By 2050 it is estimated that the world’s population will be 9 billion people. In order to feed the world’s growing population, farmers will need to produce more food in the next fifty years than they have in the last ten thousand years combined. How will we feed 9 billion people? People like my Aunt, the inspirational Dr Beth Woods are working hard on finding the answers. Could fish and rice hold the key?
Beth became the first female Rhodes Scholar to Oxford University in 1976, when she was 21. 'I was very excited when I was successful and I was also a bit scared because I thought, I’m going to a university that takes the very best students from all around the world and maybe I won't be able to keep up,' Beth admits. Beth is now Director-General of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and also works for the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and World Fish.
Aquaculture provides almost half of the global supply of fish, an important food source in poor countries. World Fish aims to reduce poverty and hunger by improving fisheries and aquaculture. IRRI aims to improve the supply and nutritional value of rice for poor people. IRRI has developed rice that can survive floods, which is making a big difference to the poorest people who live in countries badly affected by floods. IRRI also developed golden rice that is full of beta-carotene, which our body converts into vitamin A. Deficiency of vitamin A can cause blindness and leads to 2 million deaths each year.
IRRI had to prove that golden rice would make a difference so they needed volunteers who would test it for them. An order of Roman Catholic Nuns stepped up to the job knowing that it could save many lives.
Beth is an inspiring woman because she is so focused and determined on helping so many lives. Her advice is, 'Make sure you do as well as you possibly can in your studies because it gives you so many opportunities, doing the best you can is important.'