July 30, 2018

Big Ideas and Emerging Innovations

A drone is seen during a demonstration for the media before a news conference by Chinese food delivery company Ele.me on its drone delivery service, in Shanghai, China May 29, 2018. REUTERS/Aly Song.
Alibaba’s food delivery platform Ele.me plans to command more than half of all food delivery transaction in China over the short- to medium-term in the midst of Alibaba’s revamped retail strategy, targeting the rise of smartphone-driven demand for food delivery. The company is counting on Chinese food delivery to grow transactions at a pace of at least 60 percent annually in the run-up to 2020. Right now, China has roughly eight million restaurants that are compatible with food delivery apps, but only one-fourth are connected to the internet.
The agricultural simulation game Farming Simulator, a long-running video game played by about one million people, could cultivate a new generation’s enthusiasm for a declining industry. In this way, Farming Simulator can act as a form of wish fulfilment for those unable to afford thousands of acres of land, or the largest or most technologically advanced farming machinery. Moreover, the app is introducing the mechanisms of farming to young people who are not as acquainted with the rural world as generations past.
BeGreen, a startup company in Belo Horizonte in Brazil, is producing fresh and organic produce inside the city’s main shopping center. BeGreen was launched with the goal of producing sustainable and healthy food for the urban community, while simultaneously reducing the amount of food wasted along the supply chain. The urban farm uses hydroponic methods to grow fresh and organic produce and sells it locally.
Faced with growing losses due to severe drought, farmers in the Zomba district of Malawi have come up with an innovative way to adapt: solar-powered pumps used to pull up underground water, and newly constructed water storage dams that are also used to farm fish. They have also begun growing drought-hardy sweet potatoes to supplement maize, the region’s increasingly at-risk staple.
A renewed government effort to draw Filipino scientists back to the Philippines by paying them to set up their own research labs or teach has been met with a mixed reception. In particular, the government is hoping to boost the number of agriculture scientists in order to solve some of the Philippines’ most pressing problems, namely climate change and climate migration. Critics are frustrated that the program directs more funds for studying abroad than encouraging local students to pursue degrees at Filipino universities.


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