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Lessons from the past for the future of food

last modified Oct 04, 2017 05:19 PM
University's work on global food security highlighted as part of new Vice-Chancellor's inaugural address.

Bore drilling in Haryana. Image credit: Cameron Petrie

Dr Cameron Petrie and Prof Martin Jones, together with a large team of international colleagues, are using the deep history of water management and cropping regimes to help develop strategies for addressing future global food security.

With a focus upon India, they will be part of the soon to be launched TIGR2ESS project which aims to transform India's Green Revolution by Research and Empowerment for Sustainable food Supplies.  Their component of the project will look to past examples of sustainable farming practices to inform modern decision making. Case studies will include the Bronze Age Indus Civilisation and the Historic Kakatiya period.

In his inaugural address Cambridge University’s new Vice-Chancellor, Professor Stephen Toope, highlighted the university’s work on global food security, stressing the importance and value of the sciences and humanities working together, as will happen within TIGR2ESS.

"Consider the problems of global food security. Tackling them requires the combined efforts of engineers, geographers and mathematicians collaboratively developing tools to predict future demands for energy, land and water.

It requires plant scientists and veterinary scientists collaborating with colleagues across the world to improve crop yields and livestock resilience to disease.

It requires researchers in the humanities and social sciences analysing the political economy of food supply, and evaluating the role of political structures in the production and distribution of food.

It requires greater understanding of the regulatory frameworks of land ownership, or the economics of changes in land-use.

For the University of Cambridge, which sees it as part of its mission to actively confront issues like these, one of the greatest difficulties is that we must constantly be prepared to deal with newly emerging questions that we did not know had to be answered." -Professor Stephen Toope, 346th Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge.

TIGR2ESS (Transforming India’s Green Revolution by Research and Empowerment for Sustainable food Supplies) is a collaboration between the UK and India and is funded by the Global Challenges Research Fund.



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