February 8, 2019

Global Food for Thought: Water for Nutrition, Caterpillar Invasion, Teff Battles

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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

Major Donors Pioneer $25 Million Initiative to Sustainably Lift Families Out of Poverty
The new four-year initiative aims to create new solutions and support social and economic mobility. Known as Mobility Learning and Action Bets, or Mobility LABs, the program will identify models developed in New York City that can be replicated in other communities. Mobility LABs was announced at Robin Hood’s conference, No City Limits: Reimagining the Poverty Fight 2019 and will be funded by Robin Hood, the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, Tipping Point Community, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, among others.

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

One of the greatest challenges of our time is how to advance a more sustainable, resilient, and inclusive global food system in the face of this increasing water scarcity.

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

The UN in Yemen: The United Nations Development Programme is tackling food insecurity in Yemen by teaching women to run their own small businesses with energy generated by solar panels. Around 200 women have gained economic independence through this program. Their new income has made food and other household necessities more accessible.
SEE ALSO: EU Provides Millions in Funding for FAO-Led Efforts to Strengthen Yemen’s Capacity to Monitor Drivers of Food Insecurity and Hunger

Sustaining Nigeria: The FAO in partnership with Samaritan Care & Support Initiative has provided agricultural inputs to 3,600 farmers, most of whom are women. This was done in an effort to boost agricultural production while simultaneously achieving food security and combating hunger in Nigeria.

Tanzania Takes Off: One Acre Fund says that they aim to reach at least 100,000 farmers in Tanzania within the year. The main goal is to support smallholder farmers through credits in the form of agricultural inputs. Along with these inputs they will train farmers to improve productivity.

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

A New Series Explores the Challenges of Nourishing a Rapidly Growing Population in the Face of Water Scarcity

The world is running out of water to feed—and nourish—a rapidly growing global population. The Chicago Council on Global Affairs is pleased to launch a new blog series, Uncharted Waters, that will explore the obstacles and possible solutions to one of the world’s most pressing crises.

Failure to treat water as a strategic, valuable, and limited resource is a direct threat to the global economy; the health of our planet; and the well-being of both current and future generations of humanity. In this week’s edition, Vanessa Taylor examines the major challenges facing water resources in the 21stcentury.

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

Caterpillar Invasion: After infesting crops in Africa and Thailand, the fall armyworm now has been confirmed in China, the world’s second-largest producer of maize. Originating in Americas, the fall armyworm signals an increasing risk to agriculture from invasive species as international trade grows.

Cash Payments to Indian Farmers: The Indian government announced new measures to boost farmers’ incomes by promising tax cuts and $10.7 billion direct cash transfers to small farmers. The new program could be a prelude to implementing universal basic income plans.
SEE ALSO: Opinion – India Can Hide Unemployment Data, but Not the Truth

Polish Beef: Countries are beginning to limit imports of beef from Poland after a documentary documented sick cows being processed for consumption. Nearly 85 percent of Poland’s beef products are exported each year. Polish government officials deny that any sick animals were slaughtered for meat and investigators from the European Union have begun a week-long inspection. No country has cancelled imports.
SEE ALSO: Poland Detects Mad Cow Disease on Farm

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

Indian Government to Conduct Farmer Survey: A pan-Indian survey will be conducted to asses farmers’ income and debt levels, among other issues. The survey will seek to asses the current status of agricultural households and their expenditures, in order to evaluate the plight of the nation’s farmers. The last such survey was conducted in 2012-2013.

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

Opinion - Global Health Improves, but Could Be Better: Public health campaigns have shown amazing progress: global poverty is decreasing, half as many women are dying at childbirth, and life expectancy is increasing in every country. However, urgent priorities remain in infectious disease prevention and treatment, improving health systems, and investing in girls’ education.


Fever in Japan: Swine fever, a disease that recently threatened China, has now appeared in Japan. An agriculture official claims that this strain of the swine fever is different from the one China is dealing with. Reports show that approximately 15,000 pigs were infected and culled.

Tigray Resilience: Ethiopia’s mountainous village, Tigray, was once known for famine but is now showing signs of durability, sustainability, and toughness. Wells that used to not flow are now plentiful with water, allowing farmers to sell fruit and vegetables and generate income. The main drivers of resilience are improved infrastructure and government programs focused on rehabilitation.

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

Sargassum Seaweed Fertilizer: Since 2011, an increase in sargassum seaweed has devastated the Caribbean by killing marine life and covering beaches. A Saint Lucian biotech company, Algas Organics, converts the algae into an organic compost for the farming industry. The organic fertilizer improves crop performance, promotes crop resilience, and enhances opportunity for food security.

Ethiopia Get’s Its Grain Back: Until recently, a Dutch agronomist held the patent for processing teff flour into most anything—including Ethiopia’s traditional pancake-like bread, injera. A failed 2005 venture between a Dutch company and the Ethiopian Institute of Biodiversity Conservation was supposed to lead to a market for teff goods in Europe, but even after the company collapsed Ethiopia was squeezed out of Europe or elsewhere where the patents were recognized. A recent court decision means that Ethiopia can now market teff in the Netherlands, but the patents remain in force in many other European countries.

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

Trump Taps Malpass for World Bank Presidency: David Malpass serves as the current Under Secretary of the Treasury for International Affairs, where he supported a capital increase at the World Bank. Despite different stakeholders raising concerns about his viewpoints, it is unlikely any country will challenge his appointment. Malpass is known for criticizing the bank’s lending to China and says that he intends to follow through on a 2018 World Bank plan to reduce China’s borrowing.

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

China Soybean Purchase Plan: China’s committed purchase of 5 million metric tons of US soybeans has moved the United States and China closer to settling their trade dispute, but it will not ease US stockpiles. Leaders of both countries are facing increasing pressure to resolve the dispute quickly.

Buffalo Meat Blow: India’s buffalo meat industry has taken a hit after China launched a campaign to alleviate food smuggling. China, the world’s top meat consumer, is concerned that the the Indian buffalo meat could be contaminated with foot and mouth disease. India’s exports of buffalo meat are expected to plummet 15 percent.

Food Prices Rise: The FAO food price index, which measures monthly changes for food staples such as cereals, oilseeds, dairy products, and more, increased in January due to stronger prices for vegetable oils and sugar. Even with the increase, prices are still 2.2 percent lower than the January 2018 levels.

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
Land and Poverty Conference 2019: Catalyzing Innovation
Date: March 25-29
Location: Washington, DC
FAO/WHO/WTO International Forum on Food Safety and Trade
Date: April 23-24
Location: Geneva, Switzerland
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.


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.