A Vision for Crop Improvement and Food Security in a Changing Climate
An estimated 690 million people—approximately one out of every eleven people on Earth—are undernourished, and this number is expected to increase as the global population expands from 7.9 billion to a predicted 8.5 billion in 2030. To satisfy the growing demand for food, a projected 70% increase in global agricultural production will be required by 2050. This demand is compounded by the climate crisis, which is projected to increase global temperatures by 1-2°C, from the pre-industrial level, by 2050. For every 1°C increase, the global yields of the three major cereals— rice, wheat, and maize— are expected to decrease by 3-7%. The world’s rural poor, who depend on agriculture for their food and livelihood, will be the hardest hit.
Applications of genomics offer the promise of addressing these challenges by transforming breeding strategies, advancing genetic gains, and increasing the productivity of plant and animal species. This can only be achieved if the lessons learned from cutting-edge science are translated for development impact. Join this webinar to hear more about scientific opportunities to improve staple cereals in a changing climate.
Research Community of Practice Lead
USAID Bureau for Resilience and Food Security
Dr. Nora Lapitan is the Lead for the Research Community of Practice in the Bureau for Resilience and Food Security at USAID. In this role, she oversees the bureau’s Feed the Future research portfolio. She also leads the Input Systems Division within the Center of Agriculture Led Growth, which supports the development of innovations and technologies from agriculture research and the creation of delivery pathways for those innovations. Nora Lapitan was a Professor at Colorado State University, where she led a research program to understand the genetics of economically important traits in cereal crops. Prior to joining USAID, she served as Program Director at the National Science Foundation. Nora Lapitan has received many awards for her contributions in research, including the 2020 USAID award for Science and Technology, Distinguished Scholar Award from the Agronomic Science Foundation, Plenary speaker for the Betty Klepper Endowed Lectureship at the 2020 Crop Science Society of America meeting. She is an elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Crop Science Society of America, and the American Society of Agronomy.
Global Head of Seeds2B
The Syngenta Foundation for Sustain able Agriculture (SFSA)
Tony is the Global Head of Seeds2B for The Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture (SFSA) based in Nairobi, Kenya. Seeds2B is SFSA’s seeds stream that helps farmers access quality, affordable seeds of improved varieties for the crops they need. Tony leads the strategy and long-term planning for Seeds2B in Africa and Asia, including exploring new institutional arrangements for scaling and developing new partnerships. He is also the Chief of Party for the USAID-funded Partnerships for Seed Technology Transfer in Africa (PASTTA) program. Tony has a strong background in seeds and business development and previously worked at Bayer (formerly Monsanto) as the Sub Saharan Africa Regional Lead where he was responsible for developing and implementing Monsanto’s smallholder strategic growth plan for Sub-Sahara Africa for maize seed and crop protection businesses. He has also worked in the horticultural value chain for FRIGOKEN in Kenya where he led the company’s global business development efforts. Additionally, he has worked extensively in the USA leading various initiatives in sustainable food packaging solutions. He holds a bachelor’s degree in International Business from USIU-Africa and an MBA in Global Business Development from the Lake Forest Graduate School of Management in Chicago, IL.
CIMMYT’s Global Wheat Program
Alison Bentley is the director of CIMMYT’s Global Wheat Program. Her research combines genetics and genomics to develop and deliver new tools and technology to improve plant breeding, crop production and adaptation to climate change. At CIMMYT, Alison leads a team of scientists using scientific approaches to develop improved wheat germplasm. This germplasm captures packages of traits providing productivity, resilience, and broad adaptation, supporting global wheat improvement and smallholder livelihoods. Prior to joining CIMMYT in November 2020, Alison worked in the UK focused on translation of fundamental scientific breakthroughs into tangible impacts for the agri-food sector. She has a doctorate in agricultural science and PhD in agriculture from The University of Sydney, Australia.
Associate Professor of Crop Quantitative Genomics
Colorado State University
Geoff Morris is an associate professor of crop quantitative genomics at Colorado State University, working to understand and improve crop adaptation (www.CropAdaptation.org). The Morris lab focuses on climate resilience in sorghum and its relatives, mapping the genomic variants that underlie crop adaptation and developing new approaches to understand and predict climate resilience. To accelerate the development of better-adapted sorghum varieties, the lab works with many breeding programs around the world, serving both smallholder and commercial growers. Trait-predictive markers developed by his lab are being used routinely by breeding programs in West Africa, Haiti, and the US. As principal investigator on several projects for USAID Sorghum Millet Innovation Lab (SMIL), he has helped build NARS-led breeding networks in West Africa and implement genomics-enabled breeding in West Africa and Haiti. As Trait Discovery lead for USAID Innovation Lab for Crop Improvement (ILCI) he has developed training material to empower NARS scientists with the scientific method (www.GoHy.org). He is originally trained in evolutionary genomics (PhD, Ecology & Evolution, University of Chicago) and integrative plant biology (postdoc, UChicago/Argonne), and previously held faculty positions at University of South Carolina and Kansas State University. Starting in 2022, he will lead the sorghum component of a major new initiative supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on allele mining for climate change adaptation.
Director of Partnerships, Seeds & Traits Business Development for LMICs
Mark leads Bayer’s collaborations with public-private partnership projects to get innovative improved seeds and traits to smallholder farmers to improve food security and rural livelihoods in low- and middle-income countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. The WEMA (Water Efficient Maize for Africa) project is one of the signature projects he leads to develop new drought-tolerant and insect pest-protected maize hybrids and provide the technology royalty-free. It helps build technical capacity in Africa to use conventional and molecular breeding as well as biotechnology, and helps improve seed systems to deliver better quality seed to smallholder farmers.
Mark has held multiple roles at the company leading the introduction of new innovative seeds and traits varieties from Bayer’s R&D pipeline. He has previously held roles as the Europe & Africa Marketing Lead; the Global Cotton Product Manager and the Director of Trait Marketing at Corn States. His background includes experience in biotech research; many aspects of managing seed business development as well as the grain export business. He has a B.S. from Iowa State University, a M.S. in Genetics from the University of California at Davis, and an MBA from Drake University.
Professor of Predictive Breeding in the Department of Horticultural Sciences
University of Florida
Charlie Messina is Professor of Predictive Breeding in the Department of Horticultural Sciences at the University of Florida. His program focuses on the development of prediction methods for agriculture and horticulture, with a strong emphasis on genome-to-phenome modeling for prediction of properties of complex traits, improvement of crop adaptation to current and future climates, and enablement of circularity in horticulture. The program operates in close collaboration with Plant Breeders to evaluate and apply novel prediction methods within operational breeding programs, and to train a next generation of Plant Breeders. During his tenure at Corteva he contributed to the development of drought tolerant maize in the US and Brazil, design of nitrogen management decision support systems, and led the initiative on Circular Agriculture.