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Thomas Lumpkin

With the global population expected to approach 9 billion by 2050 and climate change altering agricultural conditions, the world is “entering a perfect storm of challenges to global food security,” according to Thomas Lumpkin, an international expert in sustainable agricultural development who will speak at University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa on Monday, November 10, 4 p.m. in the Architecture Auditorium 205.

Lumpkin, UH Mānoa’s 2014 College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR) Outstanding Alumnus of the Year, will discuss “Global Food Security by 2050: Challenges and Opportunities” in a free public talk.

In addition to population growth and climate change, challenges to food security include changing diets, rising prices, depletion of natural resources, soil degradation and erosion, falling water tables and urban-rural competition for surface water, Lumpkin says. But promising technologies can help address the threat.

According to the United Nations, one in nine people worldwide do not have enough to eat. Yet global food production is increasing by a mere 1 percent per year, far behind the 70 percent increase needed to keep pace with population growth.

“Dr. Lumpkin’s report from the front lines in the developing world is particularly relevant in Hawaiʻi, where the cost of living, competition for resources and dependence on imported food creates our own concerns about food security,” notes CTAHR Dean and Director Maria Gallo. “We are fortunate and proud to have a graduate of his caliber playing an important leadership role on the international stage.”

More about Lumpkin

Since 2008, Lumpkin has been director general of the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), an organization dedicated to sustainably increasing agricultural productivity to ensure global food security and reduce poverty. CIMMYT gained public attention when its chief scientist, Norman Borlaug, received the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize for launching the green revolution with a robust dwarf wheat hybrid that helped Mexico become self-sufficient in grain production and dramatically increased yields in India and Pakistan.

Under Lumpkin’s leadership, CIMMYT made the news again last year when it received $25 million from Microsoft founder Bill Gates and Mexican telecom magnate Carlos Slim to use its vast stockpile of native corn and wheat seeds from around the world to develop new varieties adapted to the emerging conditions related to climate change.

Before joining CIMMYT, Lumpkin headed the World Vegetable Center, chaired the Global Horticulture Initiative Board of Directors and was a professor of agronomy and Asian studies at Washington State University.

He attended UH Mānoa as an East-West Center grantee, earning his MS and PhD in agronomy at UH Mānoa’s College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources.

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