’s seven billion people suffer from chronic food insecurity, and global food production will need to increase by 70% over the next 40 years to feed our growing population against an ever-changing social and environmental backdrop.

U.S. universities have helped define research priorities for Feed the Future, the U.S. government’s global hunger and food security initiative, and will play a critical role in implementing our new research programs. Investing in agricultural research and capacity development today contributes to the growth and resilience of the food supply tomorrow, creating a safer, happier, and healthier future for us all.

See a recent blog post from a participant in a USAID-sponsored capacity building program.