August 20, 2018

Big Ideas and Emerging Innovations

 
The Nigerian biotech startup Coating+ has created a transparent gelatinous coating that is sprayed onto fresh fruit and vegetables to prolong their shelf life. It’s made using a combination of chitosan—a sugar extracted from shrimp shells—along with soy protein and micronutrients, and its preservation qualities are set to save farmers money on unsold produce. Moreover, Coating+ is helping shore up waste in the aquaculture industry and combat micronutrient and protein-energy malnutrition in Africa.
 
Biotech firm Calyxt’s soybean oil, the industry’s first true gene-edited food, could make its way into products as soon as the end of this year. Unlike older genetic modification methods, the new techniques are precise, fast, and inexpensive, and companies hope they will avoid the negative reputation and regulatory hurdles that hobbled the first generation of genetically modified foods.
 
Bird Control Group started out in Europe, for the most part designing lasers to shoo pesky birds away from industrial sites and airports. In the US market, the agricultural industry appears to be the most promising. The silent lasers proved a friendlier—and sometimes better—bird repellent than traditional tools such as propane cannons or squawk boxes. The lasers are also friendlier than using poison or a 12-gauge shotgun.
 
For thousands of years, people from a mountainous region in southern Mexico, have been cultivating an unusual variety of giant corn. They grow the crop on soils that are poor in nitrogen and they barely use any additional fertilizer. And yet, their corn towers over conventional varieties, reaching heights of more than 16 feet. The secret of the corn’s success lies in its aerial roots which drop with a tick, clear mucus that’s loaded with bacteria.
 
Social entrepreneur Jehiel Oliver and his organization, Hello Tractor, have demonstrated another use of Uber’s ride-sharing technology: fighting poverty and scarcity in Africa’s remote rural communities. The company is helping engage the growing youth population in agriculture by connecting tractor owners to farmers through a digital app. In just a few short years, the organization has reached more than 250,000 smallholder African farmers.
 

About

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.

Blogroll

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

Archive


Photo of the Week

Like most women in the Maasai community in Kenya, Elizabeth Talash Naikoni is up at dawn to milk her cows.


Interview with Ren Wang: Empowering Smallholder Farmers

Ren Wang, assistant director general of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, explains why we must support smallholder farmers through knowledge, market access, and technology in order to achieve global food security.



Video Notes - Ruth K. Oniang'o on the importance of empowering women farmers

Ruth K. Oniang'o, Founder and Editor-in-chief of the African Journal of Food, Agriculture, Nutrition and Development, as well as the Founder and CEO of Rural Outreach Africa, addresses gender mainstreaming in agriculture and how empowering women farmers can improve nutrition and health.


Photo of the Week

A farmer in Rwanda shells her maize after harvesting.




Interview with Barbara Schaal

Professor Barbara Schaal discusses the importance of investing in agriculture research to meet the demands of the future.




Commentary - Putting Food and Farming on the Post-2015 Development Agenda

While the climate talks in Warsaw continue to sideline the world’s one billion farmers from the policy discussions, another UN process – the post-2015 development agenda – offers another opportunity for the agricultural sector to contribute to the future sustainable development challenges ahead of us.


Photo of the Week

A farmer in Gitwa, Rwanda, reads a training at one of the input delivery sites.