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Seed Security a Top Issue at World Food Prize Forum

Seed is hope.

Seed is just the start of ensuring enough food for Africans, according to a panel of agriculture experts at the World Food Prize in Des Moines, Iowa, that kicked off on Tuesday, Oct. 13.

Africa needs to grow three times as much food as today in order to nourish its people, according to Monty Jones, a special adviser to the president of Sierra Leone. That is made more difficult because of "fake seed,” or outdated varieties of indigenous crops that don’t carry the essential traits to grow crops successfully.

In fact, according to Dr. Jones, small-scale and family farms – the most prevalent in Africa – continue to use the same seeds that they used 20 years ago.


He, along with Kenneth Ayuko, the former deputy director for policy development coordination in the Ministry of Agriculture in Kenya, said that Africa needs a new commitment to help feed the 1 billion people around the globe who go to bed hungry every day. A realistic plan needs to include:

  • Systems to distribute and ensure “pure seeds” for farmers.
  • GMO crops – they are essential to growing enough food, Ayuko said.
  • Government policies that promote agriculture – especially for women. 

The “Seed Security for Food Security” program, a daylong event sponsored by DuPont, was held at the World Food Prize in downtown Des Moines.  It also included presentations on the Global Food Security Index, by Lucy Hurst, and a presentation by Edward Mabaya, from Cornell University, on the African Seed Access Index.  The program is part of a week of discussions and presentations on food, agriculture, and food research from hundreds of people from around the globe.

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