May 3, 2019

Global Food for Thought: Remembering Richard Lugar | Smallholder Farmers | Self-Driving Tractors

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



Food transcends beyond the plate, creating both pleasure and purpose. It defines our place in the world and the issues we care most about. This year’s James Beard Foundation honorees are recognized for their leadership within their communities, their contributions to their cultural heritage, and their utilization of farming and food as a form of advocacy for social good. On May 7, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs will host a conversation on how these leaders have elevated social issues through food and culture.

Register today to attend. STORY

Richard Lugar, Champion of Global Food Security Efforts, Dies at 87

Richard Lugar, the longest-serving US senator in the history of Indiana, ardent foe of nuclear proliferation, and long-time backer of global agriculture development, has died. Lugar is remembered for his civility, bipartisan style, and depth of passion for public service. Lugar was key to developing the 1990 and 1996 Farm Bills, which worked to modernize the American farm system. The Lugar Center, under his  leadership, sought to create informed debate on global issues such as global food security. In his own words, “promoting food security benefits Americans and US national security, supports global stability and prosperity, and reflects a strong current of American humanitarianism.” OF THE WEEK

An indigenous woman takes part in a march to protest to defend indigenous land and cultural rights that they say are threatened by the government of Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro, in Brasilia, Brazil. (REUTERS/Adriano Machado)​​​​​​ ACTORS 

India Hikes Wheat Import Duty to Support Local Farmers: While India’s wheat production is expected to reach 99.1 million tons in 2019, the local wheat prices have fallen by over 11 percent. In an effort to contain rural discontent with low crop prices, India’s government raised its import duty on wheat to 40 percent.

UK Injects $150 million to Boost Agriculture in Uganda: Under a joint venture deal signed with the Uganda’s Agriculture Ministry, two UK firms-Alvan Blanch Development Company and Colas Ltd., have invested $150 million in to the country’s agriculture sector to help boost the country’s crop production and post-harvest handling.

Indigenous Women Lead Land Rights Fight: Brazil's indigenous women have been overturning tradition to step into the spotlight and lead an international push to defend their tribal land rights. Brazil's 850,000 indigenous peoples live on reservations that make up 13 percent of the territory. Bolsonaro, Brazil’s President, has said they live in poverty and he wants to assimilate them by allowing development of their vast lands, currently protected by law. INSIGHTS

From the Roots: Connecting Culture, Food, and Purpose

Food transcends beyond the plate, creating both pleasure and purpose. It defines our place in the world and the issues we care most about. This year’s James Beard Foundation honorees are recognized for their leadership within their communities, their contributions to their cultural heritage, and their utilization of farming and food as a form of advocacy for social good. On May 7, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs will host a conversation on how these leaders have elevated social issues through food and culture.

Register today to attend.
The event will be livestreamed AND AGRICULTURAL ISSUES

Kenya Becomes First African Nation to Export Avocados to China: An avocado trade deal was reached between President Kenyatta and President Xi, making Kenya the first African country accessing to Chinese avocado market. It is estimated that the Chinese market will take in more than 40 percent of Kenya’s avocado produce.

Opinion - Data, Smallholder Farmers, and Sustainable Practices: There are around 33 million smallholder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa who contribute up to 80 percent of food production in the region but many of them still rely on poor, inefficient farming practice that have affected the soils. Digital technology might be the key to transform these farmers into champions of sustainability and productivity.

Destructive Pest Spreads in China: After first spotted in China’s southwestern Yunnan province in January, the fall armyworm continues spreading to new provinces as corn seedlings emerged in the spring. While local governments are working with farmers to limit the damage, some people are still concerned about its potential threat to grain production. DIVE

Smallholder Farmers Can Feed the World-But Need the Resources to Do So: Smallholder farmers largely rely on rainfall for their water supply and are at the greatest risk of total crop failure in the face of challenges like changing climate patterns, unpredictable water supplies, and increased demand for diverse diets. The reliability and quality of both agricultural and nonagricultural water supplies will decline without significant improvements in water governance, management strategies,
policy, and investment. CRUNCH

How Self-Driving Tractors and AI Are Changing Agriculture: Autonomous machines and AI have brought enormous changes to agricultural industry. Taranis, an AI-powered agriculture intelligence platform, can help farmers to pre-emptively avert crop yield loss by monitoring fields and detect early symptoms of nutrient efficiencies and crop diseases.

Heavy Rain Disrupt Food Aid for Survivors of Mozambique Cyclones: Torrential rain returned to northern Mozambique after Cyclone Kenneth made landfall, derailing the delivery of food supplies and aid operation. Having been struck by two cyclones within a single season, the country, already vulnerable to food shortages, now faces a very complex humanitarian situation.

The Noise Takers: Nearly 90 percent of families in Venezuela now do not have enough money to purchase the food they need. The mango is becoming a key food source for people in this time of need, as they grow abundantly in Venezuela—so much so, that locals are calling them ‘the noise takers’ as they quiet hungry stomachs. While mangoes are high in vitamin C, A, and fiber, there is very little protein content in the fruit. IDEAS

A Hardier Tomato: Mr. Gates has been organically farming tomatoes in California for 25 years but galvanized by climate change he now specifically focuses on developing varieties that are hardy and heat- and cold-tolerant. He hopes that this will both preserve the tomato as a food source in the future and also expand the zones where they can flourish.

SEE ALSO: From Apples to Popcorn, Climate Change is Altering the Foods America Grows REPORT

Japan Refuses to Give Greater Access to US farmers: President Trump expressed optimism about reaching a new bilateral trade deal with Japan but areas of tension have surfaced as Prime Minister Abe was not persuaded to lift Japan’s tariffs on US agricultural products. Mr. Abe refused to soften his stance on agriculture ahead of Japan’s Upper House election in July. & COMMODITIES

Argentina Approved to Export Pork to China: The outbreaks of African swine flu in China have led to a plunge in the country’s meat supplies, creating opportunity for foreign meat companies to fill China’s pork gap. In a new deal with China, Argentina will begin exporting pork to the Asian giant, while US pork industry faces heavy tariffs in China.

SEE ALSO: Canada Farm Minister Informed the China has Blocked Two Canadian Pork Exporters

DowDuPont Down: DowDuPont Inc reported a 28 percent fall in adjusted quarterly profit. DowDuPont is now in the process of splitting into three separate business units - Dow, DuPont, and Corteva Agriscience. DowDuPont said that floods in the American Midwest had limited its ability to deliver products to customers, while delaying pre-season applications. EVENTS

From the Roots: Connecting Culture, Food, and Purpose
Date: May 7
Location: Chicago, IL
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

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 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.