February 1, 2016

Big Ideas and Emerging Innovations

Women sort coffee beans at a coffee factory in Hanoi, Vietnam. REUTERS/Kham

How Can Coffee Become a Better Tool for Development
While the fair trade movement is credited with bringing the plight of the farmer to the attention of consumers, it is criticized for many of the steps it has taken along the way. Looking for alternatives to fair trade, coffee roasters and retailers from boutique shops to big brands are adopting other certifications or developing programs of their own. So what can the global development community do to support the approaches that work?

Finnish ‘Pulled Oats’ Maker Wants a Bite of the Meat Substitutes Market
Nordic oats and broad beans are the main ingredients for a new plant-based product that looks like pulled pork and tastes a bit like chicken which a Finnish start-up company hopes will soon be tempting consumers' growing appetite for meat substitutes. Maija Itkonen and Reetta Kivela, founders of the Finnish food technology start-up Gold and Green Foods, call the product "pulled oats."
Food Testing Start-Up Looks to Stand out with a New Wrinkle
Companies big and small are looking for ways to make food testing faster, more accurate, and less expensive. A Philadelphia start-up, Invisible Sentinel, has developed a patented technology called Veriflow that uses a hand-held device to detect the DNA of micro-organisms like E. coli, salmonella, and listeria quickly and at a relatively affordable price. The technology has been approved by AOAC International, an association that sets standards for microbial food testing.
Japan Begins Work on 'World's Largest' Floating Solar Farm
The Japanese electronics multinational Kyocera has begun work on what it says will be the world’s biggest floating solar farm, able to provide electricity for nearly 5000 households when it is completed in 2018. Space-starved Japan has already seen several floating solar farms built as part of the country’s drive to exploit more renewable energy in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima disaster. The main reason to build on water is a lack of space, as building on land is cheaper.
Building a Farmer-Centered Movement for Seed Biodiversity
It’s estimated that nine out of every 10 bites of food people eat every day is because of planting of seeds. And that’s why it’s so important to protect the world’s seed supply. The Bauta Family Initiative for Canadian Seed Security is an organization that works closely with farmers to build a more secure, diverse supply of seeds.


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