Dam Worries Egyptian Farmers
Water worries are growing for Egyptian farmers, as Ethiopia moves to fill the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile. The Blue Nile is the Nile’s main tributary and source of 80 percent of Egypt’s water. Egypt has asked for a guarantee of a minimum annual release of 40 billion cubic meters of water from the dam. That is 15 billion cubic meters less than the current yearly average flow from the Nile. For a nation with one of the lowest per capita shares of water in the world, uncertainty over water is especially fraught—it has been estimated that a 5 billion cubic meter drop, if permanent, would result in the loss of 12 percent of the country’s farmland. For Egyptian farmers in the agricultural communities established by the government in the 1960s, the dam is a continuation, rather than start, of water supply problems. Decades of mismanagement and population growth have taken their toll, leaving behind barren fields.
PHOTO OF THE WEEK
A worker stands near freshly baked bread at a bakery in Beirut, following this month's blast in city's port area. (REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir)
Policy Insights: Food systems are complex and involve a broad range of actors. The new, easy-to-navigate Food Systems Dashboard is meant to help decision makers quickly understand those complexities. In our latest collaboration with Agri-Pulse, Jess Fanzo and Lawrence Haddad explain how the Dashboard helps policy makers describe food systems, diagnose priority areas, and decide on interventions.
UPCOMING COUNCIL EVENTS
LIVE STREAM: Post-Pandemic Travel and Tourism
Date: August 24
Time: 10:00 a.m. CDT
LIVE STREAM: Resetting Global Supply Chains in a Post-Pandemic World
Date: August 26
Time: 12:00 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
Hunger in Lebanon: The UN believes $47 million is needed in the immediate future, and $250 million over the next six months, to avert a hunger crisis in Lebanon. This month’s explosion in Beirut not only destroyed the most of nation’s wheat reserves, but also damaged the port in which 85 percent of the nation’s food imports enter. While aid may see Lebanon through the immediate aftermath of the blast, long-term solutions are needed to establish food security in the country.
Bringing Plots Together: About half of Armenia’s arable land is abandoned, according to government estimates. This stems from a post-Soviet land distribution lottery which left many farmers with fragmented holdings. Proposed land reforms would unify abandoned plots and rent the larger units to farmers.
Vaccine Advances: After a series of positive tests, a Chinese vaccine for African swine fever (ASF) has been approved to move to the next phase of clinical trials and production. The experimental vaccine resulted in at least 80 percent immune protection and did not produce negative reactions. While a hopeful sign, there are still many steps before the vaccine can go to market.
A Complex Virus: Scientists have worked on a vaccine for ASF since the 1960s with no success. This is in part due to the complex structure of the virus, which has up to 24 times as many proteins as other viruses. The virus has thwarted the traditional vaccine approach of injecting an inactive or dead virus into animals, driving researchers to try using less virulent or genetically modified strains of the virus instead.
Early Bananas: A 2000-year-old banana farm has been discovered off the coast of Australia, challenging the predominant view of the region’s indigenous peoples as solely hunter gatherers. Archeologists found fossilized traces of fruit, stone tools, and retaining walls in terraced sites. Bananas are not native to the site, suggesting early agricultural trade.
Forgotten Foods: One quarter of studied plant groups are threatened with extinction, according to a recent UN report. The Forgotten Food Project sets to recover lost ingredients from South Indian cuisine, such as elephant tusk okra and the decalepis root. The project represents the bigger picture of food knowledge preservation and how food diversity is central to food security.
A Return to Tradition: The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the economies of Caribbean nations usually dependent on tourism. To adapt, indigenous communities are returning to traditional fishing and farming methods. For many, the move is a chance to celebrate cultural heritage and reevaluate local economies.
Taking Extra Precautions: The Mexican government is following in the footsteps of the EU, implementing “precautionary principle” inspired restrictions on US farm commodities that, in addition to a confirmed glyphosate ban due by 2024, proves ominous for the future of US-Mexico agricultural trade. This change in Mexico’s regulatory philosophy threatens hundreds of millions of dollars in pesticides trade, as well as billions of dollars of US corn, wheat and soybeans that cross the southern border every year.
Playing Chicken: Brazil is sending government agriculture officials to Shenzhen, China to inquire on the allegations that Brazilian chicken wings had been contaminated with corona virus upon entry. The Philippines has taken similar measures after the report out of Shenzhen by imposing a temporary ban on poultry from Brazil, from which the Philippines imports 20 percent of its poultry from.
SEE ALSO: China’s chicken production surges
TRADE & COMMODITIES
High Prices, Higher Buying: Corn prices in China are spiking due to higher than expected demand and lower supply. The Chinese pig herd has recovered from last year’s ASF devastation quicker than expected, prompting higher demand for animal feed. This comes after some years of government efforts to reduce domestic corn stockpiles. To adjust, buyers in China have increased purchases of US corn.
OTHER UPCOMING EVENTS
The Science of Scaling
Date: August 25
Time: 3 pm CEST
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