March 1, 2019

Global Food for Thought: Climate Pressures, SDGs, Land Trouble

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

By 2050, over one 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? Hear from government leaders, social innovators, and influencers at this year's Global Food Security Symposium. Register now. STORY

Biodiversity in Danger

A new report from FAO warns that biodiversity of food sources is dropping, based on data collected from 91 countries. According to the report, nine plants account for 66 percent of total crop production and 26 percent of local livestock, which occur in only one country, are in danger of becoming extinct. These losses in biodiversity may put humans in a position of increased vulnerability to pests, diseases, and climate change. Changes in land and water use and management, pollution, overexploiting, climate change, and urbanization are all top contributors to this trend. OF THE WEEK

This is a critical moment for global food security and water security. Read more in our series, Uncharted Waters. ACTORS

Land Trouble: Decades-long legal disputes over land in Africa has halted trade and could tie up food companies doing business for years. Many firms have found that the land they are using is already being claimed or occupied by local people. It was estimated that these disputes could cause up to $101 million in losses over the next 25 years.

Alleviating Hunger: The WFP has created an initiative to meet its target goal of reducing malnutrition in Malawi. The initiative will give money to 18,151 families who are struggling from food shortages. Maize and other foods have already been distributed to many targeted households, but this additional money is intended to help the households buy cooking oil, relish, and other food items.

All Systems Go for Better Nutrition: Sharada Keats and Greg Garrett of the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) write that the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are not meant to be tackled each in isolation. In fact, water and food are fundamentally linked. In a new post for the Council, they say that GAIN takes a systems approach to advanced nutrition outcomes for those most vulnerable to malnutrition INSIGHTS

Uncharted Waters: Are the Sustainable Development Goals for Water and Food Working Against One Another?

Can the world be water and food secure at the same time? There are intuitive reasons to think that these goals conflict. The United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development includes Sustainable Development Goals for reaching “zero hunger” (SDG 2) and universal access to clean drinking water and sanitation (SDG 6). Achieving SDGs 2 and 6 together ultimately depends on identifying holistic, cross-sectoral, policies which allow the SDGs to positively reinforce one another, rather than treating them as independent goals.
Read the latest post in our new series, “Uncharted Waters,” as we explore the challenges of feeding and nourishing a rapidly growing global population in the face of water scarcity.

What’s Your Story? Each of us has a story of a time when a global and seemingly remote issue turned into something up-close and personal. Would you like to have your story shared at the Global Food Security Symposium 2019? Go and click on this year’s story prompt, What Makes Water Personal to You? Deadline for submission is Friday, March 8. AND AGRICULTURAL ISSUES

Plastic on your Plate: Plastics are part of our everyday lives and have been for decades. Lack of recycling has led to “microplastics”—tiny particles of plastic— permeating our environment. Marine life has been heavily impacted, but there is reason to believe that microplastics are in our soil as well. What is certain is that humans are consuming microplastics in their food. The impact this will have on human health is unknown.

Continued Spread: African swine fever is spreading rapidly across China’s borders, the fever has reached four Vietnamese provinces. Approximately 226 pigs have been culled in response to the new detection. China, where the first case of the fever was reported last August, has detected two new outbreaks. China’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs produced a plan to slow the trade of pigs and pork within regions but critics believe that this plan will only contain—but not eradicate—the disease.

Climate Insurance: A 2017 study by the Costa Rica-based Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center reported that boosting agricultural insurance is vital as the frequency of climate extremes increase. The Costa Rican government is having trouble getting participants, in the first year the insurance was offered barely 2 percent of the country’s agricultural land was covered. DIVE

Climate Pressures on Food Sources: Researchers have warned that changing climates threaten the global food supply. For example, fish populations are declining as oceans warm—as much as a four percent decline in fishable populations from 1930 to 2010 due to warming seas alone. This translates to 1.4 million metric tons of fish, a key source of food for millions around the globe. Fish make up 17 percent of the global supply of protein and more than 56 million people work in industries supported by marine fisheries. CRUNCH

Fish Monitors: Liquid Telecom Kenya has deployed a network called Internet of Things in Western Kenya and Nyanza as an effort to monitor and protect freshwater fish populations. This new technology will monitor water temperature and pH values and will send this information and feeding instructions to farmers. It is expected that approximately 5,000 farmers will soon be equipped with this technology.

Lunch for Children Campaign in Uganda: The Binance Charity Foundation, partnered with the Dream Building Service Association, launched the Lunch for Children program that aimed to improve student health and school attendance. As many families in the region are unbanked, Blockchain technology serves as a great tool to guarantee transparency of all transactions and prevent corruption in between.

Stalemate over Food Aid to Venezuela: President Maduro has shown no sign of yielding over the aid battle. He has ordered closure of Venezuela’s main surface-transport links with its neighbors. He views the aid shipments as a Trojan horse meant to destabilize his government, while Venezuelans are in an urgent need for food. In an attempt to bring food aid into the country, opponents clashed with the security forces and four people were killed.

Hunger in Sudan: Half of the population of South Sudan is facing severe acute food insecurity, and many more could be at risk. Five months into the country’s peace following the nation’s five-year civil war, aid agencies are struggling to reach those who need help the most. An increase in bureaucratic obstacles has made it harder to bring aid into the country. If nothing changes, 7.5 million people will be at risk of extreme hunger by May. IDEAS

Sustainable Food Systems: A View from the Midwest: Today, there are nearly 8 billion people on the planet, meaning nearly 8 billion people in need of daily nutritional sustenance. This presents new challenges that threaten our fragile global food system. The American Midwest boasts over 127 million acres of agricultural land. Because of this, it makes sense that the region would be teeming with food-centric corporations, innovative startups, and passionate people who are committed to improving transparency and the ways in which we feed the world.

GPS Tells the Life Story of Your Poultry: Food companies are using tracking technology to help consumers connect with the journey of their food from farm-to-fork. By simply strapping a GPS tracker to the leg of a chicken, consumers can know where the chicken is from and what it ate. It also helps producers to improve food safety and avoid costly recalls since the tracking device can identify farms affected by bird flu or other diseases.

Getting Wise to Waste: Investment in technologies and products to reduce food waste is increasing. Food waste accounts for a third of global food production, almost $1 trillion in value. Investors are getting in on projects to reduce that number, such as smart tags that can show when milk goes bad, or technology to help grocery stores prevent over-ordering produce. REPORT

Trans-Pacific Progress:  There appears to be some progress in the trade talks between the US and China regarding agriculture. As things stand, China would buy an additional $30 billion of US agricultural produce. This includes corn, ethanol, beef, and poultry, as well as the possibility of China resuming larger soybean imports. Currently Chinese imports of American soybeans are at their lowest levels in 3 years. The $30 billion target could be met by lowering restrictions on products such as soy and dried distillers’ grains—popular livestock feed—which currently are subject to unofficial import bans that are responses to US tariffs.

SEE ALSO: France Says No Agriculture in US-EU Trade Deal & COMMODITIES

EU Says Halal and Organic Don’t Mix: EU’s top court ruled that halal meat can’t be labeled as organic because animals slaughtered by ritual methods are not stunned first, which is against EU’s animal-welfare regulation. Ritual slaughter methods are now banned in several European countries.

Fresh from the Lab: Israeli startups are joining the lab-grown meat market. One company, Aleph Farms, has successfully produced small “steaks” made from bovine cells. Each slice of this lab beef costs about $50 to produce, meaning that despite new entries and investment in the market, commercial viability is still far off. There has been industry push back to the concept, but notably Tyson Foods has invested in a cultured-meat startup.

China Buys Cassava: Tanzanian government has ensured its cassava farmers of a trade deal with China. An unnamed Chinese-owned company has agreed to buy Tanzanian cassava, one of its major crops, for the next five years. China has an annual demand of 20 million tons, used mainly for industrial use. EVENTS

SXSW Conference Panel: Cultivating the Next Generation of Food Leaders
Date: March 13
Location: Austin, Texas
Global Food Security Symposium 2019
Date: March 20-21
Location: Washington, DC
Land and Poverty Conference 2019: Catalyzing Innovation
Date: March 25-29
Location: Washington, DC

Innovation in Agrifood Supply Chains: Finance, Profitability, and Sustainability
Date: April 10-11
Location: Berkeley, California

FAO/WHO/WTO International Forum on Food Safety and Trade
Date: April 23-24
Location: Geneva, Switzerland
EAT Stockholm Food Forum 2019
Date: Jun 12-13
Location: Stockholm, Sweden


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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


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