June 6, 2013 – MUSCLE SHOALS, Ala., USA – The board of advisors (BoA) for the Virtual Fertilizer Research Center (VFRC) took part in video interviews during its 2012 annual meeting. These interviews, which have been added to the VFRC and IFDC websites (www.vfrc.org and www.ifdc.org), emphasize the urgent need for rapid, goal-oriented research and development in new fertilizer technologies and improved agricultural practices.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, about 1.2 billion people in the developing world lack enough food to maintain healthy and productive lifestyles. This is more than the combined populations of North America and the European Union. No significant advancement in fertilizer technology has been made in the last 40 years in relation to targeted efficiency, affordability or environmental sensitivity. With the population projected to increase to over 9 billion by 2050, it is more important than ever to ‘fast track’ the development of more efficient and effective fertilizer and cropping technologies that will dramatically increase food production and stave off malnutrition and hunger over the next four decades.
The VFRC was established in 2010 by IFDC and key partners as a coordinating research initiative – operated in a virtual setting – to foster the creation of the next generation of fertilizers and production technologies to meet the food demands of the world’s growing population and provide sustainable food security solutions. The VFRC is bringing together universities, public and private research laboratories, the global fertilizer and agribusiness industries and individual scientists and entrepreneurs to cooperate on rapidly deployable agricultural production solutions under a unified research agenda. VFRC funding to these research groups and individuals is provided in the form of grants backed by national and international donors.
“We think it is important in this early stage of the VFRC’s efforts that the public is able to hear directly from its board members,” said Dr. Jimmy Cheek, chairman of the BoA and chancellor of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, USA. “The board is comprised of experts from a variety of disciplines – academia, research institutes, non-governmental organizations, government development agencies and international agricultural producer organizations, among others. They all have slightly different perspectives on increasing agricultural production, and that diversity shows through in the interview series.”
According to Dr. Amit Roy, IFDC president and CEO and founder of the VFRC, the interview series is the beginning of what will soon be a number of creative avenues to disseminate the VFRC message into the mainstream. “We have to distribute our information in ways that match today’s media consumption habits, because the VFRC’s mission and the good that it is doing are too important to be lost in the media landscape.”
The following BoA members were interviewed:
- Dr. Jimmy Cheek, chairman of the BoA and chancellor of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
- Sanjib Choudhuri, former VFRC executive director (2011-2013).
- Dr. Marco Ferroni, member of the Science Committee and executive director of the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture.
- Assétou Kanouté, member of the Commercialization Committee and assistant professor at the Polytechnic Institute for Rural and Applied Research at the University of Mali.
- Luc Maene, member of the Commercialization Committee and former director general of the International Fertilizer Industry Association (IFA).
- Peter McPherson, member of the Executive Committee, chairman of the IFDC board of directors and president of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU).
- Honorable Professor Ruth Oniang’o, member of the Executive Committee and chair of the Sasakawa Africa Association.
- Dr. Rudy Rabbinge, chairman of the Science Committee and former chair of the Science Council of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).
- Dr. Renfang Shen, director general of the Institute of Soil Science, Chinese Academy of Sciences (ISSCA).
- Dr. A.K. Singh, deputy director general of the Natural Resource Management Division of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research.
- Ajay Vashee, member of the VFRC Science Committee and president of the former International Federation of Agricultural Producers.
Based in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, USA, IFDC is a public international organization, governed by an international board of directors with representation from developed and developing countries. The nonprofit Center, with over 700 employees in more than 35 countries in Africa and Eurasia, is supported by various bilateral and multilateral aid agencies, private foundations and national governments.
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