Saikat Kumar Basu
Department of Biological Sciences
University of Lethbridge
Lethbridge, AB Canada
Agriculture is often neglected as the most serious topic in recent times under different perspectives. We do talk about various disciplines of Science, Social Sciences and Humanities but often forget to provide due respect to the field of Agriculture and take this subject for granted. It is quite important to note that Agriculture just does not mean animal and crop production or pest and disease control or agronomy or soil science only; it spreads way beyond these usual scopes and now encompass divergent field as environmental sciences, food security and food politics, social anthropology, molecular biology, biotechnology, genetic engineering, nutritional sciences, human development, agricultural geography, satellite technologies and even nanotechnology. It has been slowly transformed into a most divergent, dynamic, engaging and multi-disciplinary subject that is inter-connected with every facet of modern human development. No human society can survive in the present world without investing in agricultural research and development. Agriculture is the mother and corner stone of all subjects and the fundamental pillar on which human societies and civilizations have thrived from time immemorial. The five basic requirements of any surviving human society on this planet, namely, food, fibre, fodder, fuel and fertilizer and are all direct products of agriculture [1,2].
With the increasing size in the global human population, coupled with shortages in available land resources for use in agriculture, the story of human hunger and starvation that still haunts some parts of our shared planet is indeed a serious global concern. No matter how much progress we make in different aspects of modern science, sustainable global food production is still and will continue to be the most intriguing and challenging problem for us to resolve in the not so distant future. A shift of interest among farmers from traditional food crops to industrial crops (like biofuel crops) can significantly destabilize global food production, resulting in food riots, famine, starvation, human death and misery as has been observed too often in recent times. With the growing income gap among developed, developing and under developed countries becoming wider every year, this crisis is going to stretch well beyond what has been speculated by most enthusiastic economists as a minor problem. Food security has been grossly underestimated in the context of severe environmental problems such as Global Warming and the inevitable forbidden fruit is already showing indications of a darker future filled with human suffering unless a comprehensive Food Policy is adapted globally which can provide Food Security for all. Some multinational food corporations and giant agro-based companies already are thriving on the booty generated from global food shortages by fluctuating prices and by tampering with economic indices for higher profit at the cost of human life and integrity [1,2].
While most journals specifically highlight on specialized aspects of agricultural or nutritional or social sciences research, the African Journal of Food, Agriculture, Nutrition and Development (AJFAND) is unique in this context, as it brings all major facets of human development and agriculture under one common platform. There are only a handful of journals across the globe that have been successful in staging this platform and AJFAND is one of them. My strongest passion of association with AJFAND has been this multi-dynamic approach to agricultural sciences and its long standing support in bringing forth a multitude of related important disciplines under a single roof. The thematic concept of the special issue series of AJFAND stemmed along the line of thought to showcase “Diversity of Research” in and around agricultural research, nutrition and health sciences, food sciences and developmental aspect of agriculture and human society in a multi-dimensional platform. To this end, we kept this special issue open ended with divergent research ideas and thoughts across the world. Our goal has been to accommodate a divergent group of scientists, researchers, social workers and enthusiasts in a single boat
sincerely believe that modern research and development will be coherently multi-disciplinary in the near future. To solve one problem, we will need the complex thoughts and ideas from widely divergent and even unconnected disciplines to come and flow together. Modern science and technology development for the betterment of human race will depend upon successful amalgamation and cross pollination of several of thoughts and ideas from different disciplines. Hence, this current issue of AJFAND deals with widely divergent topics related to agronomy, agricultural chemistry, health sciences, marine resources, anthropometrices, ruminant microbiology, animal science and animal husbandry, nutritional and food sciences, sociology, rural economics among wealth of other related disciplines.
The 2009 ‘Nobel Prize’ in Agriculture established by the 1970 Nobel laureate Dr. Norma E. Borlaug, known globally as the prestigious ‘World Food Prize’ went to Dr. Gebisa Ejeta, a plant breeder and distinguished professor of Agronomy at Purdue University, USA. Dr. Ejeta, a native of Ethiopia completed major part of his education and professional career in US and has been instrumental “….in breeding drought-tolerant and Striga-resistant sorghum …..combined with his efforts to foster economic development and the empowerment of subsistence farmers through the creation of agricultural enterprises in rural Africa” . This clearly illustrates the global focus of agricultural research, now highlighting more upon developing nations from Africa, Asia and Latin America, and welcome news for all who are interested in developing and promoting agricultural and rural development in developing and under-developed parts of the world. Also quite sad to note that Dr Borlaug passed away last year at the age of 95 after his inspirational career of research and promoting a wide culture of agricultural research and rural entrepreneurship for developing and under –developed countries. We would like to dedicate this special issue to the memory of Dr Borlaug for his contribution to the Green Revolution which fought hunger in so many obscure parts of the globe and for the legacy of humanitarian research he conducted to help countless farmers across the globe.
I am extremely grateful to Hon. Prof. Ruth Oniang'o, the Chief Editor of AJFAND for her kind invitation to serve as the Guest Editor for this issue. My sincere thanks and gratitude to the dedicated journal editorial team at AJFAND head office in Kenya; without their kind cooperation and hard work, this volume would not have been possible. I also extend my sincere thanks to the wonderful team of friends, colleagues, teachers and students spread across four different continents who assisted me with the review process. Their painstaking work, critical review and timely submissions helped this effort to go a long way. Last but not, the least my most sincere gratitude and congratulations to all the participating and contributing authors from different parts of the globe for their excellent effort, hard work, patience, support and kind cooperation during the entire process
Saikat Kumar Basu
Guest Editor, AJFAND
Department of Biological Sciences, University of Lethbridge, Lethbridge, AB Canada
Basu, S.K. 2009. The story of hunger: Global humanitarian crisis impacted by climate change, failing agriculture, food security issues and eroding environment. Guyana J. Volume 14 Issue 7, July 2009. Available online at: http://guyanajournal.com/Story_of_Hunger_Basu.html
The World Food Prize Foundation, Purdue University and CSA News, USA.