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

TechnoServe farmer trainer Rewuda Nuradin consults with Eshetu Abote, a member of the Shegole coffee farming cooperative, in his corn field in western Ethiopia.



US Food Aid Reform is Long Overdue

There are rumors that U.S. food aid programs could see major changes in the next budget, including converting some of the Food for Peace program into straight cash grants instead of in-kind food assistance.


Photo of the Week

A One Acre Fund farmer in Nyamasheke District, Rwanda, applies microbuses of fertilizer to her fields as she plants climbing beans.

Agriculture Reflection

When young people are faced with the big question, “What do you want to do when you grow up?” agriculture is usually not an expected response.






Photo of the Week

Farmers load up bags of fertilizer on bicycles at input delivery in Matulo village, Kenya.

Roger Thurow - Outrage and Inspire - Forward Ever

The young man from the farm was looking smart in an olive green suit, salmon tie and cufflinks.  His black shoes were a bit scuffed, but his English was polished.  “We are moving forward,” he said.  “Forward ever, backward never.”


Photo of the Week

One Acre Fund farmers in Chwele District, Kenya attend a training on how to plant millet. They are comparing the length of their fingers as they are told to plant their millet seeds as deep as the second knuckle on their index finger.