Global Food for Thought will be taking a break for the next two weeks. We’ll be back with the latest buzz on food, agriculture, and global development on Friday, October 2. Until then, please share any suggestions you may have on what we can do better. If you would like to have the Global Food for Thought news brief delivered to your inbox, please sign up here.
Celebrating Feed the Future Week
Just over ten years ago, the Chicago Council published a white paper urging the US to invest in agricultural development, rather than relying on food aid. That provided a blueprint for Feed the Future (FTF), USAID’s food security initiative. This week, USAID’s Jim Barnhardt joined our Deep Dish podcast to explain why there’s still hope to end hunger in our lifetime. Additionally, we’ve been sharing stories on our blog about how FTF Innovation Labs cultivatie hope.
The Innovation Labs for Integrated Pest Management, Crop Improvement, and Legume Systems Research shared stories following up on their participation in our Field Notes blog series earlier in the year. The Integrated Pest Management Innovation Lab is working to diminish the chain reaction between invasive species and climate change to protect food security and natural resources. In Niger, a Legume Systems Research project to find natural pest deterrents spurred an important local industry. Taking a new approach to supporting crop improvement research, the Innovation Lab for Crop Improvement has announced four new Centers of Innovation around the world.
PHOTO OF THE WEEK
Ears of wheat are seen on sunset in a field in Omsk Region, Russia. The nation supplied most of Egypt's recent wheat imports. (REUTERS/Alexey Malgavko)
Improving Nutrition Security: The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of good nutrition to support health. Micronutrient deficiencies make populations more vulnerable to infection and other conditions. On September 28, Senior Fellow Roger Thurow will moderate a panel featuring experts from HarvestPlus, the International Potato Center, World Vision Canad, and Self Help International on how biofortified crops can strengthen nutrition security.
UPCOMING COUNCIL EVENTS
Improving Nutrition Security with Biofortified Crops
Date: September 28
Time: 8 a.m. CDT
LIVESTREAM: The Geopolitics of a New Decade
Date: October 1
Time: 12 p.m. CDT
Did you miss one of our previous livestreams? Don't worry! They are all available on our website to watch at any time.
FOOD AND AGRICULTURAL ISSUES
Food Shortages in Nigeria: Floods and maize shortages in Nigeria are compounding the challenges of a food system already struggling under the COVID-19 pandemic. Limited crop yields from this spring are exacerbating price spikes and challenging efforts to support domestic farmers. Economists and farmers worry that these difficulties could push Nigeria into a food crisis in coming months.
Beefing Up Wheat Reserves: The Egyptian government is working to maintain a six-month strategic reserve of essential goods. This has prompted the nation—already the global leader—to bin the past two months by more than 40 percent over last year. Over 80 percent of the wheat imports are from Russia, which is considering grain export quota for the beginning of 2021.
Ducks Lend a Beak: After the rice harvest in Thailand, it is common to see thousands of ducks flooding rice fields. The traditional practice provides chemical-free pest management for farmers, and the ducks also flatten rice stubble which eases plowing. Duck farmers also benefit, feeding their ducks at lower cost.
Let’s Get That Bread: Egypt has imported 2.4 million metric tons of wheat in the past two months. That’s approximately 88.2 million bushels. So what does that mean? 88.2 million bushels of wheat can make 7.9 billion loaves of whole wheat bread. With Egypt’s population of 98.42 million, that wheat could provide 80 loaves of bread per citizen. If each person ate one loaf per week, they could have guaranteed bread for one and a half years.
Biofuels: A Climate Change Solution? New studies examine the complex trade-offs between biofuel production and its usage as a “carbon neutral” energy source. In theory, plants used to produce biofuel remove carbon from the atmosphere as they grow, preventing additional carbon being introduced when biofuel is burned. However, land use practices in biofuel production raise concerns about the reality of the product’s carbon neutral status.
Collapsing Biodiversity: A new UN report indicates that the world needs to do much more to address a global biodiversity collapse with the potential to endanger humanity’s food supply, health, and security. In 2010, every country in the world agreed to 20 goals intended to protect global biodiversity, yet as of 2020, only six of these 20 goals have been partially achieved. Empowering women to make decisions about the land they work is critical to progress on global biodiversity goals.
Africa Food Prize Winners: A soil scientist and a remote sensing specialist were jointly awarded the Africa Food Prize at the African Green Revolution Forum. The winners pioneered a micro-dosing technique for applying fertilizer and the use of remote sensing for agriculture and drought monitoring, respectively. The winners will share a $100,000 prize for their efforts to promote food security in Africa.
Troubled Waters: Mexican farmers continue to occupy La Boquilla dam on Chihuahua’s Conchas river to protest the government’s continued deliveries of water to the United States under the 1944 Water Treaty. Severe drought in the region this past summer threatens the region’s spring produce crop and has exacerbated tensions between local activists, the López Obrador administration, and the United States.
SDG Backslide: A new report from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation states that the COVID-19 pandemic has stalled and even reversed progress on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Decreases in vaccine coverage and decreased food security were highlighted as particularly concerning. Financial inclusion, however, has progressed as governments work to provide support for communities during the crisis.
Limited Impacts of EU Aid: Between 2014-2020, Kenya received $515 million from the EU for developments in food security, sustainable agriculture, and accountability of public institutions. Yet a new report from the European Court of Auditors raises concerns about the effectiveness of this aid. To increase impacts of development spending, the report recommends that aid be focused on fewer areas, with an emphasis on manufacturing to increase job creation.
TRADE & COMMODITIES
Cotton & Tomatoes Allowed: The US is implementing a new set of restrictions on imports from China but is stopping short of banning cotton and tomatoes produced in the Xinjiang region. The Trump administration was poised to announce restrictions on these crops last week but stalled over concerns about the security of American cotton exports. The restrictions come in response to growing concern over human rights abuses in Xinjiang.
OTHER UPCOMING EVENTS
The Root of It: Rejuvenating the Ag Ecosystem
Date: September 17, 24 & October 1
Time: 2 pm CDT
The World Food Prize Borlaug Dialogues
Date: October 12-18
FFA2020 Online Live
Date: October 26
Time: 3 pm CET
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