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ADM Establishes Postharvest Institute

21 January 2011

US - Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM) is donating a $10 million grant to establish the ADM Institute for the Prevention of Postharvest Loss at the University of Illinois.

The global institute will work with farmers in the developing world to help preserve millions of metric tons of grains and oilseeds lost each year to pests, disease, mishandling, and other factors.

"By the year 2050, global population is expected to reach 9.2 billion, and the demand for agricultural products is expected to double," said Patricia A. Woertz, ADM chairman, CEO and president.

"Clearly, preserving what is already grown is fundamental to feeding the world. This institute will help farmers around the world through training, tools and technologies that can help eliminate pests and disease, enable more efficient grain storage and handling, prevent spoilage, and improve crop quality overall."

U of I Interim Chancellor and Provost Robert Easter said the growing global population will need even more food than is currently produced, but added that there is no reason why this challenge cannot be overcome.

"I'm an optimist," he said. "Sufficient land, water, technology and skills are available. We just need to martial those skills and technologies. We need to look no further to see the importance of the work that lies ahead for this institute."

U of I professor of agricultural management Steve Sonka will serve as the global institute's faculty director.

"ADM's widely recognized expertise in crop storage, transportation, and handling will no doubt prove valuable to our global institute as we work to advance the real-world applicability of promising research findings," Sonka said. Sonka will work alongside researchers in the U of I College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) and in other colleges to develop research projects to solve postharvest problems.

Agricultural and Biological Engineering is one of the departments in ACES and Engineering that will work closely with the new institute. K.C. Ting, head of the department, said: "We need to find the appropriate technologies for developing countries.

"Many of our solutions to these problems are technology and facility intensive, but in developing countries you have to provide solutions that match the local environment. The real challenge is to address and solve their problems in a way, and at a cost, that can be delivered to those producers within their infrastructure."

The costs of feeding the world's hungry will be addressed by researchers in the College of ACES Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics (ACE).

"Assessing the economic costs of quality and quantity losses along the relevant supply chains will be essential in developing low-cost sustainable solutions for improving handling, processing and storage," said Paul Ellinger, professor and department head of ACE.

"Economic feasibility assessment of viable solutions combined with training materials for producers and handlers will also be essential to maintain sustainable outcomes." Funding for the new institute will be provided by ADM Cares, a corporate social-investment program.

TheCropSite News Desk

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