August 10, 2015

Big Ideas and Emerging Innovations

REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

How Cleaner Cow Burps Could Help Fight Climate Change
Overall, the livestock supply chain emits 44 percent of the globe’s human caused methane. So anything you could do to cut down on cow belching would, literally, help save the planet. One fundamental way of fixing the problem involves trying to change the chemistry of what’s happening in cows’ rumens. For some time now, the Dutch life sciences and materials company DSM has been pursuing such a solution, which it appropriately calls its “Clean Cow” project.
To Feed Billions, Farms Are about Data as Much as Dirt
The world’s largest producer of autonomous four-wheeled vehicles isn’t Tesla or Google, it’s John Deere. And the cab of one of these self-driving tractors is now so full of screens and tablets that it has come to resemble the cockpit of a passenger jet. Data-centric companies with Silicon Valley pedigrees, like 2 1/2-year-old Granular and aerial surveillance startup DroneDeploy, have the ability to tap into all this machinery and run farms as efficiently as Google runs its data centers.
In Honduras, a Wellspring of New Tools to Tackle Drought
Gabino López Vargas and Gumersindo Rodriguez think they’ve found a way to counter conditions that threaten more than 2 million people in Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua. It’s a model based on “harvesting” water, diversifying crops, and avoiding practices like burning farmland between crop cycles. And they’re working to see that their project spreads.
Green Pie in the Sky? Vertical Farming Is on the Rise in Newark
From the outside, the AeroFarms headquarters looks like any other rundown building in downtown Newark, NJ. It used to be a store, and more recently a nightclub. Now it's a test farm. The company's products grow under intense LED grow lights, while their roots are bathed in a nutrient-rich mist. Supporters of vertical farming say it uses less energy transporting food to market, while also requiring less water and pesticides than traditional agriculture.


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. 

| 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.