October 9, 2017

Big Ideas and Emerging Innovations

An Indonesian villager dries cassavas in Yogyakarta in Indonesia's central Java. REUTERS/Dadang Tri
Researchers have developed a smartphone-based program that can automatically detect diseases in cassava, the most widely grown root crop on Earth.  It’s a glimpse at a future in which farmers in the developing world trade the expertise of a handful of specialists for increasingly powerful technology. Researchers say they can adapt the system to work with other crops relatively easily.
A pair of wine distillers discovered that the sugars in almost-stale bread, bagels, and cakes destined for the landfill could be distilled into premium vodka. They make all of their wine from these bakery products by collection 1,200 pounds a week. Each bottle vodka is made with two pounds of food waste.
Researchers at the University of California, Riverside have tested a genetically-modified soybean oil used in restaurants and found that while it induces less obesity and insulin resistance than conventional soybean oil, its effects on diabetes and fatty liver are similar to those of conventional soybean oil. Soybean oil is the major vegetable cooking oil used in the United States, and its popularity is on the increase worldwide.
The UN Development Program recently announced the winners of the 2017 Equator Prize, recognizing 15 local and indigenous communities across Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Swayam Shikshan Prayog in Maharashtra, India, won for its unique, women-led, and climate-resilient agroecological farming model.
Climate policies that target agriculture and forests could lead to increased food prices, but reducing deforestation and increasing soil carbon sequestration in agriculture could significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions while avoiding risk to food security. As countries look to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, many see potential in their forests and farms
As the global demand for cheap meat grows, the expansion of agricultural land is putting more pressure on our forests, rivers, and oceans. Regenerative farming–a broad term that includes all sorts of practices such as rotational grazing, tree planting, improving soils, reducing chemical inputs, silvopasture and increasing biodiversity–is our only hope and a movement whose time has come.


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 Millicent Yeboah-Awudzi

Next Generation 2018 - Dreams of Change

Our 12th post in the Next Generation blog series is by Millicent Yeboah-Awudzi, PhD candidate in applied plant science at Louisiana State University.