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The Robert B. Daugherty Water for Food Institute was founded in 2010 to address the global challenge of achieving food security with less pressure on water resources through improved management of water in agricultural and food systems. We are committed to ensuring a water and food secure world without compromising the use of water for other human and environmental needs. Our approach is to extend the University of Nebraska’s expertise through strong partnerships with other universities and public and private sector organizations. Together we are developing research, education and engagement programs in a focused effort to increase food security while ensuring the sustainability of water resources and agricultural systems. We work locally and internationally, bridging the water and agriculture communities and the worlds of small- and large-holder farmers to deliver innovative solutions to this complex global challenge.
Over the past 50 years, dramatic increases in agricultural productivity driven by improved crop varieties, fertilizer use and the doubling of irrigated land kept pace with population growth. While the world population grew from 2.5 billion in 1950 to 7 billion today, the irrigated area doubled and water withdrawals tripled. Now we face a population expected to increase to 9 billion by 2050, doubling the demand for food. The population not only is growing, it is growing wealthier. As wealth increases, people eat more dairy and meat, which require more water. The escalating need for agriculture to produce food, feed, fiber and fuel will exert intense pressure on the world’s water, land and energy resources.
Each year the global Water for Food Conference brings together thought leaders and experts from around the world to discuss potential solutions to the challenge of doubling our agricultural production by 2050 and doing it with less water than we use today. Our 2013 conference, “Too Hot, Too Wet, Too Dry: Building Resilient Agroecosystems,” focused on how we can increase the capacity of our food, water and natural ecosystems to adapt to a changing climate.
DWFI research grants support promising new ideas from teams of NU faculty and colleagues at other academic institutions and fund projects with our partners. Three projects are highlighted here. A Holistic Approach to Sustainable Food Security: Adaptive Watershed Management in Ethiopia. More Roots, More Water, More Yield: Root Genomics and Physiology to Enhance Water Use Efficiency. The Potential of Collaborative Governance: The Platte River Recovery Implementation Program
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