August 25, 2014

Big Ideas and Emerging Innovations

REUTERS/China Daily

Seeing Purpose and Profit in Algae
Although algae grow prodigiously and contain potentially useful molecules, extracting those molecules has proved complicated and expensive. But a US company has a pilot plant that can turn a profit making diesel fuel from algae by making clean water from municipal sewage, using the carbon-heavy residue as fertilizer, and generating valuable credits for advanced biofuels, all simultaneously.

New Technology Helps Farmers Conserve Fertilizer and Protect their Crops
Nitrogen is applied by farmers to agriculture fields all over the world, and much of it is lost to the atmosphere and waterways. Researchers hope they’ve created the beginnings of a solution: a new software program helps farmers save money and mitigate environmental impact by giving them the information needed to determine how and when to apply nitrogen fertilizer.

Mobile Payments: How Digital Finance is Transforming Agriculture
In East Africa, where urban centers have become saturated with mobile money, mobile payments to farmers can be economically viable for value chains. The alignment between mobile money providers, large agriculture buyers, and farmers presents a win-win scenario for everybody.

Gateway Bug: How Crickets Could Hook America on Eating Insects
Crickets, which are sustainable and nutritious, have emerged in the past year as something of a food fad; ironically, farming these insects is quite costly, ranging from $20 to $40 per pound. But if the cost of farming drops, crickets appear likely to become a regular part of American diets given their merits, including high protein content and low carbon footprint.


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

Our New Gordian Knot

Fifty years ago Dr. Norman Borlaug recieved the Nobel Peace Prize for cutting the "Goridan knot" of population and food production. Now the planet faces another seemingly intractable problem: how to nourish the planet while preserving the planet.