Harnessing the Potential of Agriculture to Cope with Future Challenges

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Radio Free Asia-Vietnam-Purdue-PICS-Kibera-urban-farms-Nourishing-the-Planet-Danielle-Nierenberg-State-of-the-WorldAs climate change takes hold, populations continue to grow, and food prices escalate, many people around the world—especially those in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa—are pushed into chronic hunger. “Agriculture is often blamed as one of the causes of environmental problems. But we are trying to highlight how agriculture is a solution to many of the world’s pressing challenges,” says Danielle.

Focusing on agriculture offers tremendous potential to reduce food waste, effectively manage water resources, and mitigate climate change. And instead of focusing on increasing production, we should invest in making better use of the food we already produce. Between 20-50 percent of the harvest is lost worldwide before it even reaches the table.

Danielle discusses how farmers in Niger are working with researchers at Purdue University to protect their cowpea harvests—a staple food crop and important source of protein in West Africa. The Purdue Improved Cowpea Storage bags, or PICS, are hermetically sealed, and prevent contamination by pests. This type of low-cost innovation is helping farmers in Niger save around $255 million per year. And the extra income means that they families eat better and they can send their children to school.

In this interview with Radio Free Asia, Danielle Nierenberg, Nourishing the Planet co-project director highlights some of the ways that agriculture can help cope with environmental challenges, while also reducing poverty.

Danielle Nierenberg
Danielle Nierenberg, an expert on livestock and sustainability, currently serves as Project Director of State of World 2011 for the Worldwatch Institute, a Washington, DC-based environmental think tank. Her knowledge of factory farming and its global spread and sustainable agriculture has been cited widely in the New York Times Magazine, the International Herald Tribune, the Washington Post, and
other publications.

Danielle worked for two years as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Dominican Republic. She is currently traveling across Africa looking at innovations that are working to alleviate hunger and poverty and blogging everyday at Worldwatch Institute's Nourishing the Planet. She has a regular column with the Mail & Guardian, the Kansas City Star, and the Huffington Post and her writing was been featured in newspapers across Africa including the Cape Town Argus, the Zambia Daily Mail, Coast Week (Kenya), and other African publications. She holds an M.S. in agriculture, food, and environment from Tufts University and a B.A. in environmental policy from Monmouth College.
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