Water for Food

Year in Review, Looking Forward to 2017

December 22, 2016

By: Peter G. McCornick, executive director

Happy holidays from all of us at the Robert B. Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute at the University of Nebraska. We hope you will enjoy time spent with family and friends and appreciate the good work done during the year.

In my first few months as executive director, I’ve had the opportunity to talk with and listen to many of WFI’s key stakeholders, including our board of directors, leaders and faculty of the university, government representatives, private and non-profit partners and friends, here in Nebraska, in other States and Washington DC, and as far afield as Argentina, Sweden and Thailand.

I’m continually impressed by the shared passion we have to ensure a water and food secure world for future generations. It is work that requires creative and collaborative approaches – and a healthy dose of optimism. In addition to continuing population growth; we have competition for freshwater resources from growing urban centers; depleted aquifers due to overpumping; growing demand for a variety of high protein, often water intensive, foods as economies grow; and, increasing variability in extreme events, including floods, droughts and violent storms. These are just a few of the many complex and interconnected challenges to sustaining global food and water security that require innovative solutions adapted to the local conditions.

Our staff and broad network of colleagues are working intensely on new technologies to improve water productivity in crop and animal production systems. From remote moisture sensors in the ground, to localized soil and climate data available by cellphone, to overhead crop observations by drone, we are exploring a world of potential solutions that will help farmers grow more food on existing land with less water.

Of course, new technology is just part of the story. We need to share best practices and innovative policy solutions through education and communication to truly make a difference. To that end, I encourage you to read our FY 2016 Annual Report and sign up for our bi-weekly newsletter, the Digest. If you follow us on social media, you’ll get the latest developments and news of the ways in which we and our partners are enhancing water and food security.

In 2017, we look forward to making strides in several recently launched activities in India, North Africa and the Middle East, Brazil and the U.S. And, the Nebraska Water Center is working with other universities in the high plains on research examining the use of the Ogallala Aquifer and lessons learned to help us better understand how we can sustain this valuable resource for agriculture and other uses.

Do plan on attending our conference in 2017, “Water for Food Security: From Local Lessons to Global Impacts,” April 10-12. We are developing an exciting agenda of sessions and plenary speakers, including A.G. Kawamura, a farmer and former Agriculture Secretary of California for the closing keynote and Heuermann Lecture.

I hope you have a joyful holiday and take time to reflect on the important issues that affect all of us around the globe. Ensuring we have enough fresh water for all of our needs and enough nutritious food for everyone is an ambitious goal. But one we, along with others such as yourself, are inspired to achieve. Thank you for your continuing support in this vital mission and best wishes for a healthy, peaceful 2017.

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