March 19, 2018

Big Ideas and Emerging Innovations

Blue River Technology has developed an advanced algorithm to enable robots to make decisions about whether or not a plant is a pest, and then deliver a measured blast of chemical pesticides to tackle the unwanted pests. Farm equipment and services giant John Deere acquired the start-up late last year and added it to the catalog of high tech, data-powered services it already offers its customers.
The World Food Program integrated blockchain technology into a food voucher system for Syrian refugees, eliminating the need to pay banks to facilitate transactions. By using blockchain applications, individuals may be able to build up transaction and credit history over time and then use those records across borders as a form of identity without depending on a centralized authority to vouch for them.
The Dot Power Platform is a prime example of an explosion in advanced agricultural technology, which Goldman Sachs predicts will raise crop yields 70 percent by 2050. The tireless machine can run around the clock, pausing only to refuel its 75-gallon diesel tank, and will save growers an estimated 20 percent in fuel, labor, and equipment costs. The first six Dots will be sold to farmers in Canada this spring.
Many wild fisheries are already at or past their sustainable capacity, so efforts to make fish farming more productive are vital. Ocean Farm 1 is the first of six experimental open-ocean fish farms and the largest in the world. It aims to automate what is an expensive and difficult business, and to solve two key problems that occur in near-shore aquaculture: that there is not enough space and that it is too polluting.
Flippy, the burger-flipping robot, was supposed to revolutionize a California fast food kitchen, churning out 150 burgers per hour without requiring a paycheck or benefits. But after a single day of work, Flippy was temporarily decommissioned for failing to keep up with demand. The robot’s presence raises questions about the future of jobs as technology grows more advanced.


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