March 15, 2019

Global Food for Thought: Flight 302 | GAIN | Red Palm Weevil

If you would like to have the Global Food for Thought news brief delivered to your inbox, please sign up here.


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. On March 20 and 21, watch the Symposium live here. STORY

Mourning Development Leaders

The international environmental community lost many leaders in the tragic Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 crash. Many of the passengers on the plane, at least 45 of whom were employees of humanitarian and development organizations, were headed to the UN Environment Assembly in Nairobi. Among those lost were seven representatives of the World Food Program and an FAO representative of the fisheries department. Nine passengers worked for the African Union. OF THE WEEK

Village women and girls carry water at Fangadi Village on the outskirts of Ahmedabad, India. (REUTERS/Amit Dave) ACTORS

A GAIN-ful Partnership: FAO and the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) have partnered to improve availability and access to nutritious food in developing countries. The main strategy of the partnership is engaging small and mid-sized businesses to promote market-based solutions for better nutrition. An urban focus is present as well, joining GAIN’s Urban Governance for Nutrition Program and FAO’s recent Urban Food Agenda.

WFP Food Purchases: Uganda benefitted tremendously from the WFP buying more than $147 million worth of food rations in the last three years. However, of these purchases, only a small percentage was purchased from small-holder farmer groups. This has sparked a push for improved coordination to ensure small scale farmers get all the support they need from the various actors in agriculture.

Food Bank Extension: In 2013, Namibia established a food bank to assist community members with food rations to fight food insecurity. Due to a donation from Waldschmidt Egg CC, a family business that manufactures eggs, the food bank will be expanding to all 14 regions of the country by June. The beneficiaries include mainly the needy elderly and vulnerable members of society. INSIGHTS

Uncharted Waters: The Gendered Burden of Water

Humans all need water for roughly the same things and in roughly the same amounts. And yet, water insecurity has profoundly disproportionate effects on women. These effects manifest in a variety of ways, are intensified by climate change, and speak to the need for gender-focused approaches to solving global development challenges.

Read the latest post in our new series, Uncharted Waters, as we explore the challenges of feeding and nourishing a rapidly growing global population in the face of water scarcity. AND AGRICULTURAL ISSUES

War on Weevils: The FAO has reaffirmed their support of Near Eastern and North African nations that are working to contain the red palm weevil. One of the most invasive pest species, the weevil is a threat to the date palm which is important to the region’s agricultural exports. FAO’s efforts against the red palm weevil began two years ago and will continue for another three.

Crop Storage Technology: The Rwandan Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources called for public and private investment in crop storage technologies hoping to curb post-harvest losses by 11 percent by 2024. Thus far, over 19 million bags have been manufactured, reaching 6 million farmers.

Crops, Emissions, and Rain: Major changes in rainfall are expected to destroy crops unless there is a radical decrease in greenhouse gas emissions. Countries can buy time to adapt to these new rainfall levels if they start cutting down emissions immediately. Most crops consumed worldwide are produced by rain fed agriculture. DIVE

What is the Red Palm Weevil: Rhynchophorus ferrugineus, or the red palm weevil, is a beetle around two to four centimeters long that is typically a rust-red color. The best is a major problem when found on palm plantations, including coconut, date palm, and oil palm as it burrows into the trunk of the palm tree. This destructive action weakens and eventually kills the tree. Originally from Asia, the weevil has spread across Africa and Europe and some Caribbean islands. CRUNCH

Agriculture, Water, and Antimicrobial Resistance: We need surface water resources, but they can create conduits for the movement of waterborne pathogens and antimicrobial resistance, crossing divergent landscapes and human, animal, and wildlife populations. A new report has found that in Botswana, despite a lack of major agriculture or large medical facilities, surface waters already contain antimicrobial resistant bacteria.

Sugar, Water, and Women: India is the world’s largest consumer of sugar. The country’s sugarcane industry is massive, and sugarcane is an incredibly thirsty crop. At the same time, in India more than 60 percent of the labor required to grow sugarcane is done by women. Solidaridad is working to both improve water management practices in the sugarcane industry and also improve the female workers’ wellbeing through a new curriculum.

A Side of Algae: Entrepreneurs and investors have turned to algae as an alternative protein source to help feed our growing population. Within EU countries the algae biomass sector is valued at $2.13 billion and employs 14,000 people in research and development and the supply chain. Algae boasts a fast and environmentally friendly production cycle.

Gender Gap in Farming: Women makes up more than 40 percent of the farming workforce in developing countries but only comprises 13 percent of agricultural landholders. Gender balance in farming has a significant impact in improving food security and breaking the cycle of poverty. IDEAS

Consider Gender in Irrigation: With climate change driving changing rainfall patterns in many rural geographies, access to small-scale irrigation systems is becoming an increasingly important tool for reducing farm production risks. But not all farmers are able to access the benefits these systems provide—women in particular, are often left out of the picture.

Modifying Modification: The latest strides in genetic modification are thanks to something called CRISPR, which are proteins with a genetic guide and the capability to neatly slice gene sequences. CRISPR is already used to optimize freshness in dairy and is on the way to creating drought-tolerant soybeans and super-starchy corn.

Agritech Investments: Agricultural and food technology investments increased by more than 40 percent in 2018, to approximately $17 billion. The United States, China, and India are the largest markets and have seen the most fundraising. Investments are expected to continue to rise as the agricultural and food industries come under pressure from a growing global population, environmental concerns, labor shortages, and changing consumer tastes. REPORT

The President’s Budget: The White House released President Trump’s third budget request to Congress. The document, which lays out the president’s priorities and proposals, includes $42.7 billion for the foreign affairs budget—which includes both development and diplomacy funding—for 2020, a decrease from the $56.1 billion Congress allotted in 2019. The budget emphasizes that other countries should take on a greater “burden” of development spending, including financing multilateral organizations. & COMMODITIES

Hog Prices Rise: China has confirmed its 112th outbreak of African swine fever, and hog prices have reached their highest levels in 14 months as a result. Approximately 1 million pigs have been culled in an effort to contain and eradicate the disease within the world’s largest hog herd. Despite these efforts, hog prices are expected to continue to rise.

World Food Price Index: The UN food agency reported that world food prices have increased in February, mostly in part by a jump in dairy prices. The food price index, which measures monthly changes for a basket of cereals, oilseeds, dairy products, meat, and sugar, is up 1.7 percent compared to January. The index is still about 2.3 percent lower than last year’s level.

Monsanto & Indian Cotton: India’s government will decrease its royalties paid to Monsanto by 49 percent for their GM cotton seeds. Monsanto’s GM cotton seed dominates about 90 percent of Indian’s cotton acreage and this decision could prompt Monsanto to scale back investments. This comes as India’s cotton output has been falling and could lose its leading position in the global cotton market. EVENTS

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
Innovation in Agrifood Supply Chains: Finance, Profitability, and Sustainability
Date: April 10-11
Location: Berkeley, California
FAO/WHO/WTO International Forum on Food Safety and Trade
Date: April 23-24
Location: Geneva, Switzerland
EAT Stockholm Food Forum 2019
Date: June 12-13
Location: Stockholm, Sweden


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