Published on 04/19/17

CAES students challenged to devise new ways to feed more people with less land and resources

By Merritt Melancon

Between the 1970s and the 1990s, farmers helped to reduce the number of people on earth suffering from hunger from one-third to one-tenth of the world’s population. Even now, there is work to be done to address worldwide hunger.

Students and faculty of the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) gathered Tuesday at the college’s seventh annual International Agriculture Day reception to celebrate a commitment to the international cooperation and scholarship that will be needed to further reduce this number.

“The challenge we face is to figure out how to feed the 9 billion people who will be on this planet in 2050,” CAES Dean and Director Sam Pardue said. “And we need to figure it out in a way that not only provides the nutrition that is so badly needed but in a way that protects the environment and protects natural resources.

“It is our goal in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences to help equip students to meet that need in the future.”

Keynote speaker J. Scott Angle, president and chief executive officer of the International Fertilizer Development Center, told students that the key to increasing food supplies in this century will be sustainable intensification, growing more food on less farmland with fewer environmental impacts.

That will be possible through improved soil health, smarter fertilizer use and crops that are bred to be more resilient and water efficient, he said.

Smallholder farmers, who produce the bulk of the food in developing nations in Africa and Southeast Asia, need access to appropriate fertilizers and technologies that allow them to leverage the resources available in their countries and communities.

“It’s not going to be easy, as I said. If it were easy, someone would have already done it,” Angle said. “But that’s the challenge that you will face, to find ways to grow more food on the same or maybe even less land, and maybe even less water. That’s the challenge that universities have in this country. It’s the challenge that African universities are facing. It’s the challenge that governments in Africa and Asia face. They need to encourage more food production to feed their hungry populations.”

With improved soil health practices that keep more organic matter in the soil, soil testing, and the availability of micronutrient amendments like zinc, smallholder farmers could increase their yields and act as a carbon sink. Agriculture’s untapped ability to sequester carbon in the soil could help African governments pay for outreach, education and subsidy programs that could lead to these more productive farms, Angle said.

These are the types of solutions that students and faculty members gathered at Tuesday’s event will develop in the coming century, he said.

The CAES Office of Global Programs, which hosts the International Agriculture Day reception each spring, honored some of the college’s most globally minded students with travel grants, scholarships and awards at the event. Students who will graduate this year with the college’s International Agriculture Certificate were also recognized.

International Agriculture Certificate 
International Agriculture Certificate students expand their global perspective by participating in internationally focused coursework, language study and a hands-on international internship aligned with their academic and career goals.

  • Anna Hartley, bachelor’s degree in agricultural education and an internship in Villahermosa, Mexico
  • Aiden Holley, bachelor’s degree in international affairs with an Organic Agriculture Certificate and an internship in Yerevan, Armenia
  • Tatum Monroe, bachelor’s degree in international affairs and horticulture minor, and an internship in Belem, Brazil
  • Sarah Pate, bachelor’s degree in biological science and an internship in Padova, Italy
  • Carleen Porter, bachelor’s degree in animal science and an internship and Perugia, Italy
  • Mary Shelley, bachelor’s degree in agricultural communication and an internship in Cluj-Napoca, Romania
  • Anna Trakhman, bachelor’s degree in environmental economics and management and Spanish minor, and an internship in Zurich, Switzerland
  • Addie Tucker, bachelor’s degree in agricultural education and an internship in Yungilla, Ecuador

Graduate International Travel Awards 
These awards will fund an international activity that supports each student’s interest in international collaboration and in global issues. The award covers round-trip airfare to an international conference or research site.

  • Benjamin Leiva, doctoral student in agricultural and applied economics
  • Haiyan Liu, doctoral candidate in agricultural and applied economics
  • Maria Fernanda Terraza Pira, doctoral candidate in crop and soil sciences

Kanemasu Global Engagement Award
This award recognizes a student who goes above and beyond in internationalizing his/her academic program at UGA.

  • Mary Shelley

Broder-Ackermann Global Citizen Award
This award recognizes a CAES undergraduate student who has embraced global citizenship through participation, promotion and leadership of international initiatives during his/her collegiate career.

  • Samaria Aluko, who is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in biological science

Agriculture Abroad Photo Contest
The Agriculture Abroad Photo Contest is open to all CAES students to encourage them to share images of agriculture from around the world.

  • First place went to Caroline Williams for the photo, “More than a Cowboy,” from Uruguay.
  • Second place to Andres Gomez for the photo, “Daughters and Mothers,” from Armenia.
  • Third place to Katrina Laurel for the photo, “Banaue Rice Terraces of the Philippines,” from the Philippines. 

To view all of the photos in the contest, please visit

For more information about the CAES Office of Global Programs, visit For all of the photos from this year’s reception, visit

Merritt Melancon is a public relations manager with UGA's Terry College of Business and previously served as a public relations coordinator for the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and UGA Extension.

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