January 17, 2019

Global Food for Thought: From Scarcity to Security, Lancet Report, Cotton on the Moon


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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.

https://engage.thechicagocouncil.org/l/557772/2018-09-21/5xdymt/557772/224304/quote2.pngTOP STORY

New Lancet Report Considers Sustainable Food Systems
A team of international scientists have come together in a new EAT-Lancet joint report to recommend a new “planetary health diet” that is flexible and considers the ecological impact of food production. In general, the diet encourages whole grains, beans, fruits and many vegetables, with limits on sugars, refined grains. The report’s authors argue that many regions—particularly wealthier countries—must limit the amount of animal products consumed in order to manage global resources efficiently.

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

An insect collects nectar from a sunflower. (Reuters/Arnd Wiegmann)

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

Transitions in Nigeria: A project in Nigeria aimed at promoting transitions from subsistence farming to agribusiness has acquired a $200 million grant under the World Bank-assisted Agro Processing Productivity Enhancement and Livelihood Support project. The program will focus on five main components including production and productivity enhancement, primary processing, value addition, post-harvest management, and women/youth empowerment.

Security of Food: The United Nations has authorized a mission to monitor the cease-fire in Yemen’s port of Hodeida. The port receives 70 percent of food and humanitarian aid to Yemen and is critical for mitigating the current crisis. The United Nations hopes to access approximately 51,000 metric tons of food commodities in Hodeida before it spoils.

https://engage.thechicagocouncil.org/l/557772/2018-10-01/5xkyvw/557772/226010/insights_icon.pngCOUNCIL INSIGHTS

Registration Opens for Global Food Security Symposium 2019: 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 the Global Food Security Symposium on March 20-21, 2019 in Washington, DC. Register now for early bird rates!

https://engage.thechicagocouncil.org/l/557772/2018-10-01/5xkywr/557772/226026/grow_Icon.pngFOOD AND AGRICULTURAL ISSUES

Shrinking Glaciers Impact Irrigation: Climate change is shrinking glaciers across the globe, from central Asia to the Rocky Mountains. Glaciers play a key role in the amount of available water for crops and people. When flows in these rivers decreases, the area’s farmers could reach a crisis.  

Bees Protect Crops from Disease: Commercially reared bees are used by a Toronto-based startup to protect agricultural crops from a host of common diseases such as botrytis and gray mold. This new method of natural disease management has shown positive effects on reducing disease-incidence level in initial tests. 

Cotton on the Moon: After making the first-ever soft landing on the far side of the moon, China has pioneered the first seed germination experiment on the moon, suggesting the future potential of harvesting food in space. In a mini biosphere carried by the Chang’e-4 probe, a small cotton shoot is growing and reaching out of a latticed container.

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

Water Shortage: A water crisis can be caused by nature, human mismanagement, or a combination of both. Increasing global populations and shifting climates are poised to increase the challenges of water stress. One year ago, Cape Town, South Africa was poised to become the first major city to run out of water due to climate change. Since December the city has seen relaxed restrictions on use, but officials remain cautious as reservoirs depend on rainfall levels.

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

Irrigation in Africa: Food production in many African countries still depends on rain-fed agriculture, which can leave farmers vulnerable to erratic weather patterns and climate conditions. A new report from the Malabo Montpellier Panel titled “Water-Wise: Smart Irrigation Strategies for Africa” analyses best practices from Kenya, Ethiopia, Mali, Morocco, Niger, and South Africa and found that irrigating crops can double rain-fed yields.


Heat Stroke: Mass fish deaths have been increasing due to effects of climate change and rising temperatures around the world. In the later months of 2018, El Salvador and the United Kingdom saw hundreds of thousands of fish deaths due to increased heat. The most recent mass deaths have been in Brazil and Australia, with governments warning of many more to come.

Ancient Grain, New Solution: Fonio, a drought-resistant, fast-growing plant has the potential to generate much needed income in West Africa. It is predicted that fonio will help ease hunger linked to climate change. Many farmers hope to make this small, nutty grain a staple across the world.

Silicon in the Desert: Limited trade with neighbors and an arid climate pushed Israel to rely on agricultural technology innovation in order to feed its growing population. The heritage of collective farms and government continuous supports also contributed to the stunning rise of agritech firms in the past 5 years.

https://engage.thechicagocouncil.org/l/557772/2018-10-01/5xkzwh/557772/226054/big_ideas.pngBIG IDEAS

Self-Driving China: The Chinese government is pushing business firms to develop driverless farm equipment capable of planting, fertilizing and harvesting crops within the next 7 years. With varied terrain and a multitude of small farms, Chinas road to automation will be a long process and expensive. Chinese officials have said the shift to automation is key for the farming sector.

A Side of Insects: Insects are a sustainable and a cheap source of protein that could feed our growing world. They emit fewer greenhouse gases and less ammonia than other livestock and require much less land and water. But scientists warn that the farming of insects could create more problems than it solves, therefore future research will be essential before mass production.

https://engage.thechicagocouncil.org/l/557772/2018-10-01/5xkzwt/557772/226058/dc_icon.pngDC REPORT

Policy Roadmap from CSIS: A new report from the Center for Strategic International Studies highlights the strong bipartisan support for American leadership in global food and nutrition security. Policy makers should continue to champion the issue, and include food and nutrition security in national security discussions, humanitarian development strategies, and science and technology investments.

Protecting Girls’ Access to Education: A new law signed by President Trump will strengthen protections for vulnerable girls’ education access across the globe. Almost 4 million displaced children lack access to primary education. The Protecting Girls’ Access to Education in Vulnerable Setting Act directs USAID and the State Department to advance programs that provide safe primary and secondary education for displaced children.

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

A Pig Problem: 916,000 pigs have been killed due to African swine fever. Approximately 100 outbreaks of the highly contagious disease have been reported, making it the world’s fastest spreading epidemic of the fever. Pork prices are expected to rise as result.
SEE ALSO: In hopes of protecting the European pork industry, the European Union has permitted wild boar hunts across the nation’s countryside. African swine fever is spreading in eastern Poland, and infected boars pose a major danger to domesticated pigs.

US and EU Trade Talks: The Trump administration has declared the elimination of trade barriers on US agricultural products as a top priority in the upcoming trade negotiations with EU representatives. The EU side, however, is seeking to limit discussions on agriculture and find wiggle room to appease US demand by pledging to buy more American soybeans. 

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

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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.