A world without hunger and safe food to boot is the goal of a new partnership between the University of Minnesota and the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

The U of M and FAO approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) Thursday for the new collaboration to address a range of issues associated with global food security.

Dr. Jacques Diouf, FAO Director-General, and U of M President Robert Bruininks and Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, Tom Sullivan, signed the agreement.

The FAO’s mission–to create a world without hunger–includes a mandate to raise levels of nutrition, improve agricultural productivity, better the lives of rural populations, and contribute to the growth of the world economy.
“The FAO is charged with addressing some of the most pressing issues of global food security and nutrition,” said Bruininks. “The University of Minnesota–with our world renowned research and expertise in food safety, security, and sustainability–is uniquely positioned to work in collaboration with the FAO on the full range of these issues, across many academic disciplines.”
Sullivan added, “This MOU has enormous potential to bring to bear the university’s academic rigor in these areas along with the business expertise of our corporate partners, the multinational food companies headquartered in Minnesota, to help solve the global grand challenges of food safety, security, and sustainability.”

The agreement provides a framework for the University of Minnesota and FAO to work together to alleviate hunger through the application of e-learning, extension, and capacity-building programs.  U of M will also engage collaborators across the globe from other universities, the private sector, public sector, non-governmental organizations and inter-governmental organizations to exchange knowledge and share best practices to solve the global hunger crisis.

In advance of signing the MOU, Diouf said, “I was impressed by the work being undertaken by the University of Minnesota and hope this agreement will lead to increased collaboration between our institutions and other partners to address agriculture development and food insecurity.”
Specifically, the MOU outlines collaboration in the areas of animal and veterinary science, human health, plant health, fish health, food safety, food science, nutrition, communications, and distance education, including e-learning, to:
Develop and deliver leadership capacity-building programs for emerging and mid-career leaders in government, industry, non-profit organizations and intergovernmental organizations;

Share best practices to enhance public and private collaboration on food security and economic development;

Identify experts that could contribute to FAO’s technical assistance programs;

Promote networks of professional experts;

Encourage the exchange of scientists, faculty members and graduate students to assist with various capacity-building projects and programs;

Develop innovative education and training programs that offer university credentials upon successful completion;

Collaborate on scalable education, training, and professional development programs including distance-education and e-learning; and

Organize conferences, seminars, training workshops and technical meetings at the global, regional and country levels.
The MOU will involve the research and expertise of the university’s College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences; School of Public Health; College of Veterinary Medicine; College of Biological Sciences; Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs; Extension services, and Office of International Programs.