November 13, 2020 | By Julia Whiting

Global Food for Thought: Dairy Profits | Food Alliance | Famines Developing

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Four Famines

UN food agencies are warning that the risk of famine is on the rise in four countries – Burkina Faso, Nigeria, South Sudan, and Yemen – due to conflict, economic decline, climate extremes, and the COVID-19 pandemic. Analysis by the World Food Program indicates that portions of each country have become partially or completely cut off from humanitarian assistance. The warning comes after previous calls for intervention in Yemen, where the lives of almost 100,000 children are in danger due to malnutrition. In a further 25 at-risk countries, the number of food insecure people in could reach 270 million by the end of 2020, a sharp increase from the 149 million people who were food insecure in the same regions in 2019. OF THE WEEK


Men work inside a milk chilling center in India. (REUTERS/Anindito Mukherjee) 


Equity and Inclusion in the Air Force: This August, General Charles Q. Brown, Jr. was sworn in as the first Black chief of a military service in the 245-year history of the United States armed forces. With his swearing in, General Brown highlighted intentions for renewed focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion in the service’s ranks to ensure that all who come after him are afforded the same opportunities to excel. Join the Chicago Council in welcoming General Charles Q. Brown, Jr. on November 17 for a discussion on his distinguished career, the future of the US Air Force, and equity and inclusion within the military. COUNCIL EVENTS


LIVE STREAM: The New Yorker's Evan Osnos on Joe Biden's Journey
Date: November 19
Time: 12:00 p.m. CT

LIVE STREAM: Emerging Leaders Program December Information Session
Date: December 8
Time: 5:30 p.m. CT

Did you miss one of our previous livestreams? Don't worry! They are all available on our website to watch at any time. 


Hurricane Eta’s Impact: Hurricane Eta is threatening food security in Central America after the Category 4 storm caused widespread flooding during a key time in the region’s agricultural cycle. Food insecurity in the region has already been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, and farmers were not prepared to deal with such a severe storm so late in the hurricane season.

Milking Profits: India’s largest milk producer, Amul, was able to grow its revenue by 16 percent during the nation’s coronavirus lockdown. Careful procedures have allowed the cooperative to meet milk demand while adhering to pandemic protocols. Yet the rural farmers who supply Amul say that the success has not reached them, with daily earnings too low to cover basic farm maintenance costs.  

Stepping Up: The FAO reports that although global food supply chains were disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, low- and middle-income countries were able to fill supply gaps when high-income countries fell short. For example, Egypt and Kenya increased fruit and vegetable production to export to Europe, which filled gaps in grocery supply. DIVE

Supporting Dairy Prices: Farmers believe that Amul’s failure to provide a minimum support price (MSP) for dairy is contributing to their low wages. An MSP for dairy, as is already mandated for vegetables by the Indian government, could guarantee farmers a minimum living for their work. In the US, there has been some type of dairy support price in effect since 1941. CRUNCH

A Taste of Machine Learning: Among a growing number of startups that believe that plant-based proteins are a key climate solution, a new startup – ClimaxFoods – is using machine learning to identify all the combinations of plant proteins which could be used to create meat and cheese alternatives that taste like the real thing.  


Mara River Reality-Check: The WWF reports that fish are being driven to extinction in the Mara River basin of Kenya and Tanzania, putting the livelihoods of more than a million people in jeopardy. The basin, which is a significant hotspot for global freshwater biodiversity, experienced a 203 percent increase in agricultural cover between 1973 and 2000, and the associated human activities have rapidly degraded the health of the river.  


Wet Farming: In the UK, the Water Works project is testing new crops that could suit a future climate where weather events, particularly rain, are expected to be more extreme. Using plants that thrive in saturated soil, the project is attempting to show the commercial benefits of re-wetting peatlands.


Agriculture in Focus: The Biden campaign released its presidential transition website, which lists four priority policy areas to be addressed in the first months of the new administration. Agricultural policy is listed as a key factor in fighting climate change, and the incoming Biden administration promises to incentivize climate-smart agriculture while creating jobs in the farm sector. ACTORS 

Let’s Form an Alliance: The FAO, in collaboration with the Government of Italy and more than 30 interested countries, have launched the Food Coalition to ensure global food access during the ongoing pandemic. The global alliance hopes to help nations get back on track to meet the SDGs by 2030 and support innovative initiatives to overcome the pandemic’s widespread disruptive effects. & COMMODITIES

Contaminated Beef: Traces of the novel coronavirus have been found on packages of Brazilian beef in Wuhan, China. Chinese authorities have stepped up testing of food imports after several port workers recently tested positive for the virus. Packaging from Argentina, China’s largest beef supplier alongside Brazil, recently texted positive as well. UPCOMING EVENTS

​​​​​​A Global Call to Action on Food Loss and Waste
Date: November 24
Time: 10:30 a.m. CET

Seizing Opportunity from the Jaws of Crisis: A Playbook for Nutrition
Date: December 10
Time: 9:00 a.m. CT

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.