October 9, 2020 | By Julia Whiting

Global Food for Thought: Peace Prize | Women's Hunger | Dodgy Berries

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Women Disproportionately Affected by COVID-19 Hunger  

COVID-19 may leave an additional 130 million people hungry by the end of the year, according to the United Nations. And a recent report by CARE, titled “Left Out and Left Behind: Ignoring Women Will Prevent Us from Solving the Hunger Crisis,” shows how women and girls are bearing the brunt of that burden. Business closures and social distancing measures have barred women and girls from work across the globe and rising prices, food shortages, and market closures have made it harder for women to secure food. Despite the disproportionate challenges facing women and girls, many policymakers have failed to address gender inequalities. CARE argues that policymakers and organizations must confront gender inequality to overcome the hunger crises at large. 

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


Raspberries are pictured during a harvest season at a local farm near Chillan, Chile. (REUTERS/Jose Luis Saavedra) 


The Case of Cameroon: Food security has long been an element of conflict and political instability. The Council’s US Navy Federal Executive Fellow, Commander Michele Lowe, explains how food insecurity fears in Cameroon can fuel instability in our latest collaboration with Agri-Pulse. As the largest foreign assistance provider in the region, the US would be on the hook to lead response efforts should Cameroon falter.   

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

Scaling Soils Restoration: A Roadmap for Action
Date: October 15
Time: 7 am CT

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


Dodgy Berries Dodge Regulations: A Reuters investigation linked a 2017 norovirus outbreak in Quebec to a scheme involving raspberries coming from the previously banned Chinese supplier, Harbin Gaotai Food Co Ltd. Harbin Gaotai raspberries entered Canada through a backdoor in the form of falsely labeled fruit shipped from Chile by Frutti di Bosco. The raspberries were imported from China to Chile, through New-Zealand, repackaged in Chile, and sold to Canada, the US, Kuwait, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates. 

Tracking Your Chocolate: The chocolate industry has faced criticism and scrutiny over child labor and environmental impacts for years. While many companies have achieved partial visibility on the cacao beans purchased to produce chocolate, the remainder are difficult to trace. GPS and mobile technology have helped the industry’s efforts to achieve traceability.  

Pork Miracle: Pork was once an occasional luxury in China, but its consumption is rising across the country alongside the national average income. Threats to pork production in China, such as a growing African swine fever (ASF) epidemic, threaten not just China’s pork supply, but the whole world’s. To address these threats, Chinese pig farmers are turning to technological advancements, such as AI. 

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

Counting Beans: Cacao trees produce pods that contain 20-50 seeds. These seeds are referred to as beans, which produce chocolate. One pound of bittersweet chocolate requires 400-500 beans. A skilled worker can harvest 1500 pods per day—which translates to between 75 and 150 pounds of chocolate.  

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

Fishing Fleet Goes Dark: The non-profit Oceana reports that currently only 126 of 300 previously counted Chinese fishing vessels near Peru are visible through the ships’ Automatic Identification Systems (AIS). Because AIS is not mandatory, the fishing fleet may be purposefully disabling its systems to avoid detection and switching trackers back on after exiting protected marine areas. By pressuring international governments to mandate the use of AIS and increase the availability of fisheries data, supply chain transparency might be improved and illegal activities less likely to occur.     


Fertilizing Emissions: A five-year study has found that rising use of nitrogen-based fertilizers from 1980-2016 has increased global emissions of nitrous oxide (N20). N20 is a lesser-known greenhouse gas, often overshadowed in policy decisions by carbon dioxide and methane.  


When Invasive Species Become Dinner: A broad movement is emerging to reduce, if not eradicate, invasive species through a novel approach – cooking them for your next meal. The theory goes that the more people eat invasive species, the more incentive there is to hunt and harvest them until the supply is gone. This approach comes with a host of challenges, including what should happen if the plan backfires and recasts these species as a valued commodity. 


Smallholders, Big Influence: A group of Senators spearheaded by Jim Risch (R-ID) and Jim Inhofe (R-OK) presented a letter to US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to urge the speedy conclusion of a comprehensive free trade agreement with Taiwan. Such an agreement would lessen Taiwan’s dependence on trade with China and bolster American economic influence in the region, but Taiwan’s smallholder-driven agricultural sector threatens to impede any deal that does not grant them significant concessions. 

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

Peace Prize: The World Food Program was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for its work combatting global hunger. The Nobel Committee praised the WFP for creating and supporting conditions for peace in conflict-affected nations, and for preventing the use of hunger as a weapon of war. The WFP estimates that the number of people experiencing severe food insecurity could double to 265 million by the end of the year. 

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

Still Rising: The FAO food price index rose in September, for the fourth month in a row. The rise was especially driven by cereals and vegetable oils. Wheat prices have risen dramatically, in part due to Russian export quotas. The FAO projects a record high cereal harvest in 2020. Sugar prices fell while dairy prices remained stable.  

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

The World Food Prize Borlaug Dialogues
Date: October 12-18

Farm Journal Foundation University Speaker Series
Date: October 15
Time: 11:30 am CT

FFA2020 Online Live 
Date: October 26
Time: 3 pm CET

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.