Chuck Woods (352) 392-1773 x 281
ORLANDO—Norman Borlaug, the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize winner whose discoveries sparked the Green Revolution in agriculture and saved millions of lives, will be the keynote speaker June 27 at the First World Congress of Agroforestry in Orlando, Fla.
The agronomist, whose research has resulted in the production of new cereal grains to help feed the hungry in developing nations, will speak about using agroforestry to bridge the gap between agriculture and the environment.
Agroforestry includes various environmentally friendly farming practices that grow crops and animals alongside of trees or shrubs. It also promotes conservation of land and wildlife.
Goal of the weeklong congress, June 27 to July 2, is to provide a global forum for sharing knowledge and planning future strategies in agroforestry research, education, training and development. The congress, which is expected to attract more than 600 scientists and other professionals from around the world, is being hosted by the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS).
Other major sponsors include the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) in Nairobi, Kenya; the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service National Agroforestry Center in Lincoln, Neb.; the USDA Agricultural Research Service in Beltsville, Md.; Mars Inc. in Hackettstown, N.J.; the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome, Italy; the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation in Agriculture in Washington, D.C.; and the Agroforestry Center at the University of Missouri in Columbia.
P.K. Nair, a distinguished professor of agroforestry in the UF/IFAS School of Forest Resources and Conservation and chair of the global congress organizing committee, said the committee consists of three co-chairs and 18 other members representing various institutions around the world. The co-chairs are Dennis Garrity, director general of the World Agroforestry Centre; Gregory Ruark, director of the National Agroforestry Center; and Howard Shapiro, vice president of Mars Inc.
Nair said agroforestry practices are relatively new to industrialized nations such as the United States, but they are common in tropical regions where limited-resource farmers grow trees in crop fields to produce firewood and other products.
Nair, who also is director of UF’s Center for Subtropical Agroforestry, said the science could help smaller farms in the United States diversify, enhance revenues and become more sustainable. He said agroforestry began to attain prominence in the late 1970s when the international scientific community realized its potential in the tropics and recognized it as a scientific practice.
“During the 1990s, agroforestry practices were recognized by industrialized nations to help solve problems associated with the deterioration of family farms, soil erosion, surface and ground water pollution, and decreased biodiversity,” Nair said. “As a result, agroforestry is now receiving more attention as a sustainable land management option around the world because of its ecological, economic and social attributes.”
However, agroforestry research and development are at a crossroads, he said. The potential of the practices has been demonstrated, but the investment in the technology has not reached the level needed to make the science more common in large-scale farming.
Congress publications will include abstracts of all presentations. A compendium consisting of 30 peer-reviewed chapters by leading world experts will be published for the congress. After the congress, selected presentations will be published in peer-reviewed journals. A policy document or congress declaration also will be developed to promote agroforestry.
In addition to Borlaug, keynote speakers at the congress will include M.S. Swaminathan, a professor of ecotechnology for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and chair of the Swaminathan Research Foundation in Madras, India; and Pedro Sanchez, director of tropical agriculture and senior research scholar at the Earth Institute of Columbia University in New York City.
Swaminathan, named by Time magazine as one of the 20 most influential Asians of the 20th century, also has been described as “a living legend who will go into the annals of history as a world scientist of rare distinction” by UN Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar. A plant geneticist by training, Swaminathan’s contributions to agriculture in India have led to his being widely referred to as the scientific leader of the green revolution movement. He is a fellow of many of the leading scientific academies of India and the world, including the Royal Society of London and the U.S. National Academy of Sciences.
Sanchez is a soil scientist whose practical and economic solutions to problems in land productivity in developing nations have established him as a leader in world agriculture. He is chair of the task force on hunger for the UN Millennium Development Goals Program, which is working in conjunction with the Earth Institute to cut hunger rates in half by 2015.
In addition to keynote lectures, the program will include eight symposia, 30 concurrent sessions, poster sessions, satellite events and field trips.
There also will be tours before and after the Orlando congress, said Shibu Jose, an assistant professor of forestry at the UF/IFAS West Florida Research and Education Center in Milton. A pre-congress tour will highlight agroforestry research and farm demonstrations in Missouri, and a post-congress tour will cover agroforestry practices in North Florida.
Jose is one of six UF/IFAS faculty and staff on the congress local organizing committee. Other members are Janaki Alavalapti, an associate professor in the School of Forest Resources and Conservation; Alan Long, an associate professor in the school; Vimala Nair, a research assistant professor in the soil and water science department; Mandy Stage, a coordinator in the Office of Conferences and Institutes; and Sarah Workman, a former visiting assistant professor of agroforestry.
The congress will be held at the Hilton in the Walt Disney World Resort, and reservations should be made by calling the hotel at 1-800-782-4414 in the U.S. Outside the U.S. and Canada, call 1-407-827-4000.
The congress registration fees include a printed copy and CD-ROM of the abstract book, additional conference materials and full participation in all aspects of the program. Registration fees — by March 31, 2004 — are $500 for regular participants and $250 for students. After that date, registration fees are $550 for regular participants and $275 for students.
For more information, visit the congress Web site: http://conference.ifas.ufl.edu/wca/