January 11, 2016

Big Ideas and Emerging Innovations

REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker

Agriculture Is Big Threat to Water Quality. These Farmers Are Doing Something About It.
Farmers are becoming more aware of nutrient pollution and agriculture’s contribution to it. And, a growing number of them are adopting practices known to curb, if not eliminate, nutrient pollution. Such practices include new conservation strategies, like artificial wetlands and underground “bioreactors,” that can capture nutrients in drainage systems.
In Cambodia, ‘Lucky’ Iron Fish for the Cooking Pot Could Fight Anemia
Iron deficiency is a widespread problem that causes anemia and presents a huge drain on global GDP. Iron tablets can help, and pregnant women are often prescribed them. But, compliance rates in developing countries aren't very good. However, Canadian student Christopher Charles came up with a simple alternative: Give people a fish-shaped block of iron to drop into their cooking pots. The iron gets released slowly as the water boils and released into the food cooked in it, too.
The Skeptical Optimist Helping Poor People Boost Earnings – and Resilience
Groundswell International helps small-scale farmers experiment with agroecological innovations to improve food production and give them a better variety of food to eat. At heart is the idea that farmers will share information and techniques with each other, while local governments will get involved and eventually shape national policies.
Drones Set to Give Global Farming a Makeover
The ability of unmanned aerial vehicles to hover low over fields of maize, sweet potato, and rice with sensor devices promises benefits for individual farmers and their communities. For governments and development agencies, drones can provide more accurate, up-to-date information on what is being grown where. For individual farmers, this kind of information could be the difference between a failed crop and a bumper harvest.
Gene Drives Offer New Hope against Diseases and Crop Pests
Biologists in the US and Europe are developing a revolutionary genetic technique that promises to provide an unprecedented degree of control over insect-borne diseases and crop pests. The technique involves a mechanism called a gene drive system, which propels a gene of choice throughout a population. Gene drives could potentially prevent the spread of disease, support agriculture by reversing pesticide and herbicide resistance in insects and weeds, and control damaging invasive species.


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