University of Nebraska, Food and Agriculture Organization to partner on water and food security efforts

July 5, 2012

The University of Nebraska’s Robert B. Daugherty Water for Food Institute and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations – an international leader in the fight against hunger – have signed an agreement to partner on research and education efforts in water and food security.

NU President James B. Milliken and FAO Deputy Director General of Knowledge Ann Tutwiler signed the Memorandum of Understanding this week in Rome, Italy, where FAO is headquartered. The signing ceremony was part of two days of meetings and consultations between NU and FAO officials, including a meeting between Milliken and FAO Director General Jose Graziano da Silva, and a seminar on water and food security presented by Milliken and Roberto Lenton, founding executive director of the Daugherty Institute.

“The University of Nebraska and the Food and Agriculture Organization have worked together many times in the past and I could not be more pleased that we are taking our partnership to the next level,” Milliken said. “FAO’s network and influence at the international level is unrivaled and the opportunity to tap into these resources will be highly beneficial for the University and Nebraska. In return, the work of the Daugherty Institute will support in a unique way FAO’s critical efforts to sustainably meet the nutritional needs of a growing population.”

The partnership between the Daugherty Institute and FAO will focus on areas including:

  • Sustainably increasing crop yields and water productivity using mapping, modeling and information systems such as the Global Yield Gap Atlas, NU’s initiative to provide estimates of the gap between current average farm yields and the potential yield ceiling for major food crops; and AQUASTAT, FAO’s global information system on water and agriculture.

  • Improving drought management and climate adaptation through drought monitoring programs, development of risk-based drought preparedness strategies and policies, and stronger drought warning systems to better cope with water scarcity in a changing climate.

  • Improving sustainable production under drought, stress and water-limited conditions through plant breeding, agronomic practices, crop physiology, biotechnology and molecular biology – and, ultimately, through effective dissemination of new knowledge for application by farmers and others.
Initial activities will include regular information exchanges, joint research projects and joint workshops, conferences and symposia which will complement FAO’s frequent global meetings on water, food and agriculture and NU’s annual Water for Food Conference. The university and FAO will develop annual workplans that outline more specific activities.

“FAO attaches high value to the Memorandum of Understanding with the University of Nebraska’s Water for Food Institute,” said Pasquale Steduto, deputy director of FAO’s land and water division and a plenary speaker at NU’s 2011 Water for Food Conference. “We share the same basic goals and we carry out complementary work in critical areas of mutual interest – including, among others, increasing the productivity of water under water-scarcity conditions.”

FAO works to achieve global food security so that people have access to enough high-quality food to lead active, healthy lives. In both developed and developing countries, FAO helps to raise levels of nutrition, improve agricultural productivity, improve the quality of life in rural populations, and contribute to global economic growth.

The Daugherty Institute was established in 2010 with a $50 million founding gift from the Robert B. Daugherty Charitable Foundation. It is a research, education and policy institute that aims to help the world use its limited freshwater resources effectively to ensure sustainable food security for current and future generations.


Media Contact:
Melissa Lee
Director of Communications,
University of Nebraska