Invited Speaker: Hendrik Bruins
Title: Hazards to Food Security: The Significance of Grain Reserves
Hendrik Bruins is a professor emeritus at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. He completed his PhD from the University of Wageningen, the Netherlands in 1986. He is the recipient of The Dutch Royal Award Officer in the Order of Orange-Nassau granted in the name of Her Majesty Queen Beatrix by the Deputy Prime-Minister and Minister of Finance, Gerrit Zalm, for achievements in policy-oriented studies on drought, hazard assessment and contingency planning in drylands, geo-archaeological desert research and innovative chronological studies about the ancient Near East. His research interests include Human Ecology in Deserts and Drylands, Disaster Contingency Planning: Water Security, Food Security, Shelter in Mass Emergencies, Drought Hazard Assessment and Time-Series Analysis, Chronology of the ancient Near East; The Catastrophic Santorini Eruption in the Eastern Mediterranean Region.
Environmental Desert Archaeology, GIS, Ancient Desert Agriculture, Pastoralism and Comparative Bedouin Anthropology.
The food system must be regarded as critical infrastructure, from farmers to consumers, via sowing, growing, harvesting, storage, transportation, processing, packaging, and marketing. Various hazards may endanger the food system, including droughts and floods, pandemics, economic and political crises, revolution and war. Since ancient times, cereal grains and pulses (legumes), which can be stored dry for a long period, have been the most important part of our daily food. Most countries were basically self-sufficient in food grain production until the first half of the twentieth century. However, today more than 100 nations are permanently dependent on food imports to have enough food for their citizens. Less than 10 countries produce food grains significantly beyond their own internal requirements. Significant food reserves do not exist in the world, while the volume of food grains available on the world market is limited. Severe droughts in China and India, the two most populous countries in the world, as well as other hazards, may cause large global grain yield reductions at some time in the future. Then the global demand for food imports may rise far beyond the amount of food grains available for sale. Very steep price rises and food shortages may lead to large-scale famine. Even financial reserves do not guarantee food grain imports! Therefore, contingency planning is needed to establish significant food grain reserves in each country. Moreover, the local farming sector should be stimulated and safeguarded.