May 24, 2019

Global Food for Thought: China in Africa | Drought | Emissions

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From Scarcity to Security: Managing Water for a Nutritious Food Future STORY

New Report: Addressing China’s Rising Influence in Africa
The United States has been one of the African continent’s most important partners for decades, but new dynamics are changing the status quo. Specifically, China’s foreign investment has increased significantly in the past two decades, rising to prominence and beginning to fundamentally reshape the physical and political landscape of the continent.

A new issue brief from Chicago Council on Global Affairs fellow, Michael Tiboris, examines strategies that the United States should employ in order to ensure sustainable prosperity for both Africa and the United States.

Check out the report now. OF THE WEEK

A worker sorts avocados at a farm factory in Nelspruit in Mpumalanga province. (REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko) ACTORS 

Pyongyang Raises Alarm Over Drought: Four in ten North Korean are chronically short of food, and after the worst harvest in decades, the United Nations is predicting further food rationing. Many families already survive on lean diets of rice and kimchi and consume very little protein. An ongoing drought is causing a significant reduction in the harvest of wheat, barley, corn, potatoes, and beans and rainfall is now the lowest level since 1917.

SEE ALSO: Drought-hit Australia to Import Wheat for First Time in 12 Years

Deere & Co Blames Trade Wars for Lower Profits: The company best known for their tractors and combines missed quarterly profit estimates for the fifth-straight quarter as an increasingly tense US-China trade war continues. Deere earns 60 percent of its sales in North America. INSIGHTS

June 13 Event: Water and Sustainability – The Conversation Continues in Chicago
By 2050, over half of the world’s population could be at risk due to stress on water resources. How will we grow an adequate quantity—and quality—of food to feed and nourish a rapidly growing, urbanizing world in the face of increasing water insecurity? The release of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs’ new report From Scarcity to Security: Managing Water for a Nutritious Food Future highlighted the critical nature of this issue, the obstacles to be resolved, and the innovative solutions that will help us achieve water- and food-security.

Register today to hear from some of these thought leaders and innovators in this rapid-fire flashtalk series program! AND AGRICULTURAL ISSUES

Soil Erosion Washes Away $8 Billion Annually: Not only a major threat to agricultural productivity, soil erosion by water may also generate many off-site impacts including sedimentation, flooding, and landslides. According to a recent study, soil erosion is estimated to incur an annual cost of $8 billion dollars to global GDP as well as 33.7 million tones in reduced global food production.

Drought Effects in Afghanistan Exacerbated by War: Afghanistan is currently experiencing its worst drought in a decade and negative impacts are magnified by poor infrastructure, conflict, and climate change. Naturally, Afghanistan has abundant water resources from snowfields and glaciers in the Hindu Kush and Himalaya mountains; seasonal melts typically fuel five river basins. But the country’s infrastructure has fallen into ruin, destroying irrigation and canals.

Study Maps Increase in Non-CO2 Emissions from Cropland: Agriculture is the world’s largest source of non-carbon dioxide greenhouse gas emissions like methane and nitrous oxide. A new study examines the increase in emissions over the past 30 years and found that as methane emissions have decreased, nitrous oxide has increased. DIVE

Afghanistan Water Crisis: The region is facing a double onslaught of both droughts and flooding, as three years of droughts lead to land degradation and desertification. Before the floods, nearly 6.3 million people in Afghanistan were already in need of humanitarian aid. When heavy snow and precipitation fell earlier this year, flash floods resulted in damages in nine provinces affecting more than a quarter million people. CRUNCH

New Study Examines the Link between Diet and Breast Cancer: A massive, long-term, national health study launched in 1993 with nearly 50,000 women has found that women following a low-fat, high vegetable diet had a 21 percent lower risk of dying from breast cancer than women following a standard diet. Researchers are not sure if the health benefits were related to the low-fat or high vegetable aspects of the participants diet

Two Million Now Face Starvation in Somalia: The FAO has raised alarm over a disastrous drought in Somalia where 2.2 million people—nearly 18 percent of the population—are now facing severe hunger. The drought conditions greatly affected crop and livestock production.

Food Security Is Not Just Food Sufficiency: Tanzania, where agricultural commodities are the major exports, has always been a surplus producer of staple foods. However, the concept of food security should be understood at a broader level than only food sufficiency, since the country faces high level of malnutrition. The WFP Representative in Tanzania, Michael Dunford advised Tanzania to increase access to healthy, nutritious food in Tanzania. IDEAS

Are Farmers Ready To Pioneer Using Precision Agriculture Technologies?: Prospera, an Israeli AgTech company, has worked with several high-value greenhouse growers in the past and successfully helped them to reduce the usage of water and fertilizers by 30 percent—without affecting their yields—by introducing its digital farming system. Through a new partnership with irrigation company Valley, Prospera hopes to deploy its technology in open-air farming. REPORT

With Agency Relocation Plans, USDA Researchers Quit in Droves: A plan to relocate the Economic Research Service (ERS) and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) has led to an unexpectedly high number of attritions among the researchers that populate the agencies. During the previous administration, ERS employed around 300 workers and NIFA had 400. More than 130 sites across the country have been proposed as new locations for the agencies, but a decision has not yet been made. & COMMODITIES

Meat Prices are Set to Climb as Swine Fever Claims China’s Hogs: China produces and consumes two-thirds of the world’s pork, but African swine fever has decimated China’s hog supplies, pushing up pork prices by up to 40 percent. As Chinese buyers has canceled orders of American pork in the midst of the tariff war, Spanish, Germany, and Canada are filling the import demand.

SEE ALSO: Inventor of Vegan Pork Product Hopes to Cash in on China Pig Cull

China Institutes Tough Rules for Avocado Farmers: Many Kenyan farmers have faulted the stringent phytosanitary requirements imposed by the Chinese inspectors after an avocado trade deal inked last month by the two countries. Farmers are required to peel and freeze the fruit before it is exported. Seventy percent of Kenyan avocado growers are small-scale farmers who could not afford to meet these requirements. EVENTS

Global Launch of the UN Decade of Family Farming, 2019-2028
Date: May 27-29
Location: Rome, Italy

EAT Stockholm Food Forum 2019
Date: Jun 12-13
Location: Stockholm, Sweden
Water and Sustainability – The Conversation Continues in Chicago
Date: June 13
Location: Chicago, IL
1st International Conference on Agroecology Transforming Agriculture & Food Systems in Africa
Date: June 18-21
Location: Nairobi, Kenya

Please share any tips or thoughts on what we can do better here.


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.