Rome, Italy - "Greetings from Rome! This week, I'm attending the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization's (FAO) Second International Symposium on Agroecology. Yesterday, I was honored to speak on a panel discussing "Innovative Markets, Food Systems, and Cities." I have met so many inspiring people working to scale up, and scale out agroecology, including our friends at the Global Alliance for the Future of Food, Practical Action, the AgroEcology Fund, More and Better, the McKnight Foundation, the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa, Oxfam, and many more. I am grateful to have this opportunity to listen and engage in discussions with food systems leaders from all over the world who are focused on promoting agroecology as a pathway to achieving the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
"I am also really excited to introduce you to the Smart Food initiative by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT). This project is working to make traditional grains, like millets and sorghum, attractive and lucrative options for both farmers and eaters in the semi-arid tropics of Africa and India. Millets and sorghum are grains that are nutrient-rich, drought-tolerant crops and can support communities around the world.
"ICRISAT estimates that more than 90 million people in Africa and Asia depend on millets in their diets, and 500 million people in more than 30 countries depend on sorghums as a staple food. However, in the past 50 years, these grains have largely been abandoned in favor of crops like maize, wheat, rice, and soybeans.
"Building awareness of these grains can support the dietary diversity, well-being, and livelihoods of rural communities and farmers in Africa and India, where under-nutrition, malnutrition, obesity, and anemia are common. And because these ancient grains are often resistant to pests and disease as well as drought-tolerant, they can also be the foods of the future."