September 8, 2014

Big Ideas and Emerging Innovations

(A man walks before a rainstorm in Kogelo village, Kenya. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya)

Another Milestone Toward Making Cell Phones the Future of Weather Observations
Scientists have found that it is possible to monitor global rainfall using the telephone antenna network. With the lack of weather data in many technology-poor locations, this could prove be a game-changer in the future of global weather observations and forecasting. A new study details how simple measurement of the loss in signal between telephone antennae can predict whether it’s raining.

5 Futuristic Food Wrappers That You Don’t Have to Throw Away
Swedish design group Tomorrow Machine has a novel approach to sustainable packaging: food wrappers that are meant to be composted or washed down the drain. It hints of a Jetsonian pantry-of-the-future, but the inspirations behind Tomorrow Machine’s designs are very, very, old: fruit and eggs.

Cool Planet: Can Biochar Fertilize Soil and Help Fight Climate Change?
Napa Valley grower Eckhard Kaesekamp believes his grapevines have achieved a 5% higher yield than expected thanks to a soil treatment called CoolTerra—a product made from a carbon-rich substance called “biochar.” Biochar results from the carbonization from plant matter, which is supposed to improve soil fertility and increase water and nutrient retention.

Exploring a Tree One Cell at a Time
Michael Knoblauch, a plant cell biologist, is seeking to prove the longstanding hypothesis that what drives the flow of nutrients in the phloem of plants is pressure differential. Proving the hypothesis is more than an academic exercise. Fully understanding how plants function could lead to improvements in crop yields or resistance to pests and disease.


The Global Food and Agriculture Program aims to inform the development of US policy on global agricultural development and food security by raising awareness and providing resources, information, and policy analysis to the US Administration, Congress, and interested experts and organizations.

The Global Food and Agriculture Program is housed within the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, an independent, nonpartisan organization that provides insight – and influences the public discourse – on critical global issues. The Council on Global Affairs convenes leading global voices and conducts independent research to bring clarity and offer solutions to challenges and opportunities across the globe. The Council is committed to engaging the public and raising global awareness of issues that transcend borders and transform how people, business, and governments engage the world.

Support for the Global Food and Agriculture Program is generously provided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.


1,000 Days Blog, 1,000 Days

Africa Can End Poverty, World Bank

Agrilinks Blog

Bread Blog, Bread for the World

Can We Feed the World Blog, Agriculture for Impact

Concern Blogs, Concern Worldwide

Institute Insights, Bread for the World Institute

End Poverty in South Asia, World Bank

Global Development Blog, Center for Global Development

The Global Food Banking Network

Harvest 2050, Global Harvest Initiative

The Hunger and Undernutrition Blog, Humanitas Global Development

International Food Policy Research Institute News, IFPRI

International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center Blog, CIMMYT

ONE Blog, ONE Campaign

One Acre Fund Blog, One Acre Fund

Overseas Development Institute Blog, Overseas Development Institute

Oxfam America Blog, Oxfam America

Preventing Postharvest Loss, ADM Institute

Sense & Sustainability Blog, Sense & Sustainability

WFP USA Blog, World Food Program USA