May 31, 2019

Global Food for Thought: World Hunger Day | Water Sustainability | Plasticulture

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From Scarcity to Security: Managing Water for a Nutritious Food Future STORY

May 28 Was World Hunger Day – Why is Malnutrition Still So Common?

Nearly 149 million children across the globe are impacted by stunted growth, and hunger is now thought to be on the rise after decades of decreases. Many solutions to hunger are considered inexpensive, while the economic impacts of hunger are huge—malnutrition is thought to cost the global economy nearly $3.5 trillion per year. Despite the human and economic costs to hunger however, many governments still do not prioritize nutrition. OF THE WEEK

Varieties of quinoa, an Andean nutrient-rich grain, are tagged by a farmer during the Mistura gastronomic fair in Lima. (REUTERS/Enrique Castro-Mendivil)​​​​​​ ACTORS 

Where Tilling the Soil Once Meant Shame, Millennials Change the Narrative: When agriculture is still for subsistence, farming is a synonym for poverty. While holding about 65 percent of uncultivated arable land, African still imports over 35 billion in food every year. A growing number of young, college-educated Africans are looking to make farming profitable and ‘sexy’ by applying scientific approaches and data-crunching apps. INSIGHTS

REGISTER NOW: Water and Sustainability – The Conversation Continues in Chicago
By 2050, over 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? The release of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs’ new report From Scarcity to Security: Managing Water for a Nutritious Food Future highlighted the critical nature of this issue, the obstacles to be resolved, and the innovative solutions that will help us achieve water- and food-security.

Register today to hear from some of these thought leaders and innovators in this rapid-fire flashtalk series program! AND AGRICULTURAL ISSUES

Kenyan Farmers Told Not to Use Certain Weed Killers: Kenyan agronomists and coffee marketing agents have raised concerns over the use of Roundup, a herbicide produced by the Monsanto Company. While the spray is suspected by some to cause cancer in humans, many farmers still keep using Roundup and assert that it is safe and effective.
SEE ALSO: The Shifting Reputation of Glyphosate, AKA Roundup
In South Africa, an Update on a Stubborn Disease: South Africa’s Department of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries has declared an end to the outbreak of food and mouth disease. The region is in high surveillance after the disease first detected in South Africa’s Limpopo province in January, but there has not been any new case detected since February.
Feeding the World With Plastic: Plasticulture is an agricultural practice that puts plastic mulch film over the soil to keep it within a steady temperature range and uses drip tape to prevent water loss to evaporation. It may serve as a solution to improve water efficiency and increase crop yield, but could increase agricultural plastic waste. DIVE

Getting a Handle on Foot and Mouth Disease: Foot and mouth disease (FMD) is a highly contagious viral disease that affects many species of livestock, such as cows, pigs, sheep, and goats. While FMD does not affect humans, either directly or in contaminated meat products, it does cause significant economic losses as infected animals are weakened and less productive. Outbreaks of FMD often stop international trade until the disease is contained. CRUNCH

Research Strengthens the Evidence for Biofortified Crops: A new report by Harvest Plus details the growing reach of biofortified crops, with 211 varieties in 30 countries. By the end of 2018, 21 countries across the globe have included biofortification in their national agriculture or nutrition strategies, as the crops offer the promise of minimizing the health effects of micronutrient deficiencies.

The Power of Girls and Women in Global Health: Lauren Moore, vice president of Johnson & Johnson Global Community Impact, says that the private sector has a responsibility to elevate women and girls for global health success. When nearly 70 percent of health workers across the globe are women, it is vital to view women as implementors of good health, not just beneficiaries.

Crop Fires as a Weapon of War: After a wet season, farmers in Iraq and parts of Syria expected a strong harvest season. But for residents of the war-torn region the promise was not to last, as arsonists have set fields ablaze. The fires have been blamed on both defeated ISIL militants and Syrian government forces. The scorched-earth tactic has left thousands of acres in ruin and cost many farmers their livelihoods. IDEAS

Inside the High-Tech World of Microbes For Crops: Considering the environmental downside of chemical fertilizers, Pivot Bio replaces synthetic nitrogen fertilizers. The company uses genome sequencing to produce a microbial product that can reawaken microbes’ natural ability to convert nitrogen from the air to meet crops’ daily nitrogen needs.
Ensuring Adequate Food and Water in a Growing World: Securing Water for Food is a partnership among USAID, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, the Government of South Africa, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. It has received $35 billion investment to support innovations that can help farmers grow more food using less water. REPORT

Summer Talks between Trump and Tokyo: Japan has signed trade agreements with several big agricultural producers, including Australia, Canada, and New Zealand, but tensions over agricultural trade with the United States have been rising. The administration has pledged to wait any trade deal with Japan until after Japan’s parliamentary elections in July and threatening tariffs on Japanese car exports if a deal is not reached in six months.
SEE ALSO: What’s at Stake in US-Japan Trade Talks & COMMODITIES

Big Agribusiness Wants to Make Quinoa Mainstream: After the United Nations declared 2013 as the International Year of Quinoa, exports boomed out of Bolivia and Peru—the two largest producers. Since supply outstripped demand in 2015, prices collapsed and have not yet recovered yet. To remedy this, Ardent Mills, the leading flour supplier in North America, aims to promote use of quinoa as an ingredient in processed food by sponsoring American growers to provide a more reliable supply EVENTS

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.