July 7, 2014

Big Ideas and Emerging Innovations

(A Haitian woman processes peanuts in front of her house. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz)

Social Enterprise in Haiti Transforms the Lives of Peanut Farmers
The Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership recently announced the launch of its latest social enterprise. Called Acceso Peanut Enterprise Corp., it’s aimed at the more than 12,000 small holder peanut farmers in Haiti. Usually, peanut farmers in Haiti work far from markets, so they pay intermediaries to transport the crops. Acceso buys directly from farmers—storing the food in strategically located warehouses—and then sells to five large buyers in Haiti, which, in turn, sell to the local market. The various Partnership ventures fall into one of three models: supply chain enterprises, distribution ventures, and training centers. The key to all these enterprises is the ability to be replicated quickly.

The Future of Agriculture May Be too Small to See. Think Microbes
There are thousands, maybe millions of kinds of fungi, bacteria, and other microbes that help plants in a variety of ways. But their role has been almost invisible to people. In fact, critics say, modern agriculture actively works against them. A growing field of researchers and entrepreneurs working to bring microorganisms like fungi back into the agricultural mix, but in a new and targeted way. Their goal is to find and develop fungi that make agriculture both more productive and more sustainable.

America is Running Out of Farm Workers. Will Robots Step In?
The US is likely to face a serious shortage of farm labor in the years ahead. So what happens then? One possibility is that robots could do more and more of our farming. Last October, the USDA handed out $4.5 million in grants for "robotics research." Projects included robots that could harvest strawberries and drones that can detect citrus diseases. Meanwhile, private companies are developing machines that can pluck oranges or whack weeds with minimal supervision. So is this the future? Here's a rundown of why America's running out of farmworkers—and whether robots will help fill the gap.

A Green Solution: How Urban and Peri-Urban Agriculture Can Help Central American Cities
Many major cities in Latin America and the Caribbean are turning to urban farming to address problems such as urban poverty and food insecurity. Havana uses organoponics, a farming technology that uses organic substrates, and now boasts 97 organoponic gardens. In Mexico City, urban and peri-urban agriculture can restore farming to the city that has lost its farmland to urban sprawl. In Lima, two water treatment plants that will treat one hundred percent of the city’s wastewater will be built at the end of 2014. Lima can irrigate the green areas in and around the city by recycling wastewater; this will meet the agricultural need for water as well as increase crop production and to ensure food and water safety.


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.