June 19, 2020

Global Food for Thought: Frog Trade | Tracking Trees | Effects of Remittances

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Report on Remittances

Migrant workers are crucial for many countries’ agricultural sectors, and especially in high-income countries. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused problems in agricultural labor for months, and a new report details the economic consequences of these disruptions. Remittances from expatriate workers make up, on average, 60 percent of recipients’ family income. As of 2018, remittance flows into low-income and fragile states surpassed foreign direct investment, portfolio investment, and foreign aid as the most important source of income. With nations taking action to protect migrant workers, the disruptions in remittances will likely continue.

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

​​​​​Frogs are seen in a net at a market in Bankok. (REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun)


Resilient Food Systems: The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare weak links in the global food supply chain. Food gets wasted even as supermarket shelves are empty, and food waste is predicted to increase due to limited trade, unavailability of labor, and border restrictions. Join Bayer Crop Science Division President Liam Condon, Managing Director of Food and Nature at the World Business Council for Sustainable Development Diane Holdorf, Ruramiso Mashumba, Chairperson of the Zimbabwe Farmers Union, and Ertharin Cousin in our June 22nd conversation on short and long-term solutions to strengthen the global food system.

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

LIVE STREAM: Building Better, More Resilient Food Systems
Date: June 22
Time: 10 am CDT

LIVE STREAM: Global Issues We Can't Ignore
Date: July 7
Time: 9 am CDT

LIVE STREAM: How to Understand our Globalized World
Date: July 14
Time: 1 pm CDT

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


Cotton Subsidies: In order to maintain their position as one of the top cotton producers in Africa, Mali cotton farmers receive state subsidies to cultivate crops such as corn and millet. However, as coronavirus has slashed cotton prices, farmers are unable to afford inputs used in food production. Some 3.5 million farmers will be affected.

SEE ALSO: Climate, Conflict, and COVID stress rural Mali

Swine Fever Spreads in Nigeria: Farmers are estimating that almost one million pigs have been culled in Nigeria due to Africa Swine Fever. There is no centralized system for recording animal disease outbreaks in the country, which makes the spread of this virus difficult to track. The government has taken steps to mitigate the effects of ASF, but farmers state that more and bigger actions are necessary.  

Frog Trade: The global demand for frogs is huge—it is estimated that 100 million to 400 million frogs are traded globally as food each year, with 41 percent of traded species classified as threatened. A new report shows how harvest could be more sustainable for both frogs’ populations and the local economies that depend on them.

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

Leaping into the World of Frogs: The US, France, and Belgium together make up more than three quarters of global frog imports. After India and Bangladesh banned the export of frogs in the late 1980s, Indonesia took over the mantle of top world exporter of frogs. Although most frogs exported from Indonesia are classified as Rana macrodon, misidentification is rampant in the industry.

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

An App for Access: The African agri-tech market is estimated to be worth $2.6 billion. DigiFarm, a farming app directed to smallholder farmers, bypasses middlemen and provides direct access to seeds, fertilizers, credit providers and bulk purchasers. The app registered 1 million users in a 2-year pilot and is projected to expand further.


Tracking Trees: About 70 percent of Myanmar’s rural population rely on the nation’s approximately 29 million hectares of forests. Yet the nation has the world’s third-highest deforestation rate. A new UN project will measure and monitor Myanmar’s forests, as well as develop global guidelines for protecting forests in conflict zones.


Seawater Farming: Arable farmland is dramatically declining—the past four decades has lost one-third of global arable land. Agrisea, a Canadian startup that’s developing salt-tolerant crops to grow in seawater, may be one alternative to arable land scarcity.


“Chlorinated Chicken” Chronicles: US refusal to compromise fair access for its agricultural products abroad may present major stumbling blocks in trade negotiations with the UK. The UK’s larger trading relationship with the EU indicates that potential trade negotiations will be heavily influenced by the EU’s more stringent food and agricultural sanitary standards. These standards are a key disagreement between the US and UK, exemplified by the “chlorinated chicken” debate, and would require revisions to either countries’ stances on food safety in order to strike a trade deal.  

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

Dirty Dairy: A new report from The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy has found that the thirteen largest dairy operations in the world, combined, produce as many greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions as the United Kingdom as a whole. The report further asserts that industry emissions have risen in recent years. Defenders of the dairy industry claim that the rise in emissions is not represented correctly by this study, and that mergers, rather than increased emissions, explain the companies’ collective footprint.

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

State Action Provokes Anxiety: The government of Argentina is taking steps to expropriate one of the nation’s leading agricultural companies. Vicentin, Argentina’s top exporter of soy meal and soy cooking oil, filed for bankruptcy in late 2019. The move from the government to take over Vicentin has caused concern among farmers.

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

Reimagining Food Systems: Driving Action for a Post-COVID World
Date: June 24
Time: 9 am EDT

A New Era for Food and Climate: Driving Transformative Actions 
Date: June 25
Time: 8:30 am GMT

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.