Dear friends and colleagues,
This is an unprecedented time in the history of humankind on our fragile planet earth. While the challenge of ensuring food and nutrition security is not new, we are additional faced with the difficulty of achieving this grand challenge through sustainable agriculture practices under climate change. With climate change and rising global temperature, rainfall has become more unpredictable and erratic, thereby making water security an increasing problem in many parts of the world. The food-water-agriculture nexus has become a major issue facing researchers, policy makers, business and the general public. Agricultural and bio systems engineers have a critical role to play in addressing these wicked and interconnected existential challenges confronting humankind. We must assure food and nutrition security for nearly 10 billion people on earth by 2050 without compromising the health of the planet and survival of generations to come.
Historically, advancements in agricultural engineering have been recognised for contributing to averting the catastrophe of insufficient food during the Malthusian era. In particular, the mechanization of agriculture and application of related technologies during the last century has been credited for the successful boom in food production by bringing more land into production as well as increasing factor productivity. Today’s agriculture, however, must produce more with less! Currently, agriculture accounts for over 70 percent of global fresh water utilisation, and even higher in regions relying on irrigated food and fibre production.
With growing human population and rising urbanisation, including developing regions such as Sub-Saharan Africa, the demand for quality, safe and nutritious food is forecast to rise by nearly 70 per cent by 2050 under current production and consumption patterns. The competition for agricultural land and fresh water is, therefore, expected to intensify. Agricultural engineers must, therefore, help define and promote new a sustainable agriculture and food system which assures food and nutrition security with less farm land, less water and less production inputs. We must also save the harvest through improved postharvest management practices and sustainable consumption. Beyond food availability, agriculture must also contribute towards addressing the broader socio-economic challenges facing Africa and the world at large, including soil and water conservation, climate change adaptation, youth unemployment, rising inequality and widespread poverty. Nowhere else are these complex problems more acute than in Africa, especially south of the Sahara. The solution calls for teamwork, collaboration, and partnerships, across discipline boundaries as well as through regional and global cooperation.
AfroAgEng – the Pan African Society for Agricultural Engineering was formed in 2012 during the VII International Technical Symposium of the CIGR (International Commission of Agricultural & Biosystems Engineering) held in Stellenbosch, South Africa. The goal of AfroAgEng is to advance the practice of agricultural engineering and promote the profession in Africa. Membership is open to all professionals within and outside Africa interested in the application of agricultural engineering principles and practice to the transformation of Africa agriculture towards as part of Agenda 2063 – the Africa We Want. The 1st International Conference of AfroAgEng was successfully held in Nairobi, Kenya, in March 2018, and was attended by participants from various countries on the Continent.
The 2nd AfroAgEng International Conference (scheduled from September 10 to 13th 2019 in Rabat, Morocco) on the Role of Agricultural Engineering in Tackling Global Food Security is part of the joint event organised by CIGR, AfroAgEng and ANAFIDE, and the 5th Inter Regional Conference on Water Mobilisation and Soil Conservation for a Better Adaptation to Climate Change. This global partnership and collaboration represents the true spirit of the CIGR and its adhering bodies as part of our efforts in tackling these complex, multi-dimensional and truly global challenges facing humankind.
I am very excited about the themes of these joint conferences and I am happy to invite you and your colleagues to the historic and beautiful city of Rabat in 2019. Please join us.
I am looking forward to welcoming you.
Prof. Dr. Umezuruike Linus Opara FIAgfE FSAIAE FNIAE