SEARCA participates in 2015 World Food Day Colloquium in University of Hohenheim

  • 4 December 2015

STUTTGART, Germany – The University of Hohenheim holds the World Food Day (WFD) Colloquium annually, attended by organizations and personalities from various parts of the world. SEARCA has been a participant since 2010, finding the themes of the annual colloquium of great interest and relevance to its priority thrusts.

“Grasslands – secret resource for a hungry world?” was the colloquium’s theme for 2015. Held on 16 October, the University’s WFD Colloquium was jointly organized by the Food Security Center (FSC) and the Institute of Animal Production in the Tropics and Subtropics. As emphasized at the forum, “Grasslands are the largest terrestrial ecosystem worldwide, covering a land area of approximately 52.5 million km2.They provide the ecosystem services of habitat, biodiversity conservation, grazing space for herbivores, feed stock for herds, carbon sink, fresh water filtration and storage, and climatic buffer. Indeed, grasslands have a lot to offer, particularly in terms of animal production and the provision of food to people.”

The colloquium started with setting the context through a presentation of the latest results of the Global Hunger Index and another on increasing food production from grassland resources and its implications to food security, ecology and livestock nutrition. These were followed by presentations from the various units of the University on its perspective of grasslands as a ‘sleeping giant’, the ecological footprint of grassland-based ruminant systems, the challenges to sustainable governance of grasslands, and the impact of animal based production systems on human health and nutrition.

There were two panel discussions. The first showcased the research studies of five young scientists from the University of Hohenheim and from the University of Bonn on the grasslands in their respective countries in Africa. Among these were how to maintain pastoral livelihoods in a fragile ecosystem such as grasslands, violent raids resulting from pastoralists fighting for space, Fulani pastoralists, payment for environmental services and gender issues, and a performance evaluation of reservoir-based irrigation schemes.

The second panel discussion focused on the question ‘Are Grasslands a secret resource for a hungry world?’ This was tackled by experts from Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FIBL), Switzerland, Deutsche Welthungerhilfe, International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) United Kingdom, and from the University of Hohenheim.

A highlight of the colloquium was the Justus von Liebig Award for World Nutrition 2015. This was awarded by Foundation fiat panis to the husband and wife team of Dr. Fred Rattunde and Dr. Eva Weltzien for their outstanding achievements in the agricultural and nutritional sciences, which contribute to improving world nutrition. As stated by ICRISAT, the couple has worked on “improving the nutritional qualities of sorghum for human consumption and for fodder and improving the cereal’s resistance to drought, diseases, and pests. Their work has been predominantly embedded in holistic, interdisciplinary programs in collaboration with partners from research institutes.” They have been working as scientists in ICRISAT, Mali, West Africa since 1997.

Through FSC support, SEARCA sent as participants Dr. Leonardo M. Florece, a professor from the School of Environmental Science and Management, University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB-SESAM) who is a recognized expert on grasslands, and Ms. Carmen Nyhria G. Rogel, Program Specialist at the Research and Development Department of SEARCA. (Carmen Nyhria G. Rogel)