September 8, 2015

Big Ideas and Emerging Innovations

REUTERS/Juan Carlos Ulate

When They’re Not Busy Weaving Leaves, These Ants Make Great Insecticides
According to new research, ants can control pests as efficiently, and much more cheaply, than pesticides. Farmers spend about $4 billion on pesticides annually, according to the EPA, and its latest research from 2007 shows that 5.2 billion pounds of pesticides are used globally every year. Millions of hard working ants could potentially make a big dent in that.
Farming Flicks Help Teach Ag Skills Where They’re Really Needed
Farming is the occupation for roughly 70 percent of the world’s poor, and these farmers mostly live in rural areas with bad roads. That makes this a hard problem — but an important one — to solve. Improve agriculture, the economic lynchpin of these communities, and maybe you can improve people’s quality of life too. Digital Green, an international nonprofit that combines technology with face-to-face outreach, is hoping that they’ve found a way to spread knowledge more cheaply and quickly. Small groups of people produce videos that show simple, easy-to-adopt farming techniques, like better ways to prepare planting beds or sow seeds. Digital Green hopes that farmers take what they learn from the videos and apply it in their fields.
Denmark Might Be Winning the Global Race to Prevent Food Waste
Danes' increasing willingness to buy and consume items like just-expired dairy products has helped make them, arguably, the world champions in the fight against food waste. While buying these items might once have been considered a sign of poverty for consumers, it's now a badge of pride.

Where is the 'Electric Car' For the Agriculture Industry?
The “electric car of agriculture” might be right under our nose (or rather, under our feet): soil. Soils store three times more carbon than does the atmosphere, but this capability to store carbon has been rapidly depleted in many areas. Despite this overall decline, a variety of farming techniques including compost application, rotational grazing and low tillage have begun to emerge and offer ways to enhance the natural soil carbon sink. Collectively, this portfolio of “carbon farming” techniques offers the opportunity to prove the electric vehicles (EVs) of agriculture. Here’s how.


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.