The World Food Prize Foundation

The Borlaug Blog

The Triple C's (COVID, Conflict, Climate) and More: Shocks, Recovery and Regeneration

By Meghan Holloran

COVID-19, climate change and conflict, known in the World Food Prize Foundation community as the three Cs - have been central to food and agriculture conversations as key influences in the pursuit of food security. They were also the focus of the first roundtable at the 2022 Borlaug International Dialogue, which kicked off on October 18 in Des Moines, Iowa.

Nine experts representing farmers, governments and private and nonprofit entities participated in the roundtable discussion.

Kees Huizinga, a farmer in Ukraine with the Global Farmer Network, spoke about his experience and ongoing struggles due to the conflict. 

“We were supposed to have corn close to harvest near Kyiv, but we can’t harvest because missiles are flying over our cornfield,” Huizinga said. 

Amid geopolitical stressors, political leaders are imperative to ensuring the implementation of effective food security policies and the devotion of resources to feeding a fragile world. 

Assistant Secretary Ramin Toloui from the U.S. State Department Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs spoke about ensuring food security challenges are at the top of the diplomatic agenda.

Other panelists, including Liisa Safarian, President and Chief Operating Officer of Pivot Bio, and Alanna Koch, Board Chair at the Global Institute for Food Security, discussed the changes needed in order to grapple with the changing climate. 

“We need more, different, better nitrogen sources, inputs and seeds,” Safarian said. “We need all of those things in order to use fewer resources to feed the world in a softer, kinder way.”

Safarian explained that farmers are constantly looking for ways to innovate at every level - from planting to growing and harvesting. The panelists overall agreed that better and more accessible technologies are needed to advance food security. 

Koch hammered home the importance of valuing both food security and sustainability. She spoke about techniques that work on her farm in Saskatchewan, Canada, but emphasized that different contexts require unique solutions and techniques for long-term success.

Arun Baral, CEO of Harvest Plus, discussed the strengths of our current food system, emphasizing HarvestPlus’s success in breeding more nutrient-dense crops, giving the example of high-zinc wheat crops for smallholder farms in Pakistan.

“Food needs to be nutritious,” Baral said. “We have to eat healthy food, and in the process of yields and production, we somehow forgot about it.” 

Various speakers ended the panel with their own signature call to action. Geoff Graham, Vice President of Seed Product Development at Corteva Agriscience, encouraged the regulation of new technologies to ensure they are well-utilized, while Toloui urged young people to get involved and focus on these key issues.

Full list of roundtable speakers:

  • Arun Baral, Chief Executive Officer, HarvestPlus
  • Robert Coviello, Chief Sustainability Officer & Government Affairs, Bunge
  • Dhanush Dinesh, Founder, Clim-Eat, 
  • Geoff Graham, Vice President of Seed Product Development, Corteva Agriscience
  • Kees Huizinga, Farmer - Ukraine, Global Farmer Network
  • Alanna Koch,  Board Chair, Global Institute for Food Security 
  • Lisa Safarian, President & Chief Executive Officer, PivotBio
  • Ramin Toloui, Assistant Secretary for Economic and Business Affairs, U.S. Department of State, and
  • Priscilla Trinh, Council of Advisors, World Food Prize Foundation

Meghan Holloran is a sophomore at Drake University studying journalism and environmental science. She was a George Washington Carver intern at the World Food Prize Foundation in the summer of 2022.

10/18/2022 9:30 PM
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