March 8, 2019

Global Food for Thought: North Korea | Swine Fever | WTO

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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. Register now. STORY

UN Reports Chronic Food Insecurity in North Korea

A new report estimates that 11 million North Koreans, more than 40 percent of the population, are undernourished. Officials believe that one in five children are stunted, and healthcare and access to clean water are limited. The UN humanitarian team in the country is calling for $120 million in funding to address the urgent need. A severe heat wave, lack of access to modern agricultural technology, and scarcity of arable land is contributing to a serious food shortage which is placing the population at risk. OF THE WEEK


African swine fever is usually deadly for pigs, as no treatment is available. Although humans are not susceptible, an outbreak in a pig population could have serious socio-economic consequences. REUTERS ACTORS

Accelerating Solutions: The World Food Program is taking a Silicon Valley-inspired approach to tackling hunger through the new Innovation Accelerator, a 100 percent voluntarily funded initiative which accepts applications from across the globe. Those that are selected receive training and funding. The Accelerator has passed 30 projects, and eight are actively being scaled up.
Indigenous Lands: Brazil is home to about 850,000 indigenous people that live on about 13 percent of Brazil’s territory. Their land is protected by Brazil’s 1988 constitution, which prohibits commercial farming and mining on indigenous reserves without specific congressional approval. Conflicts and tensions over the land continue to increase as Brazil’s President believe the land should be used for other purposes. INSIGHTS

Uncharted Waters: The Livestock Ladder’s Water Footprint

The food we eat is more than the meal on our plate. It’s the resources that went in to producing that food. Animal-sourced foods, simply put, have an outsized footprint. But there is one enormous benefit of livestock: they are among the most effective tools we have to lift smallholder farmers out of poverty. But what’s the water cost of all this?

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

Prevention and Control: Facing 110 outbreaks of African swine fever in 28 provinces, China’s agriculture ministry has said that it must step up its prevention and control. It was suggested that authorities should combat illegal activities, such as the concealing of outbreaks and the selling and disposing infected pigs. Vietnam’s Prime Minister has also called for drastic measures to be taken to take care of the outbreaks.

Olive Declines: Italy’s olive harvest has taken a major hit, dropping 57 percent this year. The drop is believed to be caused by climate change events such as erratic rainfalls, early spring frosts, strong winds and summer droughts. Optimism is low that the olive harvest will return to its stable state because average temperatures in the Mediterranean have risen and precipitation has fallen.

Tractor Aid: Under the National Agricultural Advisory Services, the Ugandan government has procured 280 tractors to help organized and registered farming groups engage in large scale commercial crop production. Implementation of agriculture machines will be difficult because of land fragmentation. Operation and maintenance training on the tractors will also be supplied. DIVE

Fighting Swine Fever Goes High-Tech: China is the world’s largest producer and consumer of pork. As African Swine Fever continues to spread in the countries, major producers are seeking innovative solutions. Two large tech companies, Alibaba and are using facial and voice recognition technology to monitor the health of pigs and track any sign of behavior change that might indicate the disease. Such solutions work best for major pork operations however, and 30 percent of Chinese pork production occurs via small, backyard farms. CRUNCH

Opinion - More than a Lifestyle Change: The recent EAT-Lancet Commission report on food and climate change has been read largely as a charge to reduce meat consumption. But fighting climate change will require more than a dietary shift, Claudia Ringler argues. The potential for conflict between SDGs 2 and 6, hunger and water, require a nuanced approach to development. Projects should attempt to contribute to multiple SDGs at once, rather than focusing on one at a time.

Opinion - Best Ways to Solve Water Woes: Reducing global water use depends on agriculture, as it accounts for 92 percent of water footprint. Switching from flood irrigation to drip irrigation systems and reducing food waste can improve the efficiency of agricultural water use. Changing to a low-water diet is also important to reduce water use.

Relief in Rwanda: In an effort that could eliminate stunting and malnutrition, the Rwanda Agriculture Board has started a project that will donate chicken to every poor household. Rwandans consume very low animal resource proteins, especially from eggs, meat, and milk. The project will eventually work on vaccinating children against prevalent diseases.

Meeting the Food and Water SDGs: Water and sanitation are critical to life itself. Allison Kooser of Opportunity International writes that without sufficient access to either clean water or sufficient sanitation, more than 800 children die each day from preventable diseases. Progress on the Sustainable Development Goals will depend on investment, maintenance, and ongoing training. IDEAS

Solar Pumps: Practical Action, a development agency, installed solar-powered water pumps in rural Nepal via funding from the European Union and the Jersey Overseas Aid. This dramatically improved access to water and has allowed farmers to boost incomes. Commercial farming is expected to significantly increase from the water pumps.

The Threat of Green Deserts to Tomorrow’s Food Production: Over the past 50 years, while the world population has doubled and the demands on global agriculture have tripled, the proportion of people suffering from hunger has been cut in half. Ginya Truitt Nakata of The Nature Conservancy writes that we’ve seen progress, but not a problem solved, and continued progress will depend on preserving soil health in our food systems. REPORT

US Wins WTO Ruling Against China Grain Subsidies: The WTO ruled against China’s subsidies for grains, as they crossed WTO limit of 8.5 percent of the total value of production. China is the largest subsidizer of agriculture with $212 billion in farm subsidies, compared to the European Union’s $100 billion or the United States’ $33 billion. Similarly, India was rebuked by the United States and China at WTO for suggesting its price support for pulses was 1.5 percent of the value of production. The United States and Canada asserted it is between 31 percent to 85 percent.

SEE ALSO: Mexican Farmers Urge ‘Mirror’ Tariffs on Trump’s Rural Base & COMMODITIES

US Push on Food Trade with EU: Facing growing domestic pressure from US farm lobbies, Congress, and Trump administration officials, US and EU trade negotiators will meet again to avoid a fight over agriculture. Although there was no mention of agriculture in the White House agreement, President Trump threatened to impose tariffs unless the European Union accepts US demand on agriculture.

China Restricts Canadian Grain Processor: China has issued an import ban on Richardson International Ltd., the largest Canadian-own grain processor that accounts for roughly 20 percent of Canadian grains and oilseeds export, further escalating diplomatic tensions between the two countries.

Russian Wheat: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has confirmed that Moscow has and will continue to supply Venezuela with wheat. Lavrov’s reasoning was that efforts by Western nations to isolate Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in the face of a challenge from the opposition were causing problems, but that Moscow is trying to help with supplies. EVENTS

SXSW Conference Panel: Cultivating the Next Generation of Food Leaders
Date: March 13
Location: Austin, Texas
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
FAO/WHO/WTO International Forum on Food Safety and Trade
Date: April 23-24
Location: Geneva, Switzerland
EAT Stockholm Food Forum 2019
Date: Jun 12-13
Location: Stockholm, Sweden


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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.


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Bread Blog, Bread for the World

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One Acre Fund Blog, One Acre Fund

Overseas Development Institute Blog, Overseas Development Institute

Oxfam America Blog, Oxfam America

Preventing Postharvest Loss, ADM Institute

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WFP USA Blog, World Food Program USA


| 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.