(Des Moines, IA, November 2023) – Featuring experts from across the agriculture innovation chain, the discussion focused on how current and future agricultural innovations are delivering impact in the field. The discussion was part of the Norman E. Borlaug Dialogue Series; held in conjunction with the 2023 World Food Prize.
During the 2023 World Food Prize, 2Blades and the Supporters of Agricultural Research (SoAR) Foundation hosted a Norman E. Borlaug Dialogue Series event titled, “Progress and Impact in Delivering Agricultural Innovation.” The event was moderated by Rob Bertram, Chief Scientist for USAID and included panelists from across the agriculture innovation chain:
- Maria Andrade, 2016 World Food Prize Co-Laureate & Principal Scientists, International Potato Center (CIP)
- Eric Sedivy, Senior Research Specialist & Program Manager, Soybean Innovation Lab
- Mark Edge, Director of Partnerships, Seeds & Traits Business Development, Bayer Crop Science
- Josiah Mutuku, Group Leader, 2Blades
During the discussion, the panelists recounted examples of crop research and development that have delivered impact in the field by increasing the supply of safe, healthy food or increasing crop resilience to improve the livelihoods of farmers around the globe.
“Delivering advances in plant science faces significant technical, regulatory, political, and even adoption challenges. Yet despite these obstacles, important innovations are making progress – from demonstrating efficacy in the field to reaching markets and providing benefits,” stated Diana Horvath, Co-Founder and President of 2Blades. “This event was an opportunity for us to reshape the narrative around agricultural innovation by highlighting examples and trends where demonstrable progress and impact in the field have been achieved.”
The entire panel discussion is available on 2Blades’ YouTube channel here.
The event was held during the 2023 World Food Prize in Des Moines, Iowa. Heralded as the Nobel Prize for food and agriculture, the World Food Prize brings together researchers, scientists, policymakers, business leaders, and farmers to recognize and honor achievements that advance human development with a demonstrable increase in the quantity, quality, availability of, or access to food through creative interventions at any point within the full scope of the food system. This year’s World Food Prize honored Heidi Kühn, Founder of Roots of Peace, for her farmer-focused development model that revitalizes farmland, food security, livelihoods and resilience after devastating conflict. Roots of Peace also trains farmers in modern agricultural practices, from planting and harvesting to marketing through international exports.
The 2Blades-SoAR discussion featured experts throughout the agriculture innovation chain, each of whom shared examples of programs with demonstrated benefits in the field. Examples featured were (i) the orange-fleshed sweet potato – a vitamin A-enhanced variety which now makes up 40% of the market in Mozambique, (ii) short-stature corn – a climate-smart variety that withstands heavy winds and drought, (iii) a strong soy value chain in Africa focusing on profitability for smallholder farmers, and (iv) soy varieties that withstand the leading soy disease in field trials in Brazil. Further examples of new tools and innovations in the pipeline were also discussed.
“This event highlighted the importance of research and development in increasing the supply of safe, healthy food, improving the livelihoods of farmers, increasing resilience, and providing climate-smart solutions for a growing planet,” stated Karl Anderson, President of SoAR. “A clear takeaway is that investment in R&D is crucial for the future of agricultural productivity and sustainability.”
Panelists emphasized that there is good progress in delivering innovation; discovery platforms are getting better and faster and are being applied to more crops – even underutilized and traditional crops, regulatory systems are improving, with new approvals coming along for transgenic and edited crops, and African countries like Kenya are making significant strides to support innovation. One area that has lagged in the global South is technical capacity. Despite gains in training of scientists, more training and especially more jobs are critical for strengthening regional capacity and adopting new technologies. Effective partnerships are esssential.
2Blades is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization dedicated to the discovery, advancement, and delivery of environmentally responsible, long-lasting solutions to crop disease by merging cutting-edge science discovery with delivery in the field. 2Blades establishes and manages development programs addressing significant unsolved crop disease problems in collaboration with leading research institutions around the world and manages a portfolio of specific traits and enabling technologies that it implements in its own programs and out-licenses for broad use. 2Blades is headquartered in Evanston, IL, with research labs in Norwich, UK and St. Paul, MN, and offices in Chapel Hill, NC and Zurich, Switzerland.
ABOUT SoAR FOUNDATION
The Supporters of Agricultural Research (SoAR) Foundation champions food and agricultural research for sustainable, thriving farms and a food-secure world. Founded in 2014 by Dr. William Danforth, SoAR is a national nonprofit organization that champions research and innovation to solve agriculture’s most pressing challenges. Through advocacy, policy, and research, SoAR finds solutions to ensure a future where agricultural productivity, sustainability, and food security are guaranteed.