Newswise — The University of Florida has announced the creation of the UF/IFAS Global Food Systems Institute, which will expand the scope of the existing Food Systems Institute to achieve global preeminence in all three components of the land-grant mission.

Created in 2020, the Food Systems Institute brought together researchers from across disciplines to tackle challenges in sustainable food production and feeding a world population projected to reach 10 billion people by 2050.

The expansion means that the Global Food Systems Institute will also focus on building teaching capacity for the next generation of global food system scientists and educators and helping communities outside the U.S. adopt aspects of the Cooperative Extension model appropriate to their countries.

“The land-grant mission is about developing innovative ways to help communities prosper in the United States, and UF/IFAS is a shining example of this mission in action. As we continue to support Florida farmers and communities, our work must recognize that Florida is part of a complex, interconnected global food system and that innovations in sustainable food production will help all of us,” said J. Scott Angle, UF senior vice president of agriculture and natural resources and the leader of UF/IFAS.

The disruptions to the food supply chain caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and now the war in Ukraine are evidence of how interdependent the global food system is, Angle said.

“Climate change is already straining our ability to produce food and get it to where it needs to go. That’s why we need to be working with the international community to find solutions that will benefit farmers and people here in Florida and around the world,” Angle said.

Adegbola Adesogan, who has led the FSI since its creation, will continue as director of the Global Food Systems Institute.

“Florida’s tropical and subtropical climate, as well as our diversity of crops and growing conditions, make it an ideal place to find solutions to many of the world’s food production challenges. At the same time, there is much we can learn from our international collaborators that can benefit Florida. The Global Food Systems Institute (GFSI) aims to be at the forefront of this exchange and to position UF/IFAS as a leader in this area,” said Adesogan, a professor of ruminant nutrition in the UF/IFAS animal sciences department.  

Adesogan has also been named the E. T. and Vam York professor of international agriculture and is the first person to hold this title in several years. E. T. York, the founder of UF/IFAS, and his wife, Vam York were passionate supporters of the land-grant mission and its potential to address global food production and security.

Furthering the teaching component of the land-grant mission, the GFSI will work with departments to recruit international graduate students who can take their knowledge and skills back to their home countries after completing their graduate program.

Research and Extension within GFSI will be organized along several focus areas, including circular climate-smart sustainable food production and safety; crop, livestock and aquaculture production, protection and modeling; natural resource conservation; and leveraging UF’s capacity in artificial intelligence for local to global farming systems.