May 15, 2020

Global Food for Thought: Global Nutrition | Flooding | Mango Season

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Global Nutrition Report Highlights Nutrition Equity 

The UN released its 2020 Global Nutrition Report this week. It is the fourth annual Global Nutrition Report published to assess where progress is being made, and what challenges remain, toward eliminating malnutrition of all forms. This year’s report uses an equity lens to highlight how unjust systems and processes create inequalities that reduce people’s access to healthy, nourishing food. Only five years remain to reach global nutrition targets, and no nation is set to meet all ten. Nutrition must be mainstreamed in food and health systems, the report argues, and the inequalities in these systems must be addressed to end global malnutrition. The report findings are made more urgent by the COVID-19 pandemic, which is revealing how deadly nutrition inequities can be. Undernourished people’s immune systems are weaker, and less able to fight off viruses. OF THE WEEK

A man shops for mangoes during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in Singapore. (REUTERS/Edgar Su)


Lessons from the Pandemic: How has the pandemic changed our understanding of global leadership? Distinguished Fellow Catherine Bertini continues her successful new virtual event series answering that question and many more. Following this week’s conversation with Helen Clark, Bertini will discuss global responses to public health emergencies with former Director-General of the World Health Organization and former Norwegian Prime Minister, Gro Brundtland. The pandemic offers a learning opportunity for local food systems as well as global. The latest piece in our Next Generation blog series looks at how consumers, farmers, and governments can turn crisis into transformational action. COUNCIL EVENTS

LIVE STREAM: The Global Resurgence of Antisemitism
Date: May 19
Time: 2:15 pm CT

Food Talk Live with Roger Thurow
Date: May 20
Time: 4 p.m. CDT

Food in Focus: Global Hunger and the COVID Pandemic with Catherine Bertini & Ertharin Cousin
Date: May 22
Time: 12 p.m. CDT

LIVE STREAM: Former Norwegian Prime Minister Brundtland on Pandemic Leadership
Date: May 26
Time: 10 a.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. 


Protests Over Aid: Six people were killed in Afghanistan while protesting what they called unfair food aid distribution during the coronavirus pandemic. While the Afghanistan government has begun free distribution of bread for the poor, its high rates of poverty coupled with the global pandemic have caused significant issues, as seen with the protests.  

Flooding in East Africa: East Africa is currently experiencing severe flooding following weeks of heavy rains, displacing thousands and further damaging crops already struggling due to the locust swarms. The heavy rain is also encouraging the breeding of those locusts, and food concerns in the region continue to worsen. While the FAO has announced some gains in the protection of crops against the locusts, the fight will likely continue for many months. 

Mango Season: India supplies half of the world’s mangoes, and mango production is a highly lucrative crop for farmers. This year in India, mango season and the novel coronavirus have arrived at the same time. The national lockdown has made harvest and movement of mango crops difficult, affecting both domestic and international markets and pushing down prices. DIVE

How many kinds of mangos are there? India’s mangoes are prized by poets and farmers alike. The nation grows at least 1000 different varieties of the fruit, each with specific flavor profiles and climatic and geographic needs for optimal growth. Many are known by multiple names, depending on where they are grown. Alphonso mangoes are internationally known as “king” of the fruit’s varieties, but other popular varieties include Kesar, Banganapalli, and Langra CRUNCH

A Dashboard to Steer Policy: A project two years in the making, the Food Systems Dashboard, is set for a beta launch in June. Using data over 140 indicators from more than 30 sources, the Dashboard is meant to help decision makers assess food systems and identify priority actions to improve dietary and nutritional outcomes. The tool will be piloted throughout 2020 in several countries facing distinct food system challenges.      


Cyclone Harold: When Cyclone Harold passed through Vanuatu in early April, it displaced half of the country’s residents and destroyed much of its agriculture. It is estimated that damages amounted to $100 million, however limited aid has been secured for the country due to the coronavirus pandemic.  

The View From Above: Accurate climate data are crucial for helping smallholders plan their growing for a season. Scientists at the Alliance for Bioversity International and CIAT use satellite information about the sea-surface temperature to generate crop-specific forecasts. Space-based data collection provides researchers with climate data about regions with limited weather station data.   


Contact-Free Grocery: With the current apprehension around visiting public locations like grocery stores, different companies are developing no-contact alternatives to provide consumers groceries. Moo Cow Market is one such company, delivering refrigerated essentials directly sourced from local providers to homes. With major companies like Amazon and Instacart often experiencing extensive delays for grocery deliveries due to high demand, smaller operations may be a necessary addition.   

Nutrition at Work: Over half of the world’s population will spend one third of their adult life at work. Employers have a unique opportunity to improve the nutrition and health of their employees, and the Global Alliance for Nutrition, Eat Well Global and the SUN Business Network have created a handbook to help.  


Congressional Support for Food Security: The US House of Representatives is now highlighting the need for global food security, with two bipartisan letters directed towards USAID and USDA to ensure continued food assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic. One letter, led by Representatives Jimmy Panetta (D-CA20) and Glenn Thompson (R-PA15) is also directed towards Secretary Pompeo, and emphasizes the purchase and shipment of American-grown commodities to countries in need through USAID's Office of Food for Peace. The other letter, sent by the House Hunger Caucus co-chairs, Representatives Jim McGovern (D-MA2), Roger Marshall (R-KS1), Chellie Pingree (D-ME1), and Jackie Walorski (R-IN2) focuses on global malnutrition and the need for continued US assistance. ACTORS 

A Vulnerable Time for Workers: The UN is warning of the possible dramatic increases in exploitation of workers in the agricultural sector and others in which trafficking is already commonly found. The UN argues the worldwide increases in unemployment and reductions in income will make the typically vulnerable even more at risk and assistance must be provided in order to keep these groups safe. & COMMODITIES

Sink or Swim: Australia’s sea food industry is expected to experience a $400 million loss in value for this year. Disruptions to global supply chains, as well as limited purchasing from restaurants, are primarily to blame. While producers have shifted focused to local sales, losses will still be significant.  

A Closer Look at Cereals: International prices of wheat and rice increased in April due to high demand around the world, while maize prices fell as a result of large global supplies and good production in South America. The surge in prices of rice and wheat have led to price warnings in a number of countries as countries attempt to maintain a supply. However, overall world food commodity prices fell for the third month in a row. UPCOMING EVENTS


2020 Global Nutrition Report: Good Nutrition for All
Date: May 19
Time: 8 am CDT

The Coming Crisis: Preventing a Hunger Catastrophe amid COVID-19 
Date: May 19
Time: 9 am CDT

#HeiferTogether Live Chat with Dan Glickman
Date: May 29
Time: 11 am CDT

Generating Resilience+ to Reduce Poverty and Spur Agricultural Growth 
Date: June 3 
Time: 9 am CDT 
SEE ALSO: Resilience+ Explained

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. 

| By Janet Fierro

Guest Commentary - Rural Niger Women find Opportunity and Hope through Innovative Business Model

When researchers set out to find natural ways to manage a crop-destroying pest in sub-Saharan Africa cowpea fields they knew the results could have significant positive impact on smallholder farmers. What they may not have expected was the significance of the cottage industry it inspired and the entrepreneurial spirit of the rural women of Niger who led it.