February 15, 2019

Global Food for Thought: Farmer-Led Irrigation, Aid to Venezuela, Fruit Waste

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From Scarcity to Security: Managing Water for a Nutritious Food Future

By 2050, over one half of the world’s population could be at risk due to stress on water resources. How will we grow an adequate quantity—and quality—of food to feed and nourish a rapidly growing, urbanizing world in the face of increasing water insecurity? Hear from government leaders, social innovators, and influencers at this year's Global Food Security Symposium. Register now.

https://engage.thechicagocouncil.org/l/557772/2018-09-21/5xdymt/557772/224304/quote2.pngTOP STORY

Aid for Venezuela
While Venezuelans are struggling to feed themselves, President Maduro and the military have blocked the Tienditas Bridge on the border between Columbia and Venezuela to prevent the delivery of food aid to the starving people. Venezuelans took to the streets to protest their government’s denial of the aid.

Nearly $60 million worth of medicine and food is currently sitting on the border. US officials are urging Maduro to stand down and allow the aid to travel over the border.

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


A kangaroo casts a shadow as it drinks from a water tank located in a drought-effected paddock on farmer Ash Whitney's property located west of the town of Gunnedah in New South Wales, Australia. "I have been here all my life, and this drought is feeling like it will be around a while," said Whitney. (REUTERS/David)

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

Food Safety Awareness: The First International Food Safety Conference in Addis Ababa brought world leaders together to discuss greater international cooperation to prevent unsafe food from causing ill health and hampering the progress towards sustainable development. More than 600 million people fall ill and 420,000 die worldwide every year due to food contaminated with bacteria, viruses, parasites, toxins, or chemicals.

Quality over Quantity: The EAT-Lancet Commission Report on Food, Planet, and Health was launched during the Ordinary Summit of the African Union. The report focused on solutions to challenges such as connecting smallholder farmers to markets. Re-orienting food production to focus on quality not quantity was noted as a key solution for the future.

Food Security in Africa: The FAO and the WFP highlighted areas in Africa in need of urgent food and livelihood assistance. The deteriorating food security situation is expected to see negative trends during the spring and fall this year. Protracted crises were the main causes that lead to lack of humanitarian access, food shortages, and high prices.
SEE ALSO: ‘Africa Hangs in the Balance’: Bill Gates on Why the Continent Is so Important

https://engage.thechicagocouncil.org/l/557772/2018-10-01/5xkyvw/557772/226010/insights_icon.pngCOUNCIL INSIGHTS

Uncharted Waters: Farmer-Led Irrigation for Agricultural Intensification

More food requires more water; more nutritious food requires a lot more water. In our latest post in the Uncharted Waters blog series, Fellow Michael Tiboris examines solutions for smallholder farmers.

The basic challenge for the global food system is feeding a larger and generally wealthier population—which needs a more diverse and nutritious diet—on water resources that are already over-extended in high production areas. At the same time, strengthening irrigation access for African farmers is key to increasing agricultural productivity in the region.

https://engage.thechicagocouncil.org/l/557772/2018-10-01/5xkywr/557772/226026/grow_Icon.pngFOOD AND AGRICULTURAL ISSUES

FAO Food Vision: The FAO has announced its plan for addressing food insecurity in 2019. Seeking $940 million, FAO hopes to reach over 32 million people through a variety of programs aimed at improving the lives of those who depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. These interventions include providing agricultural inputs and training on best practices, diversification strategies, and new techniques in food production. FAO will bring programs to 30 countries facing high levels of food insecurity.

Livestock Support: The FAO is working to boost Nigeria's livestock and dairy industry due to declines from the decade old Boko Haram crisis. A one-day workshop was held to identify problems and formulate quick, effective solutions. Experts called for animal feed and water provisions, as well as animal health support for smallholder dairy producers, particularly resource-poor pastoralists.

The Fever Spreads: A new outbreak of African Swine Fever has been reported in China. The disease has killed more than 1 million pigs in China since August. The new outbreak has led to quarantine and decontamination efforts, necessitating the slaughter of 2,700 pigs in the hopes of limiting the disease’s spread.

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

A New Plan from the FAO: After decades of improvement, global hunger levels have continued to rise for the past three years. This reversal in progress underlines the need for continued action if the Sustainable Development Goal of zero hunger is to be met. The FAO’s plan for 2019 recommends confronting the root causes of food insecurity by strengthening agricultural production in regions at risk. Humanitarian assistance joined with longer-term projects will aim to make communities more resilient to shocks.

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

Insect Extinction: A new report says that over 40 percent of the insect species may become extinct in the next few decades, and 100 percent could vanish in 100 years. The whole agricultural system depends on insects, which are most vulnerable to extinction, to control the other insects which compete with us for crops. Additionally, insects are needed to pollinate plants, recycle waste, and fertilize soil.


Indian Farmers, a Struggle to Survive: Farmers increasingly demand that the Indian government set higher minimum support prices for agricultural commodities. Low food prices may keep India’s poor from starving, but farmers often must take expensive loans to fund their farming process. Indebtedness and low farm incomes have driven more farmers to suicide.

Pope Condemns Food Inequality: Pope Francis criticized the lack of access to food around the world, saying that the future of humanity is threatened if not remedied. Francis said that many of the 820 million people suffering from hunger and malnutrition live in rural areas where food is produced, while others are affected by diseases caused by an overabundance of food products.  

https://engage.thechicagocouncil.org/l/557772/2018-10-01/5xkzwh/557772/226054/big_ideas.pngBIG IDEAS

Cutting Down Fruit Waste: Zest Labs is an agricultural technology company that focuses on extending the shelf life of strawberries to reduce food waste. It uses wireless sensors to monitor fruit freshness during each process of the supply chain and makes real-time recommendations to growers and wholesalers, who therefore can make adjustments and reduce the chance of spoiled fruit and waste. 

IBM “Five in Five” List: IBM released its annual list of five technology innovations that will change the world in the next five years. All five technologies focus on the food supply chain, providing solutions to increase crop yields, reduce food waste and prevent the spread of foodborne disease.

https://engage.thechicagocouncil.org/l/557772/2018-10-01/5xkzwt/557772/226058/dc_icon.pngDC REPORT

Upcoming Trade Talks: President Trump is preparing to increase trade negotiations with major US partners Japan, the European Union, and the United Kingdom after it leaves the EU. Conversations with Japan are complicated by long-standing disputes over tariffs on automotive imports, but discussions offer the possibility of opening up agricultural markets for US producers. Lastly, as Brexit negotiations continue, the US Trade Policy Committee convened stakeholders for a discussion on desired British concessions, such as removal of poultry and hog food safety standards.

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

Flood Fiasco: Devastating floods in Australia has created loses from a herd of 30,000 cattle and calves. The country’s largest fertilizer maker has warned investors of sizeable losses from the floods. Railways have closed, resulting in lack of storage and ingredients arriving costing the fertilizer company more than $7 million a week.

Food Price Increases: The United Nations’ food agency reported that world food prices increased in January, with an average of 164.8 points, three points higher than December. Global cereal production is still expected to remain 1.8 percent below the record high of 2017, despite the rise in the latest projections.
SEE ALSO: Sugar Prices to Rise as Global Market Swings into Deficit

https://www.thechicagocouncil.org/sites/default/files/calendar_icon.pngUPCOMING EVENTS

SXSW Conference Panel: Cultivating the Next Generation of Food Leaders
Date: March 13
Location: Austin, Texas
Global Food Security Symposium 2019
Date: March 20-21
Location: Washington, DC
Land and Poverty Conference 2019: Catalyzing Innovation
Date: March 25-29
Location: Washington, DC
FAO/WHO/WTO International Forum on Food Safety and Trade
Date: April 23-24
Location: Geneva, Switzerland
EAT Stockholm Food Forum 2019
Date: Jun 12-13
Location: Stockholm, Sweden


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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 Marshall M. Bouton

India's Mandate for Agricultural Reform

Chicago Council President Emeritus Marshall M. Bouton discusses challenges facing Indian agriculture and potential reforms to meet the government's goal of doubling farmer incomes by 2022.