While the drought continues to raise issues with local food growth, the world hunger problem is on its way to becoming a much bigger issue.
Gary Burniske, managing director of the Purdue Center for Global Food Security, helped establish the Borlaug Summer Institute on Global Food Security. This is a two week training session held at Purdue for some of the world’s brightest students to help fight the hunger problem, which is progressively growing at an exponential rate.
“The students are top notch,” Burniske said. “This institute is for U.S. and international students to provide them with a multidisciplinary approach to tackling the grand challenges that are associated with food security around the world.”
According to Burniske, food security is the ability of foods to meet a person’s needs in order for them to have a productive lifestyle.
The students in the program get to have seminars with some of the world’s top food security specialists, such as Gebisa Ejeta, distinguished professor and the 2009 World Food Prize Laureate. Burniske said the experts are providing information on some of the developments and challenges in food security.
“Those challenges include climate change, energy, water and some other areas such as policy, nutrient health and population,” Burniske said. “What the experts are doing is providing them with the trends in each one of their areas and how those trends affect food security ... and brainstorming possible interventions for overcoming the constraints from those different sectors.”
Burniske said limiting the factors of those constraints can help stop the hunger problem.
“We want to look at what are those constraints that are impeding food security in why people aren’t getting enough food to eat,” Burniske said. “We want to look at which ones are the limiting factors and tackle them and go down the line one-by-one to overcome these different constraints.”
Though students are all working toward the same goal, they come from different backgrounds. Ian Pope, a graduate student, is in the program studying soil conservation, soil fertility and how to reduce soil erosion with sustainable agriculture. He knows the significance of a program such as this and the action needed to take place much sooner than most people believe.
“It’s quite daunting while looking at food security and how urgent it really is now,” Pope said. “Not in like 50-100 years, but by 2030, we should be running into big problems.”
Pope knows his role in the fight against world hunger. He said everyone needs to work together in order to try to resolve a problem as large as this.
“You need to bring people from a variety of backgrounds and solve it as a team,” Pope said. “You can’t try to do everything yourself ... Everyone has to compromise what they want in order to try to solve this.”
While the task may be disheartening, Pope believes that more than anything, everyone needs to stay confident.
“It’s so easy to be like ‘We’re in big trouble,’ but you have a certain set of skills and try to do what you can with the skills and keep an open mind,” Pope said. “You have to be optimistic.”