Farmers and Researchers: Growing Food for Life

Sally Rockey, Ph.D.

Executive Director Emeritus

National Agriculture Day is a great opportunity to thank America’s farmers. It’s amazing to walk into any grocery store and know that much of the food available is produced by just two percent of Americans who work in agriculture. American farmers are the most productive in the world, driving economic growth and stability.

There is a broad network of American agriculture researchers supporting and driving this success. Through technological innovation, agriculture researchers are constantly discovering new ways to make farming more efficient and productive. Agriculture research has unlocked the vast potential of crops, leading to greater yields and increased resiliency against pests and adverse weather. Moreover, greater yields and resiliency means more food for more people.

In his acceptance speech for the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize, now almost 50 years ago, Dr. Norman Borlaug celebrated the unprecedented increases in crop yields he and his Green Revolution achieved, saying, “When the Nobel Peace Prize Committee designated me the recipient of the 1970 award for my contribution to the ‘green revolution’, they were in effect, I believe, selecting an individual to symbolize the vital role of agriculture and food production in a world that is hungry, both for bread and for peace.” He cautioned, however, that, “The green revolution has won a temporary success in man’s war against hunger and deprivation; it has given man a breathing space.” Dr. Borlaug knew that a growing human population necessitated new research and new green revolutions, more bread for more peace.

Today, agriculture researchers and scientists have taken up the gauntlet of Dr. Borlaug’s challenge to “double the world food supply by 2050” and liberate more people from chronic hunger. The Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR) is an important piece of this mission; by creating unique public-private partnerships, the Foundation channels resources to projects that will catalyze the next green revolution. Realizing Increased Photosynthetic Efficiency (RIPE) is one such project that is already bearing fruit. FFAR partnered with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development to find ways to make crop photosynthesis more efficient and early results show that a 40% increase in plant biomass is possible. FFAR works with forward-thinking leaders in academia, industry and government to rapidly expand the frontiers of agricultural research, while training the next generation of innovative researchers and scientists. 

Dr. Borlaug is credited with saving over one billion lives from starvation and it is imperative that we continue his mission. FFAR is proud to work with all stakeholders in American agriculture to help keep a growing population healthy and fed.

By FFAR Staff