ADM Grant Seeks to Keep Farmers’ Crops from Going to Waste
A $10 million grant to the University of Illinois from the Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM) will help preserve large amounts of grains and oil seeds lost each year by establishing the ADM Institute for the Prevention of Postharvest Loss.
The institute will be housed within the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences. It will also work with the College of Engineering, College of Business and College of Information Technology. The money from the grant will be used to launch new technology, collect crop data, and offer agricultural training programs for students and farmers.
The UN Food and Agricultural Organization estimates that around 10 to 20 percent of the world's grain harvest goes to waste because of mishandling or post-harvest operations. It is a problem ADM officials say poses a serious threat to the world's food supply, especially in developing nations. ADM president Patricia Woertz said just about five percent of all agricultural research dollars are used to study postharvest losses. Woertz said she hopes the research that results from this grant improves the world's food supply.
"It is our hope that the post harvest strategies and the practical applications devised here at U of I will ultimately boost the livelihoods of rice farmers in Southeast Asia, the sorghum grower in Eastern Africa, and the sunflower farmer in India," Woertz said. "Ultimately their gain is the world's gain."
Interim Vice Chancellor Steve Sonka, who is the former director of the National Soybean Research Laboratory, will head the institute. He said he is hopeful this new partnership with ADM will help the university strengthen its ties with groups in other countries that are also trying to reduce crop losses.
"Our strategy is to learn from their research - both their triumphs and failures - build on their work and then expand it," Sonka said.