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New Face of FAO
China’s Vice Minister of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, Qu Dongyu, has been elected as the new Director-General of FAO. Qu beat candidates from France and Georgia with 108 votes out of 191, and follows Brazil’s Jose Graziano da Silva. This is the first time an individual from a Communist country will hold the position. Qu’s election comes at a crucial time for the organization, which has 10 years to meet the UN’s sustainability development goals to end global hunger and malnutrition, and is facing stagnating aid donations. Areas of focus he identified for his 4 year term as director-general include drought land farming, digital rural development, and hunger and poverty eradication.
PHOTO OF THE WEEK
Workers spray insecticide at a maize field destroyed by the fall armyworm in Thailand. (Reuters/Soe Zeya Tun)
Prosper Africa: USAID launched the Prosper Africa initiative at the US-Africa Business Summit in Maputo, Mozambique. The initiative is an effort to centralize the resources of US programs and agencies to help American businesses expand into Africa. The United States hopes to increase the volume of two-way trade with Africa and provide more opportunities for US firms.
Yemen Food Aid Suspended: A disagreement over biometrics has led the WFP to partially suspend its food aid to Yemen. The organization uses biometric data to prevent diversion and theft of supplies, which the Houthis claim violates Yemeni law. A WFP shipment designated to feed 100,000 civilians was blocked by the militia after the restriction, and 850,000 people could be impacted if it continues.
China’s Agroindustrial Interests in Latin America: Tariff tensions between the United States and China have brought an increased focus on the intensifying trade relationship between China and Latin America. This is part of a decade-long trend in increased investment between the two regions, rather than a short-term phenomenon. Following the Council’s recent brief, Addressing China's Rising Influence in Africa, Margaret Myers examines the long-term relationship between China and Latin America in our most recent collaboration with Agri-Pulse.
FOOD AND AGRICULTURAL ISSUES
March of the Armyworm: The fall armyworm has been found in 19 Chinese provinces according to the national agriculture ministry. The arrival puts 333,000 hectares of crops at risk. An invasion can cause corn yields to fall by 20-50 percent, and the pest already caused over $13.3 billion in crop losses in Africa over a three-year span.
Africa’s ‘Trash Fish’ are Underrated: A new FAO paper finds that the harvest of small freshwater fish, abundant across Africa’s tropical lakes, could help tackle the continent’s battle with hunger and malnutrition. These fish are vitamin-rich and reproduce at unparalleled rates, so can be easily caught without risking overfishing. Previously viewed as “trash fish” due to restrictions on catching them, small freshwater fish may end up being a food security treasure for the continent.
Rain Delays: India has experienced below average rainfall for four straight weeks. Rain is particularly crucial following a 2018 drought which caused some municipalities to cut water supplies until reservoirs replenished. Over half of the arable land in India is rain-fed, making timely monsoon rains critical to the nation’s food supply and economy.
What makes a monsoon?: “Monsoon” comes from the Arabic word for season. The South Asian monsoon is the product of atmospheric pressure changes during the transition from winter to summer. This seasonal rain accounts for 70 percent of India’s annual rainfall. Cyclone Vayu disrupted the wind patterns upon which the monsoon depends and is in part responsible for the delays in rain and summer planting.
Developing Climate Data: According to the UN, 68 percent of its environmental indicators are backed by little to no data. However, large companies, like Google, and nonprofits already have tools that can—and sometimes are—used to track issues such as overfishing, deforestation, and pollution build-up. These technologies include surveillance tools, satellite imagery, and AI.
FAO Global Hunger Trends: Regional meetings at the FAO Conference discussed the state of international efforts to eradicate hunger and malnutrition in Asia, Latin America, and Africa. Few regions are on track to meet their hunger and nutrition goals by 2030. Latin America – once an example in reducing hunger – is facing the added challenge of reducing obesity. Rural investment, climate resilience, and poverty reduction were identified as key interventions to improve food security.
SEE ALSO: Mandela’s Widow Warns Leaders of Failure to End Hunger
Soil Solutions: Nutrient-scarce soil has driven farmers in many African countries to increase their crop yields with cheap fertilizers, which exacerbates soil degradation and nutrient loss. A new company, Dynamic Green Concepts, is providing an organic solution that uses enzymatic technology to increase crop nutrient uptake and improve soil health. They hope to build long term solutions to sustainably boost crop yields.
An App for Waste: According to FAO estimates, roughly one third of the world’s food is wasted every year. In Europe, an app called “Too Good To Go” is tackling this problem by providing a platform for restaurants and groceries to sell left-over foods at discounted prices. The app has rescued 14 million meals from the trash, and it connects over 23,000 businesses with 10 million users.
Second Minibus Funding Package: The House Appropriations Committee passed the second minibus package, which included funding measures for interior, transportation, military and veterans’ affairs, interior and environment, and agriculture. The agriculture bill provided $24.3 billion in funds, an increase of $1.3 billion over last years’ budget. The bill also added a provision preventing the move of USDA’s Economic Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture out of DC.
TRADE & COMMODITIES
Pork in Peril: China has stopped all imports of meat from Canada due to detection of a banned additive found in a recent shipment. Canada is the world’s third-biggest shipper of pork worldwide, causing the industry to scramble for alternative markets.
SEE ALSO: African Swine Flu Detected in Laos
More Tariff Troubles: California farmers are worried about new tariffs from India on almonds and 27 other American products. India was considered an important export alternative to China. California almond farmers, who supply 82% of the world’s almonds, must now find a new market for their crop.
SEE ALSO: Farmers take out loans to cope with troubled trade
AgTech Nexus 2019
Date: July 22-23
Location: Chicago, IL
World Congress on Advancing Nutritional and Food Sciences
Date: July 23-24
Location: Rome, Italy
Aid & International Development Forum Global Summit
Date: September 4
Location: Washington, DC
Feeding the Future
Date: September 26
Location: London, England
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