Changing the world through agricultural research
“Our 21st century economy can focus on agriculture, not information.” –James Howard Kunstler
Human civilization depends on the products and values of agriculture. Thousands of years ago, when our wandering ancestors decided to establish a civilization and grow their own food, the very essence of humanity matured and transformed. It marked a turning point in history; a time when villages, towns and cities began to truly flourish. This was the beginning of economic growth and the birth of the culture of knowledge.
While scientists can trace agriculture back at least 12,000 years, the sector remains a primary driver of global financial development in modern times. Forestry, dairy, poultry, fruit growing, animal husbandry and beekeeping all fall under agriculture and form the fabric of human health and well-being. From processing and marketing to distributing crops and livestock, the agricultural profession represents a tower of strength and prosperity for a global population.
About 70 percent of the people currently inhabiting the earth depend solely on agriculture for their livelihood, with agriculture being the main source of income for most developing countries in the world. In 2016, in the United States alone, $135.5 billion of American agricultural products were exported to all corners of the globe. According to the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), a single American farm can feed 165 people a year in the United States and abroad. However, with the world population expected to reach 9.7 billion by 2050, the international agricultural industry will need to increase current agricultural production by at least 70% in order to meet our needs.
We owe human wealth and health to the success of our agricultural products. In addition to serving as a major universal employer and engine of growth, the sector fulfills a fundamental need for the survival of life on earth at the most fundamental level.
In December 2015, after two long weeks of fierce negotiations, the Paris Agreement was finally signed by the main world players. The settlement requires each party to take urgent action to reduce emissions from the agricultural sector, with the ultimate goal of reducing global warming to less than 2°.VS The document was signed at COP21 – an event that opened the door to adaptation and mitigation.
The preamble refers to all aspects of the agricultural challenge – including human rights, gender, ecosystems and biodiversity – in addition to acknowledging “the importance of conservation and enhancement” of the world natural. In addition to making a colossal leap towards achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris Agreement is a monumental achievement in terms of agricultural research and development (R&D).
But why is R&D so essential in the global agricultural trade?
“In addition to developing technologies, there is a need to strengthen the evidence base to understand what works in [a] particular geographical and institutional context and to use this knowledge to guide policy-making”, writes the European Commission. “In order to achieve the development goals of EU policies on resilience, food security and nutrition, investments in public goods such as knowledge are needed at global, regional and national levels.
“There is evidence, both at the macro level and through case studies, that investing in ARD contributes to food security and poverty reduction,” adds the Commission. “Published estimates for the developing world indicate an average return on investment of 43% per year for ARD. They also suggest that around 27 million people are lifted out of poverty each year in Asia and Africa through research-led agricultural growth.
The College of Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences (CASNR) at Texas Tech University actively contributes to agricultural R&D. As a world-renowned institution, CASNR adheres to the highest standards of teaching, investigation, and commitment, producing skilled scientists and graduates who safeguard our sustainable future.
CASNR faculty are dedicated to research, priding themselves on cultivating future studies and engineers who contribute to innovation and discovery. CASNR excels in a number of areas, with the following areas of research excellence being specifically recognized:
CASNR researchers have pushed for the systematic development and evaluation of methods of producing, processing and preparing food products for decades. Professors are currently working on pre-harvest, harvest and post-harvest strategies and technologies, with the ultimate goal of achieving a safer, higher quality and more nutritious global food supply.
Sustainable use of land and water
The need to develop long-term sustainable integrated systems is vital not only for agriculture, but also for the world’s population. The high plains of Texas represent a unique opportunity for CASNR, embodying not only one of the most intensive regions for American agricultural production, but also reflecting many of the problems faced around the world due to similarities in ecosystems. Thus, Texas Tech researchers gain valuable insight into complex global issues, analyzing how parts of a system and available resources interact and work together.
Biotechnology and genomics
These concepts were pretty much unheard of just a few decades ago, but genetically modified plants and crops now make up the majority of the country’s crops. The impact of having agricultural genome sequences cannot be overstated; this discovery could eventually pave the way for new applications to use production crops such as cotton as an important renewable resource for food, fuel and fiber.
Animal health, nutrition and welfare
The southern high plains are the heart of the American beef industry, as well as the rapidly growing pork and dairy industries. This is one of the reasons CASNR researchers focus so much on the biology, production, management, care and value-added processing of animal products.
CASNR holds a global footprint that extends to more than 80 international projects in 42 countries. Additionally, the college offers many opportunities for students to study abroad through faculty-led programs. Some study abroad programs require students to enroll in a specific course or semester – find out more information here.
Groundbreaking discoveries from institutions like Texas Tech’s CASNR have already improved the lives of millions, while graduates go on to forge meaningful careers in business, industry, government and nonprofit organizations. nonprofits around the world. Becoming an active member of the CASNR research community will kick-start your journey to becoming a powerful agent of change. This brings us closer to solving the biggest enduring problems facing our world today.
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