Purdue research teams receive awards to address food security issues

Published: April 18, 2012

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Four Purdue research teams aspiring to improve food sources around the world received $30,000 grants from the university's Global Policy Research Institute in partnership with the university's Center for Global Food Security.

"The researchers were selected for these project start-up funds because their work shows promise of informing policymakers of viable options for addressing international food security issues," said Arden Bement, director of the Global Policy Research Institute, also known as GPRI. "Purdue has an excellent reputation in agriculture and food security, and this series of grants makes it possible for faculty experts from several disciplines to work together in addressing a significant global challenge area."

The Global Policy Research Institute and the Center for Global Food Security are working in partnership on this global food security initiative. The Global Policy Research Institute, which is part of Purdue's "New Synergies" strategic plan, focuses on the university's strengths in science, information technology, data management and systems engineering in collaboration with economics and the social sciences to address critical issues such as poverty and climate change in a systemic way. The goals of the Center for Global Food Security, under the direction of 2009 World Food Prize winner Gebisa Ejeta, are to conduct research in areas such as climate change and nutrition that relate to food security in developing countries.

The four $30,000 incentive grants were awarded to:

* Thomas W. Hertel, distinguished professor of agriculture. This funding will cover the cost of preparing for and hosting an international workshop of leading scientists from Europe, Asia, and North and South America to initiate a pilot project aimed at improving the global spatial database infrastructure needed to understand the linkages among agriculture, climate change and economic development. The first day of the workshop, which is May 23 and 24, will be open to the Purdue community.

* Klein Ileleji, associate professor of agricultural and biological engineering. The goal of this research is to address problems associated with postharvest losses and mycotoxins for maize, one of the major staple food crops in sub-Saharan Africa. Some of the project's objectives include developing an improved low-cost crop dryer and cooker for rural homestead cooking and drying, as well as developing a low-cost sensing technology for moisture content. The team will pursue the project in the grain value chain in Ghana.

* Betty Bugusu, managing director of International Food Technology Center. The goals of the study are to better understand the status of the agricultural supply chains of local food crops in East Africa from production to markets. The project's objectives are to identify and develop a value chain that is economically, culturally and technologically feasible to enhance food security and promote economic growth in the region.

* Abdelfattah M. Nour, professor of basic medical sciences in the School of Veterinary Medicine. The goals of this study are to improve animal health and productivity for poor African families. Some of the project's objectives include working with local community members to understand animal husbandry issues, while improving animal health and veterinary services for domestic goats and sheep.

"The incentive awards are designed to catalyze these interdisciplinary teams and give them the opportunity to develop comprehensive proposals for submission to major funding agencies and foundations," said Angela Phillips Diaz, the institute's managing director. "Food security is a global challenge that has a direct impact locally, nationally and globally. Purdue's researchers are on the cutting edge of this vitally important issue. Through incentive award grants such as these, the Global Policy Research Institute will enrich research at Purdue, increase the visibility of our researchers findings and ultimately enhance the impact of our discoveries for the common good."

In January the Global Policy Research Institute announced its first series of awarded grants, which support a variety of projects including disaster recovery, diabetes management, cancer prevention and sustainability. The newly formed institute also is developing a master's certificate in public policy; participation in an interdisciplinary internship program in public policy; and a master's degree in public policy and public administration.

Writer: Amy Patterson Neubert, 765-494-9723, apatterson@purdue.edu

Sources: Arden Bement, 765-496-6713, bement@purdue.edu

Angela Phillips Diaz, 765-496-6765, apdiaz@purdue.edu

Thomas W. Hertel, 765-494-4199, hertel@purdue.edu

Klein Ileleji, 765-494-1198, ileleji@purdue.edu

Betty Bugusu, 765-494-3626, bbugusu@purdue.edu

Abdelfattah M. Nour, 765-494-5136, nour@purdue.edu