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18 September 2017 12:20:25 |Arable,Crops and Cereals,News

UK involved in $45m project to eradicate world hunger by increasing crop yields

The project has already demonstrated yield increases of 20%

The project has already demonstrated yield increases of 20%

A major research project worth $45 million is underway to increase crop yields for farmers worldwide by improving plant photosynthesis.
Awarded to the University of Illinois and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the project focuses on the process that enables plants to harvest energy from the sun and convert it to products for food and fuel.
The multi-million-dollar project, titled RIPE – Realising Increased Photosynthetic Efficiency, has already demonstrated yield increases of 20%.
The further funding will enable the researchers to continue their work to address the global food challenge.
Led by the University of Illinois, RIPE brings together an international team of scientists in a joint project to exploit plant scientists' understanding of the fundamentals of photosynthesis to increase crop yields of the major “C3 crops” such as rice, cassava and beans.
The United Nations has recently launched a new report on world hunger, making the research particularly pertinent.

'Eradicate world hunger'
The University of Essex is involved in the RIPE funding. Professor Steve Long said: “Today's report on world hunger and nutrition from five UN agencies reinforces our mission to work doggedly to provide new means to eradicate world hunger and malnutrition by 2030 and beyond.
“This investment is timely. Annual yield gains are stagnating and means to achieve substantial improvement must be developed now if we are to provide sufficient food for a growing and increasingly urban world population when food production must also adapt sustainably to a changing climate.”
This global project will also involve scientists at the universities of Australian National, Louisiana State, Shanghai and Lancaster.
RIPE and its funders will ensure their high-yielding food crops are globally available and affordable for smallholder farmers to help feed the world’s hungriest and reduce poverty, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa and South-East Asia.
But there is still a long way to go in the project, explained Professor Long: “It takes about 15 years from discovery until crops with these transformative biotechnologies are available for farmers,” he said. “It will therefore be well into the 2030s before such superior crops are seen at scale in farmers’ fields.”


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