My grandfather’s passion and lifelong devotion to feeding, as he would say, the “hungry and miserable” was truly amazing and inspirational. He never faltered or tired of this lifelong battle. He strongly believed that science and technological breakthroughs in agriculture played the key role in improving the quantity, quality and availability of the food for the world’s people over the past 50 years. He knew if we provided farmers with access to the best seeds and other inputs, fair prices and good governmental policies, no child would ever have to go hungry again.
Much like my grandfather’s Green Revolution, we have a huge challenge in front of us: How can we sustainably feed 9 billion people by 2050? This challenge will require new economic and political policies, and new rounds of innovation and technological advancements in engineering, medicine, energy and, most importantly, agriculture.
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As it was with the Green Revolution, the success of feeding 9 billion people by 2050 will depend on the actions of the next generation of entrepreneurs, scientists, researchers, policymakers and farmers — the people my grandfather called “hunger fighters.” These hunger fighters must embrace technological innovation, creativity and bold ideas, and collaborate across all disciplines, while also effectively engaging small-holder farmers and the private and public sectors to come up with sustainable and effective solutions.
Business as usual won’t adequately address the challenges we face in feeding the world or get us to this reality. We need fresh ideas and open minds and this is why we must engage and give a voice to youth.
Fear of change is one of our greatest obstacles to ensuring there is enough food to feed 9 billion. The next generation of “hunger fighters” doesn’t have this fear nor do they believe that these issues are unsolvable. They are optimistic, compassionate, driven, creative and concerned about international issues. That is precisely what we need to solve hunger; their innovative and unconventional ideas can be part of the solution. They’ve grown up with technology — they accept and understand the powerful role it can play in our lives. It is their families, incomes, livelihoods and world that will be directly affected by the looming challenges of food security in the future.
In order to inspire and engage the next generation, we in the development community have a responsibility to mentor and give them a seat at the table. I have been given the opportunity to work with amazing programs such as the Thought For Food Challenge, which is creatively engaging students in developing unique solutions to address food security. This program and others like it are providing great platforms for students to become part of the debate and solution, and we need to scale up and support more of these opportunities for the next generation.
My grandfather ended his Nobel Peace Prize speech with the following quote: “Where are those leaders who have the necessary scientific competence, the vision, the common sense, the social consciousness, the qualities of leadership and the persistent determination to convert the potential benefactions into real benefactions for mankind in general and for the hungry in particular?”
I hope the next generation will feel inspired to join the fight against hunger. Instead of wasting time on rhetoric and debate, the time has come for action, which will require new out-of-the-box thinking and an increased need for technological innovation. I hope the future hunger fighters will accept this challenge and with our support, join us in the fight against hunger and poverty.
Feeding Development is an online conversation hosted by Devex in partnership with ACDI/VOCA, Chemonics, Fintrac, GAIN, Nestlé and Tetra Tech to reimagine solutions for a food-secure future from seed and soil to a healthy meal.