November 17, 2014

Big Ideas and Emerging Innovations

A woman picks tea leaves at a plantation in Nandi Hills, in Kenya's highlands region west of capital Nairobi (REUTERS/Noor Khami)

Kenyan Farmers Profit from the Sun to Water Crops
For subsistence farmers in rain-scarce Kenya, drip irrigation can mean the difference between hand-to-mouth survival and being able to grow an agricultural business. The company SunCulture aims to break new ground by circumventing diesel and powering drip systems with solar energy.

Off the Map
The lack of reliable data in poor countries thwarts both development and disaster-relief. The result is that officials and aid organizations struggle to set and evaluate policies. A group of charities unveiled, a joint initiative to produce free, detailed maps of cities across the developing world—before humanitarian crises erupt, not during them.
Farm Startup Seeks to Profit from Harvesting Big Data
Farmobile LLC, a one-year-old startup, wants to develop an online marketplace where farmers can store reams of information on planting, pesticide applications, and crop yields and, if the farmer chooses, sell that data to farm-supply companies or commodities traders. The effort comes as new technology is being put to work across the US Farm Belt.
Climate Tools Seek to Bend Nature’s Path
The effects of climate change may become so severe that geoengineering solutions, which intentionally manipulate nature, could attract more serious consideration in the future. However, many people view the idea of geoengineering as an approach to climate change that would distract the world from the goal of eliminating the emissions that are causing the problem in the first place.


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 Janet Fierro

Guest Commentary - Rural Niger Women find Opportunity and Hope through Innovative Business Model

When researchers set out to find natural ways to manage a crop-destroying pest in sub-Saharan Africa cowpea fields they knew the results could have significant positive impact on smallholder farmers. What they may not have expected was the significance of the cottage industry it inspired and the entrepreneurial spirit of the rural women of Niger who led it.