New Institute Focuses
Helping the world efficiently use its limited water resources to ensure the food supply for current and future generations is the vision of the University of Nebraska’s new global Water for Food Institute.
A $50 million founding gift from the Robert B. Daugherty Charitable Foundation in 2010 made the institute possible. Daugherty, an Omaha, Neb., native, founded Valmont Industries, the world’s most successful irrigation company, and remains committed to efficiently and sustainably using water to feed a growing world population.
The Water for Food Institute is an integrated, interdisciplinary center for research, education and policy analysis on agricultural water use. Headquartered at UNL, the institute will build on the university’s strengths in agriculture, water and natural resources. It will involve researchers from around the world by forging strong partnerships with international institutions focusing on food and water issues.
"We have the experience and opportunity to build a global center in Nebraska, leveraging the knowledge and resources of the University of Nebraska and other leading institutions to help alleviate human suffering and food insecurity," said NU President James B. Milliken. "The implications for individuals, families and nations are tremendous."
A search is being conducted for an internationally regarded expert in water and agriculture to serve as founding director for the new institute.
The university has hosted two international Water for Food conferences, with the third planned for May 2011. The 2010 conference drew more than 300 participants from 13 countries. Thirty speakers, including scientists, farmers and representatives from industry, government and non-governmental organizations, discussed critical issues and advances in research, policy and education related to agricultural water use. The conference was supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Robert B. Daugherty Charitable Foundation and Monsanto Co.
"I think the Water for Food Institute is going to be an important leader in addressing a crisis in producing food to feed the world," said Jeff Raikes, a Nebraska native and CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, who was involved in discussions leading to the institute’s creation and serves on its board of directors.
Learn more at waterforfood.nebraska.edu.