Multidisciplinary effort tackles global food insecurity
The new Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Crop Improvement (ILCI) will support multidisciplinary expertise at the cutting-edge of agricultural development focused on tackling the global challenges of climate change, poverty and food security. The lab features experts in plant breeding, machine learning, quantitative genetics, gender inclusion and other disciplines.
Stephen Kresovich, the Robert and Lois Coker Trustees Endowed Chair of Genetics in Clemson’s plant and environmental sciences department, has been named director of the laboratory, and Dil Thavarajah, Clemson associate professor of pulse crop quality and nutrition, will co-lead the lab’s trait analysis team.
The ILCI is a collaboration between Kansas State University, Cornell University and Clemson and will be based in Cornell’s International Programs in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
The project will support and empower national breeding programs in East and West Africa, South Asia, and Latin America and serve as a model for introducing advanced agricultural technologies at scale to countries around the world. The project is funded by a five-year, $25 million grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development, as part of the U.S. government’s Feed the Future initiative.
“We are in a critical point in history where booming population growth, climate change and other environmental factors are exposing threats of global food insecurity at an unprecedented scale,” Kresovich said. “Improved varieties of key food crops are one of the surest avenues to reducing risks from economic, environmental and climatic shocks for millions of people in vulnerable and resource-poor populations.”