January 25, 2016

Big Ideas and Emerging Innovations

REUTERS/Antony Njuguna

Bigwigs Have Big Ideas for Cutting Our Food Waste in Half
Two initiatives announced in Davos aim to reduce the environmental and economic cost of wasted food. The first is run by a patchwork coalition including Nestlé, WWF, Unilever, and the AU and aims to cut global food waste in half by 2030. The second is a $130 million project of the Rockefeller Foundation that will target post-harvest spoilage of food in sub-Saharan Africa. The two initiatives’ focus on food lost along supply chains represents a shift away from the classic approach to food waste reduction that targets consumers. 
Why the Future Is Bright for the World’s Poorest Farmers
In the past 20 years, digital technology has gradually insinuated itself into poor people’s lives in ways I never could have predicted. For example, about two-thirds of Africans now have mobile phones, and pretty soon cellular coverage will be more or less universal. The power of a phone in every pocket is turning out to be extremely disruptive in exciting ways—and the poor finally have a chance to use technology in ways that solve the real problems they face in their lives.
A Little Drama Can Be Good for You
HarvestPlus is excited to partner with Farm Radio and TRAC FM for a second season of radio drama “My Children,” a program which educates Ugandan farmers about the nutritional benefits of biofortified crops. Last season, listeners were encouraged to try planting orange-fleshed sweet potatoes, and demand for vines outstripped supply after the program aired. Listeners also engaged with the storyline by participating in polls via text. More than 40,000 listeners sent over 100,000 text messages as part of these polls during season 1.
Pass the Dogfish Nuggets? Seafood Industry Rebrands 'Trash'
New England's traditional fish has long been the Atlantic cod, but it has faded in the face of overfishing and environmental changes. Restaurant owners, fishermen, and food processing companies said a growing shift to “trash fish” is helping to fill that void. This shift reflects a broader trend in seafood toward species that are more abundant. Creating a market for underutilized fish species is important because of warming waters and corresponding changes in fish populations.
Researchers Test a Possible Drought Solution by Flooding an Almond Farm
The El Niño rainstorm had already turned Nick Blom's almond orchard into a quagmire. Still, he wheeled open the lid of a massive irrigation pipe. Fifteen minutes later, a gurgling belch heralded a gush of water that surged over the lip of the pipe and spread across five acres of almond trees. Blom is a volunteer in an experiment run by UC Davis that could offer a partial solution to perennial water shortages, and in the process, challenge some long-standing tenets of flood control and farming.
What Mobile Tech Innovation Offers Food Security
In 2012, the WFP’s Department of Vulnerability Analysis and Mapping piloted mobile Vulnerability Analysis and Mapping (mVAM) in the DRC, to collect food security data remotely via mobile phones using short surveys and interviews, texting, and an Interactive Voice Response system. Doing the same job by traditional surveys takes anywhere from four to six weeks; using mVAM takes only one week and is 60% cheaper.


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