World hunger humanitarian to speak at U of G
Renowned soil scientist and humanitarian Pedro Sanchez will give a talk on hunger and soil fertility in Africa at the University of Guelph June 16 at 7 p.m. The talk, which is part of the 2004 public lecture series held by the Ontario Agricultural College, will take place at the Arboretum Centre and is free and open to the public.
Helping to pull more than 150,000 small-scale farmers in east Africa out of poverty is among Sanchez’s long list of achievements. The director of tropical agriculture at Columbia University’s Earth Institute, he has used soil and plant sciences to tackle poverty and hunger in developing countries in Africa and South America.
Sanchez’s work in sustainable farming practices, including soil fertility improvement, has allowed poor landowners in east Africa to roughly triple their corn production, said Peter van Straaten, a Guelph land resource science professor who has studied rocks and soils in east Africa during the past 25 years. “That’s a crucial step out of poverty,” he said.
Sanchez, a native of Cuba, began his career in Peru, where he helped the country become self-sufficient in rice production and where he challenged the belief that tropical soils are unproductive by developing alternative management practices.
After working in Brazil, he went to Africa as director-general of the International Centre for Research in Agroforestry, based in Kenya. There, he collaborated with several U of G faculty, including van Straaten, who has worked with him on developing cropping systems that include adding of crushed native phosphate rocks to soil and interplanting nitrogen-rich trees and shrubs.
Sanchez received the 2002 World Food Prize – considered by some to be the “Nobel Prize for food and agriculture” – and is co-chair of the United Nations Millennium Project Task Force on World Hunger. In 2003, he was named a MacArthur Fellow. His book, Properties and Management of Soils in the Tropics, has become a standard reference tool.
For more information, call van Straaten at (519) 824-4120, Ext. 52456.
For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt (519) 824-4120, Ext. 53338, or Rachelle Cooper, Ext. 56982.