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K-State Today

October 17, 2018

K-Staters among panelists addressing global food and nutritional security

Submitted by Kelsey Tully

Faculty and staff in K-State's Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Sustainable Intensification, or SIIL, will be among the panelists discussing the role of youth in food production systems and decreasing global hunger during the World Food Prize in Des Moines, Iowa.

Jan Middendorf, associate director of SIIL, will moderate the panel, which will take place on Thursday, Oct. 18, at the downtown Des Moines Marriott hotel.

Vara Prasad, university distinguished professor and director of SIIL, and Zachary Stewart, research assistant professor, are among the panelists, which brings scholars from Senegal, Cambodia and the United States.

The event will highlight how institutions can facilitate partnerships and provide opportunities to engage youth in global agriculture.

SIIL is one of four innovation labs housed at Kansas State University and funded through the U.S. Agency for International Development's food security initiative, Feed the Future. Empowering youth and engaging them in agriculture helps to meet the goals of Feed the Future program. Active involvement of youth also is critical to meet the sustainable development goals of the United Nations Development Programme. 

Middendorf notes that one third of the world's population is between the ages of 15 and 34, and nearly 80 percent of these youth live in developing countries. She said that the largest youth populations live in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, where underemployment of youth is at its highest.

"These regions also have a significant percentage of their population that are food insecure, poor and malnourished," Prasad said. "We need to effectively utilize the energy of youth to address the grand challenge of increasing food production and addressing global food and nutritional security."

The panel that Prasad and Stewart are part of will take place during the week's activities leading up to the announcement of the 2018 World Food Prize.

For more information about SIIL, visit k-state.edu/siil.

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