August 9, 2019

Global Food for Thought: Livestock Crisis | Post-Conflict Farming | Rice Losses

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Swine Fever Hits Europe: 

Eastern Europe has seen its instances of African swine fever increase dramatically over the past month, raising fears that the disease will spread to top European pork producers. Slovakia reported its first case last month, while Bulgaria has reported 18 cases across six farms. Romania has struggled with African swine fever since last year, culling 200,000 pigs when the country’s largest pig breeder experienced an outbreak. OF THE WEEK

A Maasai herder walks with grazing cattle during a celebration of initiation. (REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic) ACTORS 

Kuwait Helping to Fight Hunger in Syria: Kuwait, in collaboration with the FAO, is giving $3 million in order to help around 20,000 vulnerable people and their extended families in Syria. The donation will help activities aimed at increasing the resilience of farming communities while improving food security and nutrition. Conflict and droughts have led to more than 6 million Syrians facing hunger and high food prices.  

Aid for Zimbabwe: The United Nations has recently increased its aid appeal for Zimbabwe to $331.5 million, estimating that over half the nation’s population requires food aid. A drought in the midst of Zimbabwe’s worst economic crisis in a decade has seen the maize harvest cut in half and food staple prices double. The United Nations has been providing emergency food aid and water and sanitation to vulnerable families.


Agri-Food Technology and Policy: Feeding the world will require  innovation and creativity. Agri-Food tech is booming, with investments soaring and technological innovation rapidly increasing. However, if governments have policies that do not integrate well, advances may not disseminate quickly enough. Additionally, the policies countries choose will have trade and food security implications in the future.


Livestock Crisis: Many of Kenya’s Maasai people – traditionally livestock herders – are turning to crops to supplement their income. More frequent droughts are making livestock rearing increasingly untenable. The government is incentivizing herders to adopt agriculture by providing high-yield seeds, sustainable cultivation training, and water pans for irrigation.

Land Use and Climate Change: A new IPCC report warns that a worldwide transformation of agriculture and land management systems is necessary to keep global temperatures at safe levels. Agriculture and other land use produce almost a quarter of GHGs. In turn, climate change exacerbates land degradation and weather events that harm agricultural production. The report proposes improvements in land management and a major shift towards plant-based diets.

Bangladesh Rice Losses: Recent floods in Bangladesh washed away crops that would have yielded 400,000 tons of rice. The government’s Department of Agricultural Extension hopes to avert a shortage by tapping into its rice reserves. The government has dispensed $7.5 million in aid and begun providing seeds and fertilizer through a farm rehabilitation program DIVE

Behind the Drought in Zimbabwe: Zimbabwe’s food crisis is in part because of a drought this year, which has been attributed to the effects of El Nino. This weather phenomenon occurs every 2 to 7 years. The El Nino Southern Oscillation is when warm water off the western coast of South America displaces nutrient-rich cold water and shifts global weather patterns. It has been linked simultaneous crop failure in many different parts of the globe. CRUNCH

AI Creating Food Combinations: AI is being increasingly used in order to develop flavor combinations more quickly and efficiently, using human taste panel data. Through machine learning, this technology could potentially be used to predict wide sweeping trends in consumer preferences and tastes. 


Yemen Aid Deal: The United Nation’s World Food Program has reached a deal with Yemen’s Houthi militia to lift a partial suspension of aid enacted in June. The WFP restricted its aid in response to concerns that food shipments were being diverted. The suspension, which limited aid to only malnourished children and pregnant or nursing mothers, affected approximately 850,000 people. 

Post-Conflict Farming: Many Colombian farmers displaced due to conflict are now returning to their homes, and the government is implementing several development programs to provide them with sustainable business opportunities. With support from the WFP and FAO, remote, rural people are provided with seeds, livestock, and training to re-start businesses.


Opinion – Invest in Youth: By 2030, agribusiness is expected to be a $1 trillion industry in sub-Saharan Africa. As major stakeholders in the agricultural value chain, African youth need the resourcesand opportunities to access this emerging market. More government initiatives, like Kenya’s Young Africa Works program, need to support young entrepreneurs at the forefront of new technologies.
Agrix Tech Helps African Farmers: Cameroonian startup company Agrix Tech is looking to help increase agricultural productivity in Africa by helping identify and treat crop pests and disease. It is projected that African farmers lose around 49 percent of expected total crop yield per annum. With Agrix Tech’s mobile app, farmers can scan a sample of a plant and receive diagnosis and suggested treatment.


Relocation Ruckus: The Inspector General has raised questions about the legality of the USDA’s relocation of its Economic Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. The IG stated that the USDA failed to seek Congressional approval before spending any money appropriated for the move within 60 days, which was mandated by the 2018 fiscal omnibus. & COMMODITIES

Trade War Hurting Farmers: In response to US tariffs on virtually all Chinese imports, China has asked its state-owned companies to stop importing agricultural products from the United States. China has increased its soybean imports from Australia and Brazil and drawn from its state reserves to meet demand. Addressing concerns from farmers, Trump suggested farmers could receive more trade aid in 2020, though many farmers have stated it wouldn’t be enough.

US-EU Beef Trade Agreement: The United States reached an agreement to sell more American beef to Europe, a deal seen as a victory in the middle of the Administration's trade war with China. US farmers will be initially allocated 40 percent of the annual EU quota on hormone-free beef, with the goal of 80 percent by the seventh year of the trade agreement. EVENTS

Global Food Innovation Summit
Date: September 3-5
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Aid & International Development Forum Global Summit
Date: September 4
Location: Washington, DC
Feeding the Future
Date: September 26
Location: London, England

Borlaug Dialogue International Symposium
Date: October 16-18
Location: Des Moines, Iowa

CGIAR Big Data in Agriculture Convention
Date: October 16-18
Location: Hyderabad, India

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.