October 25, 2019

Global Food for Thought: Cocoa Certification | Wholesale Waste | Micronutrients

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Looming Crises

The current era is one of contradictions—overabundance side-by-side with hunger and instability. A new joint report from FAO, the European Commission and France’s agricultural research organization, CIRAD, rings alarm over this apparent contradiction. Migration fueled by conflict and natural disasters, all worsened by climate change, can contribute to a dangerous cycle of food insecurity and instability. The report attempts to give a frank assessment of the crises to come if nothing is done to address contributing socio-economic, environmental, and security trends which overlap and interact in complex ways.

https://engage.thechicagocouncil.org/l/557772/2018-10-01/5xkyvc/557772/225998/camera_icon.pngPHOTO OF THE WEEK

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https://www.thechicagocouncil.org/sites/default/files/globe_icon.pngBIG ACTORS 

Collective Action for Chad: The International Fund for Agricultural Development announced a $90 million project to boost agricultural incomes and food security in Chad. The project will help over 1 million smallholder farmers diversify their production systems and build adequate water infrastructure and supply chains. 

Micronutrients to Combat Malnutrition: UNICEF’s State of the World’s Children reported that children and young people bear the largest burden of global malnutrition. Half the world’s children under five suffer from “hidden hunger,” meaning they lack sufficient amounts of essential nutrients. The agency hopes to address this issue through micronutrient powders which can be used to easily fortify children’s food.


Kangaroo Mother Care: A technique of swaddling infants to their mothers is combatting child malnutrition and wasting in India. In a country where more than one-fifth of babies are born with low birth weight and nearly 40 percent of children are stunted by age five, this technique serves as an early intervention to prevent lifelong problems. Roger Thurow’s essay “I am Gita,” which reports on a mother and child using the technique, appears in a new collection of writings called The End of Hunger.


Farm Smarter, not Harder: Old farming cooperatives are learning new tricks in Argentina. Using machine learning and geospatial analysis, farms are able to apply inputs with precision and reduce costs. Up next, they hope to establish a social network for farmers to allow greater communication.
Farmers Under Fire: Prosperity comes with a price for some avocado farmers in Mexico. Rising international demand for avocados has brought districts out of poverty. This has drawn the attention of cartels and gangs, including some who reportedly threatened USDA inspectors earlier this year. To protect their crop from theft, many growers have invested in fencing and guards.

Certified Trouble: Certification schemes meant to combat child labor and environmental degradation I cocoa production are upheld by auditing reviews. The credibility of these certifications is being called into question by reports of widespread lapses in monitoring. Cocoa farms have been reported in protected forests, and child labor appears to be a persistent issue.
SEE ALSO: Sustainability Schemes Under Review in Ghana and Ivory Coast

https://www.thechicagocouncil.org/sites/default/files/news_icon.pngDEEPER DIVE

Avocado Trade: Global avocado trade has shifted dramatically in the past 22 years. In 1997, the United States lifted a 1914 ban on Mexican avocados. The ban was created in response to fear of agricultural pests. At the time, most of the avocados consumed in the United States had been grown in California and Florida. Only a small amount were imported from Chile, Israel, and the Dominican Republic. Now, the US market makes up 75 percent of Mexican avocado exports.   

https://www.thechicagocouncil.org/sites/default/files/chart_icon.pngDATA CRUNCH

Supply Chain 2.0: Startups are attempting to revolutionize the agricultural supply chain with distributed digital ledgers. Blockchain technology will give smallholder farmers remote access to an end-to-end record of their fulfillments, enabling them to secure loans and win contracts. The technology has the potential to empower female smallholders as well, by ensuring that they receive payment for crops rather than male relatives.


Calculating Risk: The risk of an African Swine Fever outbreak in the United States has increased by 183.33 percent since its spread in Europe and Asia. Scientists from the University of Minnesota modeled outbreak scenarios based on contaminated pork products illegally entering the United States via a major airport. 97 percent of the risk comes from pork products from China, Hong Kong, Russia, and Poland.

Dry-day Insurance: Farmers in Kenya are benefitting from Risk-Contingent Credit (RCC) insurance that makes real-time payouts as rainfall drops and is not contingent on harvest failure like traditional schemes. Researchers who designed the RCC say building resistance is cheaper than dealing with post-calamity fallout.

Undernourished in North Korea: A UN independent investigator reported that nearly half North Korea’s population suffers from undernourishment. This figure includes an estimated 140,000 children. Unequal distribution of resources, climate conditions, and negative impacts from sanctions are among contributing factors to the crisis.


A Price Tag on Climate Intervention: Scientists with the United Nations believe that climate change could be halted with a $300 billion investment in soil. That sum, accompanied by political will, would be used to return degraded, overgrazed, or deforested land to pasture, food crops, or trees. The efforts would pull carbon out of the atmosphere and into soil.  

There’s an app for that: Startups in India are piggybacking off the proliferation of smartphones to spread agricultural services across the country. From Uber-Pool like services that help farmers market their produce to AI powered shoot-and-click software that uses cameras to detect diseases, a plethora of applications are racing to service every farmer’s needs.  


USAID Announces New Partnership: On Monday, USAID launched their JuntosEsMejor/BetterTogether Challenge. In partnership with the Inter-American Development bank, this project will provide $13.5 million for innovative solutions in Venezuela. Funding will be provided in the form of grants, loans, and investments for solutions focused on people, productivity, services, and finance.

https://www.thechicagocouncil.org/sites/default/files/market_icon.pngTRADE & COMMODITIES

Wholesale against Waste: The FAO has shined a spotlight on food waste in their annual State of Food and Agriculture report. In response, the World’s Union of Wholesale Markets, a nonprofit representing more than 160 global markets, has teamed up with FAO to tackle the problem. Distribution systems is one area that will receive attention through the partnership.
Exports Among Hunger: Exports of food and agricultural products from Venezuela are expected to increase. Hyperinflation has created a situation in which citizens cannot afford to buy domestic products, leading food producers to set their sights internationally. In the last five years the average Venezuelan has decreased calorie consumption by 56 percent.

https://www.thechicagocouncil.org/sites/default/files/calendar_icon.pngUPCOMING EVENTS
Food Tank Summit
Date: November 1
Location: New York City, New York
Youth Ag Summit 2019

Date: November 4
Location: Brasilia, Brazil
Smart Urban Food Systems Summit
Date: November 4-5
Location: Brooklyn, New York

International Summing on Agriculture & Food Science
Date: November 11
Location: Las Vegas, NV
International Conference on Agricultural Statistics
Date: 18-19 November
Location: New Delhi, India

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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


| 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.