May 10, 2019

Global Food for Thought: North Korea | Chickpeas | Species Extinction

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

North Korea Urgently Needs Food Aid
Due to a combination of prolonged dry spells, high temperature, and floods, North Korea recently had its worst harvest in ten years. Nearly 40 percent of population is now in urgent need of food aid. With a 1.36-million-ton shortage of grain, the government has cut down official rations to less than 11 ounces per person, per day. While analysts agree that responsibility for the crisis rests with the North Korean government’s policy of prioritizing nuclear advancement over the welfare of ordinary citizens, the FAO and WFP have noted that increased sanctions on the country have amplified the crisis. Limited imports of agricultural inputs have had the unintended impact of restricting fuel, fertilizer, and spare parts for agricultural machinery. OF THE WEEK

Sara Naqvi, 36, holds a plate of her favorite Iftar meal, puri-cholea, deep fried bread and spicy chickpeas, as she waits to break her fast in New Delhi. During Ramadan, the ninth and holiest month in the Islamic calendar, Muslims refrain from eating and drinking during daylight hours. (REUTERS/Adnan Abidi) ACTORS 

Bringing Together Food Buyers and Producers in Urban India: The “farm to fork” process in India involves many middlemen and takes two or three days. To improve product quality and prevent farmer income being cut down by intermediaries, Kisan Saathi, a government funded social enterprise, is seeking to reduce this lengthy processes by directing farmers to markets more efficiently.

Elections on the Horizon, South Africans Call for Land Reform: Thousands of black South African smallholder farmers are frustrated by halting efforts to reform land policies formed by centuries of white minority control. Farmers complain that government programs meant to turn small black-owned operations into sustained, mid-sized agricultural businesses are well-intentioned but too slow.

SEE ALSO: What Has Changed in South Africa Since White Rule Ended? INSIGHTS

Reflections on the Leadership and Legacy of Senator Richard Lugar

The world lost a great man and a leading champion of global food security last Sunday with the passing of Senator Richard Lugar, a veteran politician with a 36-year tenure representing Indiana in the Senate. He will be remembered for his strong leadership and dedication to bipartisanship. For the Council’s Global Food and Agriculture Program team, most importantly, he was the original sponsor of the nascent Global Food Security Act, at the time known as the Lugar-Casey Bill.  

Three of our distinguished fellows, Catherine Bertini, Dan Glickman, and Doug Bereuter, wrote on reflections from working with Senator Lugar. AND AGRICULTURAL ISSUES

Special Rice Initiative Project to Support Farmers in Ghana: Supported by Ghana’s Ministry of Agriculture and Food, the Special Rice Initiative Project is designed to empower local farmers and increase rice production by providing farmers with agricultural inputs, fertilizers, and other inputs. This project is part of the government’s strategy to achieve self-sufficient in rice production by 2024.

Tanzania’s 12 Year Plan to Boost Rice Output: Not only a major food crop in Tanzania, rice also is a major source of income for local farmers. With a surging demand for rice, the Tanzanian government has launched a 12-year plan to raise annual rice production by 2.3 million tones and forestall a food crisis in the region.

Climate-Proofed Chickpeas: Researchers in India have identified genes that create a resistance to drought and heat for chickpea varieties. Typically, high temperatures reduce chickpea production—droughts are thought to have caused a global chickpea yield reduction of more than 70 percent. DIVE

Vital Chickpeas: Chickpeas are an important crop and food source for many and are primarily grown in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. India is the leader in chickpea production, growing 65 percent of the world’s crop—nearly 12 million tons each year. As a good source of protein, vitamin A, and many minerals, chickpeas are an important source of nutrition for many smallholder farmers. CRUNCH

One Million Species Face Risk of Extinction: Nature is declining at an unprecedented rate in human history. One million plant and animal species are now threatened with extinction, many within the next few decades, according to a recently released UN assessment report. This is the first intergovernmental report on biodiversity and most comprehensive ever completed and notes that protecting biodiversity amounts to protecting humanity, as we depend on the richness of the natural world for needed resources and foods.

Persons Living with HIV Face Food Insecurity: A recent study conducted by the Ghana AIDS Commission with support from the World Food Programme has found that around 50 percent of household with PLHIV faces food insecurity due to lack of access to adequate and nutritious food.

Opinion – Crafting Sustainable Food Systems for the Next Generation: Creating fully sustainable food systems is vital for the survival of this planet and our species. However, we cannot make the serious changes we need without revising the incentive structures of modern finance that dominates so much of our modern politics and discourse, says Janez Potocnik, Chairman of the RISE Foundation and Chair of FFA 2019. IDEAS

Automated Machine for Farmers: Knowing the labor challenges and chemical problems in weeding, FarmWise has developed a chemical- and labor-free solution: an autonomous weeding machine that physically removes weeds without harming crops.

Meet the New Meat: In wealthy countries, the number of people committing to a plant-based diet has dramatically increased and food companies are taking note.  Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods are two companies that are racing to tap into the growing demand by creating products that aim to mimic the taste of beef with only plant ingredients. The jury is out however on if they present a truly healthier option.

SEE ALSO: Beyond Meat Fattens Up as Shares More than Double in IPO REPORT

US Imposes Tariffs on Mexican Tomatoes: Failing to reach a trade deal with Mexico after the breakdown of the Tomato Suspension Agreement, the United States will hit Mexico’s $2 billion tomato industry with a 17.5 percent import tariff. Mexico is the world’s largest exporter of tomatoes, accounting for approximate 54 percent of the US market. The tariff is likely to cost the country’s industry $350 million a year and will send US tomato prices soaring.

SEE ALSO: It’s ‘Guacanomics.’ Trump’s Threat to Close the US-Mexico Border Threatens Avocados & COMMODITIES

China’s Soybean Imports Rise: China's soybean imports jumped 10.7 percent from the same period a year earlier according to customs data. China imported 7.64 million tons of soybeans in April and most of the cargo were Brazilian beans. China slapped a 25 percent tariff on US soybeans last July as part of a trade war between the world's two largest economies.

SEE ALSO: US Hog Futures Extend Setback on US-China Trade Tensions

Zambia’s Maize Output Down: Zambia’s 2019 maize production is expected to fall 16 percent to about 2 million tons from 2.39 million tons last year according to the nation’s Agriculture Minister Michael Katambo. Officials believe that the decreased production was largely caused by an extended period of dry weather. EVENTS

Innovation Forum: The Future of Food
Date: May 22-23
Location: Chicago, IL
Global Launch of the UN Decade of Family Farming, 2019-2028
Date: May 27-29
Location: Rome, Italy

EAT Stockholm Food Forum 2019
Date: Jun 12-13
Location: Stockholm, Sweden
Water and Sustainability – The Conversation Continues in Chicago
Date: June 13
Location: Chicago, IL
1st International Conference on Agroecology Transforming Agriculture & Food Systems in Africa
Date: June 18-21
Location: Nairobi, Kenya

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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

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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.