The 2016 Water for Food Global Conference concluded April 26 with speakers and panel discussions that ranged from a farmer’s view from the field to big data and the controversial topic of water pricing.
Participants in the popular View from the Field panel highlighted the theme of catalytic partnerships. The farmer, CEO and watershed manager shared their perspectives working in Nebraska agriculture. They agreed that greater collaboration among all stakeholders is needed to take advantage of opportunities to improve farming and water conservation.
We have to do a better job of working together and to encourage technology adoption, said panel moderator and private consultant John Heaston.
As information has been the commodity of the early 2000s, air and water will be the commodities of the next 30 years, said Richard Sandor, of chairman and CEO of Environmental Financial Products. Putting a price on water would incentive people to conserve. But while the technological ability exists, the social and political will remains an enormous challenge.
“I think the world would be a better place, if we put a price on water,” he said.
Enormous amounts of agricultural and water data from numerous sources are collected, but the ability to analyze the data to provide value to users remains challenging, concluded a panel on Big Data.
Collecting and aggregating individual farm data and sharing it with all farmers – an unpopular notion to many – is the answer to expanding yield rates fast enough to meet future food demand, said Ken Cassman, Water for Food Institute Faculty Fellow and emeritus Robert B. Daugherty professor of agronomy at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Sally Rockey, executive director of the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, stressed the importance of agricultural research in the closing Heuermann Lecture. In order to meet the demands of feeding a growing population, research must keep up with advances in science and technology, she said.
To drive research in food and agriculture, Rockey is developing partnerships between the public and private sectors. This type of partnership offers incentives for both sides to engage, including direct access to important research for the private sector and the opportunity to address real-world problems for the public sector. The result is research that can be transferred quickly to the economy.
The conference may be over, but the conversation doesn’t have to end there! In an effort to further the conversation surrounding the theme of “Building Public-Private Partnerships for Water and Food Security,” we encourage you to share your insights gained from the event and continue to engage with the Water for Food Institute in the days ahead.
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