Most of the world's food is grown in semi-arid environments, but growing food reliably in such places will become more challenging as temperatures rise and water supplies dwindle. University of Arizona President Robert C. Robbins created the Presidential Advisory Commission on the Future of Agriculture and Food Production in a Drying Climate to identify solutions to these challenges. After six months of consulting and surveying experts and stakeholders, the commission issued a report in which they identified threats to Arizona agriculture and recommended five actions that the University of Arizona can take, including creating technology and innovation hubs, expanding partnerships with the tribal agriculture community, and establishing and strengthening existing collaborations with institutions in arid regions around the world.
As the state's land-grant university, UArizona maintains strong connections to agricultural communities. For example, Cooperative Extension offices – which serve as links between the university and agricultural communities, through engagement and education – are located in each of Arizona's 15 counties and in five of the state's 22 Native American nations. "The issues of food, water and agriculture are the issues of the day," said commission member and water policy expert Sharon Megdal, director of the university's Water Resources Research Center. "We need all hands on deck. It won't be without burden and cost and hardship, but I am optimistic that we can adapt." With these recommendations, the commission aims to build university infrastructure and strengthen community engagement to see solutions come to fruition.