December 4, 2017

Big Ideas and Emerging Innovations

Student volunteers walk through gerberas growing in a polyhouse in Satara district, south of Mumbai. / REUTERS/Vivek Prakash

“Thousands of Young People Ready to Build New Farms”
According to the 2017 National Young Farmer Survey, young farmers are operating smaller farms and are capitalizing on the demand for local food by selling directly to consumers. The main concerns for young farmers are access to land, student loan debt, availability of skilled labor, and access to health insurance. 

The Facilities Where Scientists Breed Plants to Survive the Future
Someday, greenhouses may be our last defense against large-scale crop loss. One such greenhouse, funded by the USDA, scans plant genomes to identify beneficial genes and uses tissue culture analysis to capture the desirable traits of one plant to introduce into another.

Knowledge Is the New Paradigm for the Future of Food and Agriculture
Agriculture is poised for another major transformation as gains from the Green Revolution come up against natural resource limits. The future of agriculture is not input-intensive, but knowledge-intensive. To provide people with healthier food, there must be action in each step of the food system.

Africa—Nurturing Young Entrepreneurs as the Next Generation of Hunger Fighters
The Electronic Wallet (E-Wallet) platform was introduced to Nigeria's food production and distribution chain. Through the E-Wallet, the Nigerian Government delivers subsidized farm inputs to local farmers through private agro-dealers. The farmers, in turn, get to redeem these subsidized inputs from the agro-dealers using e-vouchers, which they can access through their mobile phones.

Prickly Pear Cactus Is 'Miracle' Crop for Dry Regions: Experts
The spiky, alien-looking prickly pear cactus could help alleviate hunger in arid regions due to its ability to thrive in harsh conditions and its multiple uses. As climate change brings erratic rainfall and prolonged droughts, countries should look to the cactus pear, which can grow in desert-like conditions. Cactus pear plantations can function as a water reserve can absorb carbon dioxide in arid and semi-arid regions.

The Ancient Andean Tradition of Eating Clay May Have Helped To Protect Health
While there are many theories about the origins of clay eating, scientists now think this unusual culinary tradition may have served a protective purpose. There is preliminary evidence that clays from Andean highlands can detoxify wild potatoes, which naturally contain higher levels of toxins called glycoalkaloids, by absorbing their toxic chemicals. Modern day breeding has led to many non-toxic potato varieties.


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 Gene Alexander

A New Tool in the Fight Against Malnutrition

Traditional methods of evaluating childern for malnurition can be uncomfortable for the child and subject to human error. But 3D imagery technology offers a new way to gather data.