October 11, 2019

Global Food for Thought: Rural Girls | Avian Flu | Drought

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International Day of the Girl:

October 11 is International Day of the Girl Child, which was established by the United Nations in 2012. Girls Leading: From Rural Economies to Global Solutions—available as both a fully online digital experience and as a PDF—is a collection of diverse views and perspective from 20 authors around the world which highlights the power and potential of girls. Led by Catherine Bertini, this project continues the work begun in 2009 on the Council's Girls in Rural Economies project, providing an update on the progress made since the 2011 release of Girls Grow: A Vital Force in Rural Economies

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

A nomad girl runs while grazing her family's goats and sheep on the outskirts of Peshwar, Pakistan. (REUTERS/Fayaz Aziz)

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

Banana Defense: FAO has launched an emergency program to help protect Latin American banana crops from fusarium. The fungus can cause 100 percent crop loss, which would have devastating results for the region. FAO is providing technical support to prevent the spread of the disease, such as increasing biodiversity and encouraging supportive policy environments.

Emergency Pork: China is drawing on a national pork reserve to help mitigate the market effects of African swine fever, which have been exacerbated by US-China trade relations. The reserve was created in the 1970s to help combat price swings. The total amount of reserve pork is a state secret, but has been estimated at 200,000 tons.  


Planetary Health: Several scientific and multilateral reports were released this year urging immediate individual and collective action to shift natural resource management on a global scale. The Council will be hosting Esther Ngumbi, Tatiana Schlossberg, and Ertharin Cousin in a discussion of planetary health on October 23, to discuss the impact individuals' actions. They hope to answer the question, what can we do, and does it matter?  


Tuna In Trouble: A new study finds that, despite a persistent lack of data, the amount of tuna removed from the oceans has increased by 1000 percent in the last 60 years. The study focused on industrial fishing of tuna, which now covers between 55 to 90 percent of global oceans.

Farmers on the Edge of Crisis:  Nambia’s state of emergency due to drought has been extended, along with a comprehensive drought relief program for farmers. Farmers have begun feeding cattle shredded tree branches to cope with lack of fodder, which has raised concerns about deforestation.
SEE ALSO: Drought Pushes Zimbabwe to the Brink

Bad News for Foie Gras? The World Organization for Animal Health has reported that mild bird flu virus has been detected on a duck farm in France. Infected birds are to be culled, and detection occurred as part of planned surveillance.

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

How many bird flus are there? All bird flu viruses are influenza Type A viruses, which are further classified as either low or high pathogenic. Low pathogenic strains can cause mild symptoms or go entirely undetected. High pathogenic strains, like H5N1, can cause high numbers of fatality. Subtypes within influenza A viruses are based on two proteins on the surface of the virus—which could, theoretically, be combined in almost 150 ways.   

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

Blockchain Meets Crop Chains: Several companies are joining forces to bring blockchain to agriculture. Introducing the technology into farming could result in more traceable, efficient, and equitable supply chains. The adoption of blockchain will also accelerate digitization of the field. 


Nature battles floods: Citizens of Gorakhpur, India are using adaptive agricultural techniques to combat annual flooding of the city. By rotating multiple crops per year and reducing chemical fertilizers, farmers have prevented harmful water run-off from ruining soil and forming swamps.

Green Autumn: FAO Director General Qu Dongyu highlighted the importance of green agriculture for climate resilience at the Golden Autumn Exhibition in Moscow. Digitization will play a critical role in transforming the production of food towards sustainable methods, as well as reducing food loss and waste.


Beef in Space: A cultured meat company has successfully grown bovine cells in space. It hopes that cultured meat could be a future food source for astronauts, as the process does not require the land or water resources necessary for producing beef.

Carbon Sequestration Through Agriculture: Researchers at Indigo Agriculture announced that farmers have submitted over 10 million acres of farmland to its Terraton Initiative. The program hopes to employ regenerative farming techniques to harness the potential of soil to draw down atmospheric carbon dioxide. Growers who sign up could be eligible to receive at least $15 per metric ton sequestered in their soils.  


USAID Signs Aid Agreement With Venezuela: At an event on Tuesday, USAID Administrator Mark Green signed a bilateral agreement providing $98 million in development assistance to Venezuela. The action formalizes the US partnership with Juan Guaidó. The funds will assist with ongoing development organizations along with new projects focused on increasing food security and much needed agricultural resources.

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

Soy on the Rise: Chinese buyers bought more than 1.5 million metric tons of US soybeans in the last week of September, a move which fueled optimism over recently resumed trade talks. The past two months have seen the highest soybean sales to China since January 2018.

Promise in the Pacific: The United States and Japan have signed a limited trade deal. The pact will eliminate Japanese tariffs on US food and agricultural imports. This restores market access at levels that match the TPP agreement from which the United States pulled out in 2017

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

US-Africa Forum on Agricultural Technology
Date: October 15
Location: Des Moines, Iowa

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

A Healthy People and Planet: From Action to Change
Date: October 23
Location: Chicago, Illinois

Smart Urban Food Systems Summit
Date: November 4-5
Location: Brooklyn, New York

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.