August 14, 2017

Big Ideas and Emerging Innovations

A farmer using rice planting machine conducts rice transplanting in Ryugasaki, Japan. REUTERS/Issei Kato

Tech-Savvy Farmers a New Hope for Japan’s Shrinking Agriculture Sector
A new breed of business- and tech-savvy farmers are transforming Japan's shrinking agriculture sector with cutting edge techniques and marketing strategies, giving new hope to an industry in slow decline. Such changes, while small, come as Prime Minister Abe pushes to reform Japan's hidebound farm industry where small-plot holdings still dominate. The average farmer is aged over 66 and the sector's contribution to the economy has fallen by 25% since its peak in 1984.

Is That Food to Go? It May Not Be in Plastic Much Longer
The global war on plastic may have a new leader: the Tasmanian city of Hobart. The City Council agreed to draft legislation that would phase out single-use plastic containers and cutlery by 2020. Pressure to get rid of various forms of plastic food packaging is growing around the world, though Hobart would go further: Even biodegradable plastic would be off-limits.

Yale Scientists Developing Method to Distill Sea Water
Desalination, or the removal of salt and minerals from water to make it drinkable, or usable for watering crops, typically requires a large amount of energy, according to Menachem Elimelech, a professor of environmental and chemical engineering at Yale University. Now however, with a combination of the sun and nanoparticles, Elimelech knows it doesn’t have to be.

When the Prescription Is a Recipe
The doctor’s office is moving into the kitchen. After years of telling patients to skip junk food and prepare homemade meals, a growing number of doctors are going a step further and teaching them how to cook. Some are building teaching kitchens or creating food pantries right next to their practices. Others are prescribing culinary education programs in hopes of improving their patients’ nutrition and overall health. Some medical schools have even introduced culinary curriculums to train more doctors to talk to patients about food.


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


| By Laura Glenn O'Carroll

Climate Solutions, Economic Growth, Global Stability? Rural Girls Hold the Key

The Chicago Council on Global Affairs is thrilled to announce a new blog series, Stakeholder Girls, which highlights the central role that rural girls must play in consideration of the 2018 G7 priority theme areas. Each week in June, as the leadership of the G7 meets, we will discuss the central role of rural girls in responding to climate change, preparing for the future of work, economic growth and equality, and building a more secure world. If leaders do not consider the unique strengthens and concerns of rural girls, progress on each of these themes will be curtailed.

| By April Dodd

Guest Commentary - World Milk Day Celebrates Small Farmers

Farmers worldwide care for about 365 million dairy cattle. In developing countries, most farmers’ herds are very small, containing just 2-3 cows on average. Small herds support family nutrition and are sources of year-round income through milk sales.