Gebisa Ejeta, 2009 World Food Prize laureate and director of the Purdue University Center for Global Food Security

All of us share a stake in the search for practical and sustainable solutions to reduce poverty and the misery and inhumanity of world hunger.

Global food security is a crippling, global problem. Nearly 1 billion of the world’s 7 billion people suffer from chronic hunger because of economic, social, political and environmental conditions. One of the greatest challenges of humanity in the 21st century will be to meet the food needs of a world population expected to reach 9 billion people by 2050. It is projected that agriculture will need to double crop and livestock production by mid-century, while producing it more efficiently and safeguarding the sustainability of our natural resources. This is a tremendous undertaking that we must accept.

The U.S. government is exhibiting great global leadership in highlighting the importance of global food and nutrition security this weekend at the G8 Summit at Camp David, starting with President Obama’s opening keynote at the Chicago Council of Global Affairs’ Symposium on Global Agriculture and Food Security, where he is expected to highlight G-8 efforts to promote food security, improve nutrition and alleviate poverty.

I applaud his efforts and those of the G-8 to tackle this critical issue. We know that Africa is particularly at-risk to factors that lead to food insecurity, and focus should be placed on building the capacity of African institutions. We also know that the private sector can play an essential role in shouldering some of the responsibilities in global food security by ramping up innovations in agriculture that are generated by universities such as Purdue, where I and many of my colleagues currently work to help the world meet the growing need for food and energy in the coming decades. The Purdue Center for Global Food Security, which collaborates with other universities and research organizations within the U.S. and internationally, focuses on education, research and development, and advocacy to help humanity rise to those challenges.

As I have advocated in the past (pdf), I believe that meeting our food security challenges for the 21st century will require an advancement of scientific initiatives to improve crop varieties, to create more environmentally sustainable fertilizers and pesticides, to reduce pre- and post-harvest losses, and to develop new and more productive farming methods. Equally important is making sure that new technologies reach the world’s poorest farmers. Working together – governments, universities, the private sector and NGOs – we can solve one of the greatest challenges of this century.