February 12, 2018

Big Ideas and Emerging Innovations

A vendor arranges bananas at a wet market in Klang, outside Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. REUTERS/Lai Seng Sin
Most low-income people globally live in rural areas, and 65 percent of poor working adults earn their living through agriculture. Therefore, a great deal of tomorrow’s youth population will be working in the agriculture and food sector. Investments to make their work more productive are up to four times more effective in raising incomes for the poorest poor than investments in other sectors.
A Japanese farm introduced a new crop this winter: an organic banana with a peel that's thin enough to eat. Farms plant its seedlings in very chilly conditions (minus 76 degrees Fahrenheit) and then thaw and replant them at warmer temperatures. The temperature-shifted bananas grow from seedlings to fruit and an interesting side effect of the process is a thinner banana peel. Without any pesticides, the peel is edible.
Maha Al Muhairi has developed an energy-efficient automated system, FreshFridge, that lets people grow a wide range of herbs and micro-greens in their kitchen. The temperature, water, humidity, and light are controlled via sensors, cameras, and an app. This technology has the potential to start a movement in urban farming in the Middle East.
Ripple's main value prop lies in Ripptein, the proprietary pea protein used across its suite of products, which includes pea milk, coffee creamer, and a Greek yogurt alternative. The trademarked product is extracted from peas in a process that isolates the protein from elements of the pea associated with its flavor. With its largest funding round to date, the plant-based milk company brings its total funding to $108.6 million.
Scientists at Penn State think they've found a way for astronauts to create food with help from their own human waste. Scientists collect the solid and liquid waste from the astronaut and put it into a reactor where they have a mixed group of bacteria that break that waste down. The process can grow a bacterium already in use today as an animal feed.
Researchers at the USDA were able to identify roosters with strong immune systems by testing to see which ones had naturally high levels of two particular chemicals in their blood. Birds with high levels of these chemicals have an increased ability to ward off dangerous pathogens. That could be a huge boon to public health and could save billions of dollars along the way.


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