This week we're serving up an amuse-bouche mini-edition of Global Food for Thought. If you're missing our usual version, have no fear--we'll be back next week with a full serving of the week's top stories in food, agriculture, and global development. Until then, please share any suggestions you may have on what we can do better. If you would like to have the Global Food for Thought news brief delivered to your inbox, please sign up here.
Farmers in India have blocked train tracks and highways across the country in protest of recent agricultural reform bills. The nation’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party pushed three farm bills through parliament to deregulate the trade in agricultural commodities. Coalition partners and opposition parties both unsuccessfully called for greater scrutiny of the legislation, which replaces socialist-era rules that required farmers to sell their crops to licensed middlemen at government market yards. While Prime Minister Modi insists the freer trade will allow farmers to earn higher prices by dealing with a greater number of potential buyers, farmers fear deregulation will leave them vulnerable to powerful corporate interests and in an even weaker negotiating position than with traditional traders.
PHOTO OF THE WEEK
Join the Chicago Council, Catholic Relief Services, and the Colorado State University System for a World Food Prize side session on scaling actions for systems change.
Scaling Up to Systems Change: The Chicago Council co-hosted a successful soil health panel at the AGRF 2020 Virtual Forum in early September. Inspired by our issue brief Considering a Soil Initiative for Africa, the panel featured key voices from agricultural research across the African continent. Building on this momentum, we are co-hosting a side session at the World Food Prize 2020 Borlaug Dialogue on Thursday, October 15 at 7 am CT. The session examines how to scale an initiative to achieve systems-level change, featuring perspectives from researchers, implementers, and the donor community, with opening remarks from 2020 Laureate Dr. Rattan Lal. The event will be held via Microsoft Teams, with no pre-registration necessary. Simply click this link at 7 am CT on October 15, and you will be connected to the panel!
UPCOMING COUNCIL EVENTS
LIVE STREAM: Decoupling or Recoupling US-China Relations
Date: October 7
Time: 6:30 p.m. CT
Scaling Soils Restoration: A Roadmap to Action
Date: October 15
Time: 7 a.m. CT
VIRTUAL: 2020 Global Leadership Awards
Date: October 28
Time: 5 p.m. CT
Did you miss one of our previous livestreams? Don't worry! They are all available on our website to watch at any time.
FOOD AND AGRICULTURAL ISSUES
Big Gains from Small Grains: To fight food insecurity in the light of extreme draughts in Zimababwe, organizations have encouraged farmers to start growing drought resistant crops. Not only are those crops monetarily beneficial, they are creating more space for women in farming. Those small grains like sorghum and finger millet are highly available and have the potential to contribute towards the food security of many of the world's poorest and most food-insecure agro-ecological zones.
Finding Food with AI in West Africa: Herders in West Africa's Sahel region are using AI and tele-detection to find food for livestock and navigate droughts, heatwaves, bushfires, and even Covid-19. Created by the nonprofit Action Against Hunger with support from the World Bank, the Pastoral Early Warning System (PEWS) uses a combination of satellite information and survey data to aid remote pastoralists in Sahel's biogeographic region. PEWS provides updates via radio, SMS, and local bulletins for over 52,000 people on topics such as grazing areas and disease outbreaks.
Mold + Virus = Thriving Plants: Sclerotinia sclerotiorum, also known as “white mold,” is a fungus deadly to about 400 plants, including soybeans. Researchers have discovered that a virus not only neutralizes the fungus, but actually turns it into a beneficial protection against other plant infections. This discovery could save farmers fungicide costs and spare them the hundreds of millions of dollars in damage that white mold infection can cause.
Going Big on Little Bugs: The UK government is investing £10m in the construction of the country’s first industrial-scale insect farm to produce more sustainable animal food for big livestock suppliers. The Insect protein market could be worth as much as $8bn by 2030 as the global population increased, requiring protein sources with a smaller environmental footprint. Insects are estimated to be 300 times per square meter more efficient in terms of protein output than soy, which is the second-biggest cause of deforestation.
TRADE & COMMODITIES
A Chain of Weak Links: Widespread gasoline scarcity is preventing farmers from getting their products to consumers, worsening Venezuela’s food crisis. The nation is currently experiencing the world’s fourth worst food crisis, according to a recent UN report. With the domestic food supply chain weakened, the nation has turned to food imports. Sanctions on the nation’s oil sector have dramatically reduced the nation’s export income and ability to procure gasoline, further threatening Venezuela’s food supply.
OTHER UPCOMING EVENTS
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