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2015 Global Agricultural Productivity report shared at World Food Prize
For the second year in a row, the rate of global agricultural productivity growth continues to stagnate, says a report by the Global Harvest Initiative (GHI) released during the World Food Prize conference in Des Moines, Iowa, October 15. The report, with technical support from the Water for Food Institute, states that g lobal agricultural productivity must increase by 1.75 percent annually to meet the demands of an estimated 9.7 billion people in 2050.

According to GHI's annual assessment of productivity growth - the GAP Index™ - the current rate of growth is only 1.72 percent. The rate of annual productivity growth in low-income countries is much lower, only 1.5 percent. At this rate, fifteen years from now (2030) sub-Saharan Africa will only be able to meet 14 percent of its food demand, driving up food prices for poor households and requiring significant imports, food assistance, and opening up environmentally sensitive land for agricultural production.

The GAP Report® highlights the powerful legacy of the United States' agriculture and conservation system and also urges continued commitment and investment in order to generate new innovations that produce more food, feed, fiber and biofuel while simultaneously conserving soil, water and other precious natural resources. Read the full report

Buffetts share insights at Rural Futures Conference
The 2015 Rural Futures Institute Conference, Hope Inspires Vision, brought more than 350 participants to Nebraska Innovation Campus in Lincoln to  envision vibrant rural futures. Dozens of side events, workshops, coffee talks, keynote presentations and other interactive events showed how a strong vision, coupled with active hope for the future, can energize the rural landscape and create brighter futures. 

The RFI conference keynote address was also the first Heuermann Lecture of the 2015-16 season: "Finding Hope, Pioneering Your Own 40 Chances." Howard G. Buffett Sr. and Howard W. Buffett Jr. shared their views on tackling the global issues of food security and how we each need to make the most of our own 40 chances. The lecture can be viewed online.

Water for Food Institute Director of Policy Nick Brozovic moderated a coffee shop talk on how giving back builds strong communities. Participants heard from Nebraska social entrepreneurs striving to give back through the work they do, utilizing their talents and gifts to impact their communities. Panelists were Andrew Norman, Executive Director, Hear Nebraska; Brian Thompson, Vice President of External Relations, Consolidated Companies; and Brent Nollette, Vocational Agriculture Teacher, Valentine High School Moderator.

2016 NWC Water and Natural Resources Tour
The 2016 summer Water and Natural Resources Tour will be a three or four day excursion, examining issues in Colorado's South Platte River basin. Organizers from the Nebraska Water Center and the Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District will travel to the area in late November to begin planning an itinerary. For more information, see the website.  

Zimmerman to Speak on NRC Watershed Funds at UNL Oct. 28
Kent Zimmerman, representing the Nebraska Natural Resources Commission (NRC) Resources Development & Watershed Funds, will be at UNL's East Campus Hardin Hall at 9 a.m. Wednesday, October 28, to answer questions on the new Water Sustainability Fund, which is a new source of financial support for water research, data, and modeling that was established last year by the Nebraska Legislature. For more information on this important presentation, visit the website.
Upcoming events

2016 Water for Food Global Conference | April 24-26, 2016

Save the Date! The 2016 Water for Food Global Conference:   Catalytic Collaborations: Building Public-Private Partnerships for  Water and Food Security, will be held  April 24-26 at Nebraska Innovation Campus.  Through compelling keynote addresses, panel discussions, poster presentations, tours and side events, the conference will showcase how PPPs can be a catalyst for change in approaching water and food security now and in our future.

Nebraska League of Conservation Voters hosts 2015 Conservation Summit | Dec.7
Monday, December 7
1:30 - 9 p.m.
Scott Conference Center, 6450 Pine St., Omaha
Water affects us all. We need it to survive and yet most of us don't know where it comes from, how it's used, or how it's managed. But these questions are critical to address for the sustainability of business, communities, and life, and they are what the 2015 Nebraska Conservation Summit will explore. Attendees at this event will be policymakers, business leaders, young people, farmers, ranchers, moms, dads, and grandparents. Dr. Peter Gleick, president and co-founder of the Pacific Institute, will deliver a keynote and other speakers include Dr. Nicholas Brozovic, director of policy, Water for Food Institute; Ann Bleed, former director, Nebraska Department of Natural Resources; Jeff Fassett, director, Nebraska Department of Natural Resources; Roric Paulman, Nebraska farmer and board chair, Nebraska Water Balance Alliance, among others. Register here.

Implications of a Changing Arctic on Water Resource and Agriculture in the Central U.S. | Nov. 10-12
Evidence is showing that changes in the Arctic climate are influencing mid-latitude weather patterns around the world. Although much remains to be determined, new research shows that reductions in snow and sea ice, and warming temperatures in the Arctic may be influencing the behavior of the jet stream and severe and extreme weather in the mid-states. As the US is currently chairing the Arctic Council, greater attention is now being given to this critical part of the globe.

Dr. Jennifer Francis, a research professor with the Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences at Rutgers University is presenting a public keynote "Crazy Weather and the Arctic Meltdown: Are They Connected," at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 10 at Nebraska Innovation Campus.

Come to this workshop to contribute to future research, planning decisions and the identification of possible adaptation and mitigation strategies in response to these critical changes.  More information and registration is available online.

Food Security Implications of a Changing Arctic | Nov. 12-13
Together with Atmospheric and Environmental Research, Inc., WFI is co-hosting addendum workshops titled, "Food Security Implications of a Changing Arctic" November 12-13, 2015, to further explore the impact of climate change in the Arctic on food producing regions in the Midwest.
Session #1: Impacts of Arctic Climate Change on Agriculture and Food Security.  12:30-17:00 Thursday, November 12, 2015, Nebraska Innovation Campus, Lincoln, Nebraska
Session #2: Satellite Remote Sensing of the Arctic. 08:00-12:00, Friday, November 13, 2015, Marriott Courtyard Conference Room, Lincoln, NE
Registration is required for attendance in "Implications of a Changing Arctic on Water Resources and Agriculture in the Central U.S" but there are no fees. Learn more online .

Transdisciplinary Conversations | Nov. 17
The National Strategic Research Institute at the University of Nebraska will be hosting a Transdisciplinary Conversations event on Tuesday, Nov. 17, from 4:30 - 6:00 p.m. in the UNMC Sorrell Center Small Ballroom, 1001 BCD. General Hinson will give opening remarks, with Dr. Ken Bayles giving an informal 10-15 minute talk on the work he's doing with NSRI, incorporating the use of cross-disciplinary connections. The remainder of the time is built in for networking to allow attendees time to make cross-disciplinary connections they may not otherwise make. Food and refreshments will be served by Upstream Catering. Register online.

Celebrating five years of growth | Dec. 4

Friday, Dec. 4
3:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.
The Link at NIC
Lincoln, Nebraska

Join us for food, music and camaraderie as we celebrate the institute's fifth anniversary and the many accomplishments of its staff, faculty fellows, students, partners and colleagues. RSVP here!

Spotlight: Featured faculty and students

Guillermo Baigorria, crop simulation modeler
Guillermo Baigorria's research focuses on helping agricultural decision-makers use climate information more efficiently. He combines his multi-disciplinary background in meteorology, agronomy and soil science to develop user-friendly software tools to project crop yields based on complex climate modeling forecasts. He has developed geospatial weather generators, automatized categorical forecast systems, as well as extended geo-statistic and principal components methods for analyzing the impacts of climate variability and climate change in agriculture.

Baigorria is the principal investigator for the CropClimate initiative, an interactive tool that uses state-of-the-art knowledge in climate-, soil-, and crop modeling to link the effects of environmental conditions and management to develop more sustainable crop production systems. Data from CropClimate.org set the basis for the forthcoming International Consortium of Categorical Applications on AgroClimatology.

See a short video interview with Dr. Baigorria and learn more about his work on the Water for Food Institute website.
Water funding opportunities
Indo-U.S. 21st Century Knowledge Initiative
Deadline: November 2

The United States-India Educational Foundation (USIEF) announces an open competition for the support of projects through the Indo-U.S. 21st Century Knowledge Initiative awards (formerly known as the Obama-Singh 21st Century Knowledge Initiative). Announced by the U.S. and Indian governments, Knowledge Initiative aims to strengthen collaboration and build partnerships between American and Indian institutions of higher education.

U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) - Water Conservation in Jordan
Deadline: December 18, 2015

USAID will fund a 5-year program in Jordan to enhance water conservation and availability. The objectives are to develop technologies for water conservation; to increase aquifer recharge and soil water storage; and to build local awareness, capacity and policy for water management. USAID will make one grant for US$30 million that will enable local sub-grants. Eligibility for funding is unrestricted.

India Partnerships Annual Program Statement 
Deadline: December 31, 2015
USAID/India's invitation to prospective implementing partners (e.g. NGOs, private sector concerns, and others) who can engage and work with resource partners (e.g. corporations, local businesses, foundations, and others). USAID/India is specifically seeking Indian implementing organizations (for-profit and not-for-profit) and non-traditional Indian development partners, to reach out to Indian resource partners and explore ways in which collaboration with USAID/India might help each partner - private sector, NGO, and public sector contributors - to more effectively address key issues, advance shared development goals, and achieve exceptional development results and impacts in India and beyond.

The Water for Food Institute at the University of Nebraska was founded in 2010 by the Robert B. Daugherty Charitable Foundation to address the global challenge of achieving food security with less stress on water resources through improved water management in agricultural and food systems. We are committed to ensuring a water and food secure world while maintaining the use of water for other human and environmental needs.