Food for 9 Billion takes a weeklong look at feeding the planet

Ademar Serrano Abarca, a 65-year-old farmer in Costa Rica, has devoted a quarter of his land to forest and grows coffee and food crops on the rest. He says pest infestations are drastically lower on his land than on land with no trees.

Credit: Sam Eaton/Homelands Productions

This week, PBS NewsHour will feature five video segments from Food for 9 Billion – a two-year project spearheaded by The Center for Investigative Reporting and Homelands Productions, with broadcast partners PBS NewsHour, American Public Media’s Marketplace and PRI's The World.

This partnership has produced more than 24 radio and 12 video stories about the challenges of feeding a planet that will reach a population of 9 billion by 2050. The world's 1 billion chronically undernourished people already are struggling with hunger and scarcity, while the planet faces mounting threats from global warming, lack of water, erosion of arable land and violent conflicts.

Food for 9 Billion has traveled the world in search of stories about people and places that are at the center of these challenges. From China to Qatar, Egypt to Costa Rica, our reporters have searched for the individuals and communities that are grappling with ways to make our global food system more sustainable, just and productive. Some of the solutions and experiments are technologically complex, some intuitively simple and small-scale, and others controversial and unproven.

Here’s a look at the stories we are rolling out this week. Be sure to watch NewsHour and check back to our website for these stories:

In Costa Rica, studies show that biodiversity on and around farms can increase yields, lower the need for pesticides and provide protection against heat and drought.

In Qatar, scientists and engineers have built a high-tech facility in the desert, where they're working to transform sunlight, seawater and carbon dioxide into food, fresh water and energy for some of the world's most climate-challenged places.

In Singapore, a new breed of farmers is growing crops in urban high rises.

In California, we discover Chinese agricultural entrepreneurs looking to transfer American know-how to create state-of-the-art industrial dairy operations.

In India, ancient salt-resistant heirloom seeds are reintroduced to lands that have been devastated by typhoons and flooding.

Taken together, these stories weave a tapestry of the challenges and opportunities we all face to create a sustainable global food system – now and into the future. Ordinary people need to understand the stakes, ask tough questions and have a say in the solutions.

Correction: An earlier version of this blog misstated agricultural efforts in Qatar.

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