August 28, 2017

Big Ideas and Emerging Innovations

A herd of sheep and goats gathers near a family farm near the Cheder Lake outside the village of Kur-Cher in Tuva region, Southern Siberia, Russia. The region is inhabited by Tuvans, historically cattle-herding nomads, who nowadays practise two main confessions - Buddhism and Shamanism. REUTERS/Ilya Naymushin

How to Buy a Goat When You're Really Poor? Join a 'Merry-Go-Round' 
Mary Abagi has spent most of her life eking out a living by growing crops on a tiny plot of land in her Kenyan village. Then, Abagi learned that the village had been picked for an unusual experiment that promised to change her life. An American charity called GiveDirectly is giving every adult in the village $22 every month for the next 12 years. Abagi's first thought: "I will save the money to buy a goat." And to do that, Abagi has turned to a special kind of savings club the villagers call a "merry-go-round."

Cargill Invests in Startup That Grows 'Clean Meat' from Cells
Cargill Inc. is betting you won’t always need cattle to make hamburgers. The agricultural conglomerate has invested in Memphis Meats Inc., a startup developing technology to grow meat from self-reproducing animal cells. The stake marks the first investment by a traditional meat company in the nascent “clean meat” sector, where startups are creating products they say are better for the environment than meat derived from traditional feedlots and slaughterhouses.

Children Suffer 30% of Global Foodborne Disease Deaths – Blockchain to the Rescue
Almost one-third of all deaths from foodborne diseases are in children under the age of five, a statistic that remains stubbornly unchanged despite advances in food safety. But applying blockchain to the food supply may advance food safety: blockchain allows the supply chain to be read backwards, showing where everything on the shelves actually came from: source, lot number, and so on. It’s a new frontier for traceability.

Scientists Hope to Farm the Biofuel of the Future in the Pacific Ocean
The push for renewable energy often focuses on well-established sources of electricity: solar, wind, and hydropower. Off the coast of California, a team of researchers is working on what they hope will become an energy source of the future: macroalgae, also known as kelp. Kelp is one of the fastest-growing plants on Earth, and farming it requires no fertilizer, fresh water, pesticides, or arable land, and can be turned into bio-oil through a process called thermochemical liquefaction.

This Is Why When You Talk about Climate Change, You Can't Ignore Agriculture
Agriculture has historically released almost as much carbon into the atmosphere as deforestation, a new study suggests. Researchers have found that land use changes associated with planting crops and grazing livestock have caused a loss of 133 billion tons of carbon from soil worldwide over the last 12,000 years. At least half of those losses have probably occurred in the last few centuries.


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.