September 11, 2017

Big Ideas and Emerging Innovations

A South Sudanese child herds cows at dusk in Abyei town, in the area of Abyei that straddles the border between Sudan and South Sudan. REUTERS/Andreea Campeanu

Three Ways Extension Services Can Engage and Empower Rural Youth 
Rural youth form a substantial share of the population within developing countries and face high unemployment rates. Engaging youth in agricultural activities is a commonly cited solution, but making this work has remained elusive. Rural youth in many developing countries are facing significant challenges finding farming-related work. Filling the gap will require building the capacity of youth and more effectively linking them to information, technologies, improved practices, land and finance.

Scientists Try to Fight Crop Damage with an Invasive Moth's Own DNA
Cabbage has been under constant threat for decades, along with broccoli, kale, and other related leafy greens. The danger? A tiny insect called the diamondback moth, an invasive marauder that has spread across the world and mutated to become immune to new chemical pesticides designed to slay it. To curb the billions of dollars of damage caused annually by this moth’s larvae, scientists in New York are trying to turn the critter's own DNA against it. 

How Food Waste Could Fuel Your Car
We know that food waste is a major problem. According to the UN FAO, about 1.3 billion tons of food are wasted annually. In the US, this food waste builds up in landfills and releases methane, which is roughly thirty times worse for our environment than carbon dioxide. Many creative solutions have been devised to combat the food waste issue—some clever companies are turning food waste into booze and into new foods—while new paper has highlighted another use: Turning organic waste into a fuel source.

A New Kind of Packaging Cuts Food Waste, Replaces Plastic, and – If You're Still Hungry – You Can Eat It
It seems like all our food comes wrapped in multiple layers of plastic. Some of that packaging ends up in the ocean, where it harms the ecosystem and marine life. But newly developed packaging breaks down in water, and preserves food better than plastic. You can even eat it, if you like. A USDA recently created this new packaging from milk proteins, and they expect some form of it to be on store shelves in three years. 

The World Could Run out of Food Two Decades Earlier Than Thought
By 2027 the world could be facing a 214 trillion calorie deficit, says Sara Menker, founder and chief executive of Gro Intelligence, an agricultural data technology company. In other words, in just a decade, we won’t have enough food to feed the planet. Usually cited statistics, like the world would need to produce 70% more food than today to feed the world by 2050, quantify food production by weight. But when production is quantified by nutritional value, we run out sooner than expected. 


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.