April 16, 2018

Big Ideas and Emerging Innovations

REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne
“The Intelligent Dairy Farmer’s Assistant,” called IDA, uses artificial intelligence to track cows’ tiniest movements through their collars in order to assess diet and movement and predict health issues. The farmers showed interested in IDA as they’re in a labor crunch from years of too few young people getting into farming and need all the help they can get.
Experts are increasingly interested in uses that improve value chains in agricultural food systems in low and middle-income countries. Because more people in these areas earn a living from agriculture, blockchain stands to alleviate poverty while improving food security prospects for everyone.
Agribusiness companies may be on the cusp of a buying spree in technology as climate change emerges as the biggest disrupting element for the business. Technological improvements from boosting crop yields to data-tracking systems will be required in coming decades as companies adapt to shifts in weather patterns. That may increasingly push agribusiness companies, especially grain handlers and input firms, into acquiring agritech startups.
The Shuler family has invested in robotic technology that milks their cows without human labor or intervention. The family can monitor the process on surveillance video from their smartphones and fix errors via text message. This will help workers stay on the farm by providing them with more freedom and time away from the demands of the industry.
South Dakota State University as the only school in the nation that offers a 4-year precision-ag degree will build a precision-ag facility that will be the only one of its kind. This will provide an opportunity for the university to build upon what it is already doing and lead the nation—and likely the world—in precision-ag research, development, and training, sparking advancements in technology and equipment.


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 Roger Thurow

I am Gita

Roger Thurow's essay "I Am Gita" from The End of Hunger, edited by Jenny Eaton Dyer and Cathleen Falsani.

| By Marshall M. Bouton

India's Mandate for Agricultural Reform

Chicago Council President Emeritus Marshall M. Bouton discusses challenges facing Indian agriculture and potential reforms to meet the government's goal of doubling farmer incomes by 2022.