2009 has been a year of dramatic change. Agricultural development issues, after years on the back burner, are emerging as a key priority for international attention. Notwithstanding setbacks to the global economy and the military crises around the world, government leaders responded to the food price crisis of 2007-8 with a renewed commitment to invest in agriculture development. In April 2009, the US and other nations supported the G8 pledge to provide US$ 20 billion for developing country research, international collaboration, and dissemination of results related to agriculture and food security. The US commitment alone is expected to be over US$1 billion in 2010, more than doubling current levels of support.
A comprehensive global food security strategy that recognizes food security as a critical component of the larger national security strategy will guide decisions over these higher levels of funding. The strategy explicitly identifies colleges and universities as key players, providing exciting opportunities for higher education. The rationale for engaging higher education was outlined in the report of the first Conference of Deans meeting held in April 2008. It is now time for the higher education community to build on its strengths, to meet the challenges ahead, and to contribute to building the global food security strategy.