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UK at Milan Expo 2015 celebrates Feeding the Planet Week

UKTI has partnered with artist Carl Warner to create a series of animations to show the UK’s impact in global agricultural innovation.

Food artist Carl Warner specialises in creating visual landscapes with food. He has created a short series of animations with maize, rice, beans and coffee – highlighting UK global solutions to feeding the planet, timed to mark UN World Food Day on October 16.

They are part of the UK’s participation at Milan Expo 2015 in the final weeks of the World Expo. The central theme of the World Expo is ‘Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life’, and international leaders will gather in Milan to show commitment to tackling global poverty and under-nutrition.

During the week, the UK is also delivering a programme of events in Milan. Government Chief Scientific Adviser Mark Walport, and Chair of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment Lord Stern will provide UK thought-leadership on issues relating to food sustainability.

The films illustrate how innovation and science in agriculture and farming is providing vital support to community livelihoods and economic development across the world; and how the UK’s commitment to international partnerships can make a real difference.

More than 800 million people still go hungry today. An additional one billion suffer from hidden hunger where important vitamins and minerals are missing in their diet, risking a range of health problems. UK research also shows that catastrophic food production shocks from extreme weather will become more than three times more likely by 2040.

The UK – providing global food solutions

The UK – providing global food solutions

Resilient Rice: UK aid supports the development of flood resistant rice

With the support of UK aid, flood-resistant ‘scuba rice’ has been developed. It survives by becoming dormant until water levels recede.

Scientists transferred the gene responsible for flood resistance into local rice varieties used by flood-prone areas around the world. It will help almost 18 million households over 10 years.

Working with the International Rice Research Institute, UK aid has developed rice that’s resilient to inhospitable climates, in particular to high levels of rainfall and flash flooding, which can instantly destroy paddy fields. Paddy loss due to flooding in Bangladesh and India alone amounts to an estimated 4 million tons of rice per year - enough to feed 30 million people.

Whereas most rice dies when underwater, ‘scuba rice’ simply stays dormant until the waters recede. This new strain of rice has kept all the characteristics that made the initial breed popular with farmers such as high yield, good grain quality and local pest and disease resistance.

International Rice Research Institute’s Stress-Tolerant Rice for Africa and South Asia programme, aims to raise yields by 50% over ten years through improved cultivars and management.

The UK at Milan Expo 2015: Food Stories (Resilient Rice)

Saving Maize: UK science expertise helps triple maize yield in Africa

UK research institutions have helped develop a maize-saving planting system, which draws pests like the stemborer caterpillar, away from the food crop.

This has been used by more than 100,000 farmers in East Africa, tripling maize yields and supporting sustainable farming.

The UK’ Rothamsted Research with the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology, Kenya, has helped develop a simple planting system that has tripled maize yields in Africa.

The “push-pull system” benefits farmers by driving away pests like the stemborer caterpillar whilst at the same time diversify farmers produce.

Where maize is the main crop, a separate plant is sown between the rows. The second crop diverts (pushes) the pests from the main crop and entices (pull) them into a small trap crop and brings in beneficial organisms such as parasitoids and predators.

This innovation could help to end hunger and poverty in sub-Saharan Africa.

The UK at Milan Expo 2015: Food Stories (Saving Maize)

Protecting Coffee: UK research helps Arabica coffee preservation

UK scientists at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, are researching the impact climate change is having on the wild Arabica coffee bean in Ethiopia and South Sudan.

One in four Ethiopians depends on coffee for their livelihoods. Communities in Ethiopia and South Sudan will use the data to protect their most vital industry.

In the first study of its kind, UK scientists have found that Arabica grown in the world’s coffee plantations are from limited genetic stock and don’t have the flexibility required to cope with climate change.

Ethiopia is getting warmer and the rainy season is getting shorter with more hot days, putting coffee plant species at risk.

The data used has allowed for climate resilient plans to be put in place as part of a future-proofing exercise for the long-term sustainability of Arabica, and therefore Ethiopia’s vital coffee resources.

The UK at Milan Expo 2015: Food Stories (Protecting Coffee)

Super Beans: UK aid supports biofortified beans to tackle hidden hunger

UK aid is helping deliver sustainable food solutions such as supporting the development of iron-biofortified crops, like beans.

This is to tackle hidden hunger, and improve diets where essential vitamins and minerals are missing. More than 2 million farmers, including in Africa and Asia, have been reached with biofortified crops.

Over one billion people experience ‘hidden hunger’ by missing important vitamins and minerals in their diet. One innovative approach the UK supports, HarvestPlus, aims to reduce micronutrient malnutrition in Africa and Asia by developing cost effective biofortified food.

Iron deficiency during childhood and adolescence is a serious problem contributing to impaired physical growth, mental development, and learning capacity. UK aids supports the work of HarvestPlus. It introduces more iron and zinc into diets by breeding it into staple crops, like beans. HarvestPlus aims to distribute beans like this to 200,000 farmers per year.

The UK at Milan Expo 2015: Food Stories (Super Beans)

About the UK at Milan Expo 2015

The UK is participating at the World Expo 2015 in Milan from 1 May to 31 October. The World Expos take place every five years and the core theme for Milan Expo is ‘Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life’. 145 nations are participating, including the UK’s major political and trading partners, in addition to the United Nations, the European Union, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research and a host of NGOs. Milan Expo 2015 offers a global platform to promote UK international agendas and showcase how British innovation, creativity and global leadership is helping to feed the planet.

The UK’s participation theme for Milan Expo 2015 is ‘Grown in Britain and Northern Ireland’, led by UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) with support from 7 UK government departments. The stand-out UK Pavilion is inspired by the crucial role played by pollination in providing the food that we eat. It offers visitors a unique experiential journey taken from the perspective of the honey bee and forms the platform for a programme of UK business, science and cultural events, linked to the leading role the UK plays in overcoming global challenges.

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