Delaware Public Media

Food security issues party of Nature Conservancy's TEDx talks

Mar 17, 2015

The Nature Conservancy presented the TEDx Wilmington talks at Winterthur Museum for its 25th anniversary last Friday.

One of the three speakers providing their perspective on conservation was Jim Borel, vice president of DuPont, who spoke about global food security.

According to a report released last fall by the United Nations, more than 800 million people in the world suffer from malnutrition.

Borel noted that, surprisingly, many of the malnourished are farmers, especially small-scale, subsistence farmers.

“If we’re going to solve the food security problem for the world, it has to start with those farmers and help them produce enough to feed themselves and then become commercially viable.”

DuPont Pioneer, which is DuPont’s hybrid seed business, already sells its products all over Africa. In spring of 2013, the company launched an initiative called AMSAP -- Advancement of Maize Seed Adoption Program -- to work directly with the Ethiopian maize farmers. Borel says it’s been a challenge to provide all of these farmers with the education, technology and resources necessary to improve food security in their country.

“It’s a huge task because there are so many farmers, it’s difficult to get the seeds to them and also the education to them.”

Borel presented some of the achievements of the program over the past couple of years and expressed hope that AMSAP can be used as a model to promote sustainable agricultural practices in other countries.

Borel is also concerned about the waning interest in agriculture among young people. He says inspiring young Ethiopians to take an active part in promoting food security is one of DuPont Pioneer’s main priorities.

“If we can open up the minds of young people and get them to think of agriculture in a different way than just subsistence, that also can help foster the next generation of progress," said Borel.

Friday's speakers at The Nature Conservancy's 25th anniversary included Sam Calagione, founder of Dogfish Head Brewery, and Peter Kareiva, senior scientist at the Nature Conservancy.