April 26, 2019

Global Food for Thought: Unbreaking Fever | James Beard | WTO Decision

If you would like to have the Global Food for Thought news brief delivered to your inbox, please sign up here.

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.

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

An Unbreaking Fever

African swine fever, which is fatal to pigs but does not harm humans, continues to sweep across China. More than a million pigs have been culled and meat markets world wide are feeling the shortage. But the outbreak may be even more severe than official reports—farmers have said in interviews that they have not reported infections in their herds to local authorities. Therefore, it is possible that the highly contagious disease is infecting more pigs in more locations than the Chinese officials have acknowledged. China is the world’s largest producer of pork.

SEE ALSO: Swine Fever Will Hurt Brazil Soy Exports

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

African swine fever, for which no treatment or vaccine exists, has spread to every Chinese province and region, and has also jumped the border into Cambodia, Mongolia and Vietnam. (REUTERS/Kacper Pempel)

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

Cameroon Seedling Company: In an attempt to boost the agricultural sector and scale up production, the Cameroon government has created a high-tech industrial tree nursery accompanied with a distribution system. It has been estimated that the nursery and distribution system will produce approximately 50 million high-performance tree seedlings per year and create around 3,000 jobs in the supply chain.

More Food Assistance Would Help Ebola Fight: Increasing food assistance in Ebola-struck regions of the Democratic Republic of Congo could help stop the spread of the second-biggest outbreak. Prior to the recent Ebola outbreak, 15 percent of population—13 million people—did not have enough to eat. According to the WFP’s country director, food assistance would make people more willing to cooperate in registration, vaccination, and treatment as public distrust is a major obstacle in stopping the epidemic

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

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

India’s Elections and Farmers: As the world's largest democracy votes, hundreds of millions of India’s farmers will have the chance to express their frustration at the ballot box. Several years of drought left farmers with big losses and the years when harvests were plentiful, the government would not buy their crops at prices high enough to ensure a profit. Farmers have voiced their concerns to the current Prime Minister up for reelection, yet for many, things have only worsened.

Opinion - Food & Fuel: In order to defuse tensions between human development and the environment, the environmental movement must address two fundamental issues. The first being the human quest for food, nearly a quarter of the world’s annual greenhouse gas emissions are linked to agriculture. The second issue being the human quest for fuel, the majority of global greenhouse gas emissions arise from burning fossil fuels.

Chinese Soil: With nearly a fifth of China’s farmland exposed to various degrees of contamination, soil pollution has emerged as one of the country’s biggest environmental challenges. The agriculture ministry has urged local authorities to invest more in cleaning up the contaminated land. The biggest barrier to the clean-up plans has been figuring out how to pay for a nation-wide treatment program that could cost hundreds of billions of dollars.

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

The Dirt on Dirt: Agriculture depends on soil health, but the UN has warned that soils across the globe are increasingly depleted. Conservation movements are now advocating soil regeneration through “no plough” techniques that keep the ground covered with crops all year long and minimize run off of top soil. Supports say that the technique, while requiring more planning, reduces labor and fertilizer costs and increases drought tolerance.

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

Hunger Watch: According to the National Drought Management Authority, seven countries have been added to the hunger watch list, raising the total number of countries on the list to 20. While only four of the 20 countries have been labeled, "alarm drought stage,” that number could quickly increase if dry conditions and high temperatures continue to increase and intensify.


Priorities in Kenya: Governments in Kenya have hoped that agriculture would thrive under devolution, yet it has left the country badly exposed to food shocks. Poor allocation of funds for agriculture, misplaced priorities, and lack of coordination from the government has pushed Kenya into a food crisis. Agriculture in most counties was allocated less than 20 percent of the development expenditure in the first half of the 2018/19 financial year.

Shortage Hits Cuba, Raising Fear of New Crisis: As aid from Venezuela has halved after the collapse of its economy, food and medicine shortages have once again became a serious daily problem for millions of Cubans. Stores are struggling to routinely stock basic foods. With the agricultural sector underperforming, the country needs to reply on imports to meet domestic food demands.

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

How AI Can Enable a Sustainable Future: A new report from the consultancy PwC looks into the potential of using AI for environmental applications in four sectors—agriculture, water, energy, and transportation. The report predicts that between today and 2030, AI adoption in these sectors could boost global GDP by up to 4.4 percent while also reducing GHG emissions by up to 4.0 percent.

Paths to Food Security: As a global community, we can satisfy the demand for water and food for years to come, even with the projected growth of our population—but only if we coordinate effectively. Roger Bain of PYXERA Global, writing on the sobering theme of the Global Food Security Symposium 2019, says that the consequences of inefficient land and water use are already manifesting, and we must act now to correct our course.

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

US Wins WTO Case against China over Grain Exports: The WTO has ruled in favor of the US claim that China did not fairly administer its tariff-rate quotas on US wheat, rice, and corn. This was the second US victory this year over agricultural trade dispute with China, after WTO found in February that China over subsidized its grain producers.

SEE ALSO: Top US Officials to Hold Trade Talks in China Next Week

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

Trade Potential: Argentina is expecting an increase in their soybean harvest, estimated around 48 percent more than the previous year. These projections have led Argentina to push for increased agricultural trade with China. China is the world’s biggest international buyer of soybeans, which are used to feed the world’s largest pig herd.

Green Gold: The Tanzanian Horticultural Association (Taha) is looking to export avocadoes to China, as demand has grown tremendously in the last few years. Producers have never been able to access the Chinese market, due to lack of bilateral arrangements between the two countries. Taha has been working tirelessly with the Chinese to be granted access to the market.

SEE ALSO: Tanzania Denies Blocking Release of Scathing IMF Report

Coffee Price Plunge: Even as global coffee consumption is on the rise, massive production and the currency depreciation in the world’s largest coffee producer, Brazil, have driven the world price of coffee beans down to a lowest point in 13 years. Some farmers may need to curtail their spending if future prices fall below $1 a pound. Colombia has increased emergency aid to its coffee farmers.

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

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.