If you would like to have the Global Food for Thought news brief delivered to your inbox, please sign up here.
Climate Change is Fueling Farmer Migration
Farmers, agricultural scientists, and industry officials in Central America say a new threat has been ruining harvests, upending lives, and adding to the surge of families migrating to the United States: climate change. Gradually rising temperatures, more extreme weather events and increasingly unpredictable patterns have disrupted growing cycles and promoted the relentless spread of pests. The obstacles have cut crop production or wiped out entire harvests, leaving already poor families destitute. According to researchers, Central America is among the regions most vulnerable to climate change.
PHOTO OF THE WEEK
An Iranian shepherd grazes his sheep on land set aside for livestock in northeastern Iran. (Reuters/Caren Firouz)
Worrisome Projections: A World Bank report warns that unless urgent rescue plans are employed, nine of every 10 African nations will be living in extreme poverty. Warning signs from both advanced and developing economies include the waning structural reforms in major economies, financial stress in some large emerging markets, and elevated policy uncertainty worldwide. Suggestions in the report included curbing corruption through public expenditure and transparency and accountability in local resource mobilization.
Chinese Food Aid: China has donated tons of rice to several African countries, including Somalia, to help avoid food insecurity. Armed conflict, climate-related disasters, and sluggish economies are the main causes of the food security struggles facing the country. China's donation will mainly support displaced people and refugees, many of whom are women and children.
From the Roots: Connecting Culture, Food, and Purpose
Food transcends beyond the plate, creating both pleasure and purpose. It defines our place in the world and the issues we care most about. This year’s James Beard Foundation honorees are recognized for their leadership within their communities, their contributions to their cultural heritage, and their utilization of farming and food as a form of advocacy for social good. On May 7, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs will host a conversation on how these leaders have elevated the issues of vulnerable groups through food and culture.
Register today to attend.
The event will be livestreamed
FOOD AND AGRICULTURAL ISSUES
Pig Projections: It has been projected that China, which produces about half the world’s pork, could see 200 million pigs culled or dead as Africa swine fever continues to spread. China now looks to import poultry from the United States and Brazil, as those projected deaths would mark a large portion of China’s pig herd. The spread of the swine fever has resulted in an expected jump of pork prices of more than 70 percent.
Climate Resistant Nut Trees: Scientists have shifted research with the assumption that there will be no more years of predictable weather, stating the need for climate resistant crops. They point to nut trees saying their deep roots that search out nutrients and water, making them a sustainable "super-crop." Orchards hold dirt in place and keep fertilizers from washing off and fouling waterways. Nuts are also slow to spoil, which means they could be a year-round staple rather than a seasonal treat.
India’s Job Crisis: Unemployment in India has reached a 45-year high in 2017. An estimate of 11 million jobs were lost in 2018, 84 percent of which occurred in rural areas. Low skilled and uneducated agricultural workers were among the most vulnerable. Women were also affected, with workforce participation rate fell by 3.3 percent from 1990 to 2018.
Indian Farm Workers Protest Conditions: For much of the past decade, smallholder farmers in India have called for debt relief and an increase in minimum price supports for crops. After long periods of drought and predatory loans, tens of thousands of farmers have come together to protest their conditions. As national elections run from April 11 to May 19, agricultural issues have moved to the forefront of the political debate.
Technology Relief: As climate change intensifies, farming becomes more difficult and less attractive to young would-be farmers. Technological advances hope to change this: mobile phone apps now look to connect rural entrepreneurs, give farmers access to easier harvests at low costs, and provide reliable flows of cash to their accounts.
Iranian Floods Cause Massive Damage: Floods caused by heavy rain across Iran in recent weeks have caused an estimated $2.5 billion in damage to roads, bridges, homes, and agricultural land. The government has said that they will pay compensation to anyone who has incurred loses, with particular focus on farmers.
Be Part of Climate Change Solution by Eating Cereal: Rice, wheat, and many other staple foods are annual crops that requires excessive water consumption and fertilizers. The Land Institute hopes to develop an alternative by advancing perennial crops. The organization has successfully grown Kernza, a distant relative of regular wheat and has started to use it to make cereal.
Ivanka Promotes African Businesswomen: USAID Administrator Mark Green and Ivanka Trump met with businesswomen and leaders in Ethiopia to discuss opportunities and challenges women entrepreneurs. On the trip, OPIC announced the launch of ‘2X Africa,’ under which OPIC will directly invest $350 million to mobilize $1 billion in capital to advance women empowerment in Sub-Saharan Africa.
TRADE & COMMODITIES
Prices Double: Zimbabwe has seen consumer food prices soar this past week as inflationary pressures continue to mount. The Consumer Council of Zimbabwe has shown that the cost of living for a family of six has risen dramatically, one reason being the price of bread has more than doubled. Much of the blame is due to the instability of the local RTGS currency against a stable USD.
Chinese Dispute Strikes Canada’s Canola Farmers: After China’s ban on canola seed imports from Canada, the abrupt retreat of Canada’s largest canola consumer is estimated to result in a 10 percent drop in the country’s canola production. China’s customs authority explained that the ban was due to contamination concerns, but Canadian farmers linked it to the arrest of a Huawei Technologies Co. executive.
South Korea Ban on Fukushima Seafood: Eight years after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, Japan has been promoting the safety of its agricultural and fisheries products. However, the WTO recent decision in favor of South Korea’s import ban become a huge setback. More than 20 other countries still maintain their import ban or restrictions on Japanese fisheries and agricultural products.
SEE ALSO: Japan Reports Exports, Trade Surplus Slid in March
FAO/WHO/WTO International Forum on Food Safety and Trade
Date: April 23-24
Location: Geneva, Switzerland
IFPRI Technical Discussion on the 2019 Global Report on Food Crises
Date: April 26
Location: Washington, DC
From the Roots: Connecting Culture, Food, and Purpose
Date: May 7
Location: Chicago, IL
Innovation Forum: the Future of Food
Date: May 22-23
Location: Chicago, IL
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
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.