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UN General Assembly Brings New Commitments to Agriculture:
The UN General Assembly’s Climate Action Summit saw two major new pledges for funding agriculture. More than $650 million was pledged to the international agricultural research system CGIAR to help 300 million smallholder farmers adapt to climate change. The African Development Bank pledged to increase funding for climate change adaptation by $12.5 billion, including supporting the continent’s smallholder farmers.
PHOTO OF THE WEEK
Pigs are seen at a farm outside Hanoi, Vietnam. (REUTERS/Kham)
Youth in Revolt: Young people took to the streets across the world to protest climate change ahead of the UN Climate Action Summit. Demonstrations occurred on every continent, and organizers estimated total turnout around four million.
Scaling Up Resilience: The Netherlands donated $28 million to support an FAO program aimed at increasing the resilience of food systems in protracted crises in Somalia, Sudan, and South Sudan. The goal of the program is to demonstrate the feasibility of and scale up long-term development intervention, rather than the usual focus on meeting immediate and urgent needs.
Reimagining Global Health Equity: Agnes Binagwaho is coming to the Council to discuss her work rebuilding Rwanda’s health system in the wake of the 1994 genocide. By prioritizing investments in public health and social welfare, Binagwaho worked to create an equitable system for all Rwandans. She will speak on lessons we can learn from Rwanda, in order to bring health equity to more nations.
FOOD AND AGRICULTURAL ISSUES
The Fever Spreads: African swine fever continues to spread through Asian countries, with indications that its reach has arrived at South Korea’s border. The disease, to which there is yet a cure or vaccine, first arrived on the continent a little over a year ago and is particularly harmful to small farms—like those that make up 60 percent of the Philippines pork industry—that lack expertise or resources to protect their livestock.
Opinion – Leapfrogging into the Future: There is significant evidence to suggest that Agnes Kalibata, President of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Agriculture (AGRA), was correct in stating that the African continent is “leapfrogging into the future” at the African Green Revolution Forum. Many nations in attendance have committed to agriculture as a central feature of their development policy.
Improving on Nature: Researchers in Australia are working in cooperation with scientists and universities across the world to improve the photosynthesis efficiency of crops. Crop physiologists believe that a 5 percent improvement in efficiency could result in 20 percent higher yields. One project hopes to have a more photo-efficient variety of rice field ready by 2030.
How does anaerobic digestion work? This is the natural process of microorganisms breaking down organic materials, such as food and animal waste. Anaerobic digestion occurs in the absence of oxygen. The process generates biogas, which can be used for natural gas, and a nutrient-rich liquid called digestate. Digestate can be used as a fertilizer for crops, transforming food waste into future meals as well as fuel.
The Next Pig Thing: Chinese technology companies such as NetEase and Alibaba are turning their attention to pig farming. Companies are using technologies such as artificial intelligence and facial and voice recognition to improve efficiency and reduce costs. This could help the nation’s pork industry, currently facing a shortage due to African Swine Fever.
Farmers Change Their Ways: From California to Kenya, farmers are rushing to adapt to climate change. California pistachio growers are searching for trees designed for warm winters, which are currently threatening the billion-dollar industry. Kenyan herders are choosing camels over cattle, and Costa Rican farmers are switching from traditional coffee to oranges.
A New Farmers’ Market: A new carbon market could help farmers generate credits worth almost $14 billion, estimates a recent report. Improved farming methods that capture carbon or reduce water pollution would earn farmers carbon credits that they could sell to industrial corporations that would be required to meet environmental goals, a setup that would unlock a significant revenue stream for participants.
A Different Kind of Wall: The FAO’s Director-General Qu Dongyu announced the Great Green Wall for Cities initiative, aimed at creating nature-based solutions to climate change. The program would support cities in 30 countries through Africa and Asia and see the creation of 500,000 hectares of new urban forests while restoring up to 300,000 hectares of existing forests.
Waste Not: Bubbly Dynamics, a Chicago based company, is one of several in the city attempting to transform the food production system into a circular economy model. The company uses an anaerobic digester to decompose waste into useful compost, thereby creating a closed-loop system that can reduce waste while contributing to local gardens.
US - Japan Deal: At the United Nations General Assembly, President Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe reached a trade agreement. Japan has agreed to limit tariffs on beef, pork, and other commodities. This agreement could provide economic relief to farmers suffering under President Trump’s trade war with China. The administration hopes this is the first phase of a more comprehensive agreement with Tokyo. The new agreement will take effect once it is ratified by Japanese legislature.
TRADE & COMMODITIES
Pricey Protein: Global pork prices are on the rise as China, the world’s largest consumer of pork, has expanded its pork imports in response to the fall in local supply caused by African Swine Flu. Meat suppliers in South America and Europe have ramped up their sales to China, while US companies, subject to restrictions set by the US-China trade war, are yet to benefit.
Wheat Quota: Brazil has announced plans to implement a 750,000-ton tariff-free quota for wheat imports from non-Mercosur nations. The ministry of agriculture hopes that the move will open Brazil to new suppliers, including Russia and the US.
Agnes Binagwaho on Reimagining Global Health Equity in Rwanda
Date: October 3
Location: Chicago, Illinois
Global Science Conference on Climate-Smart Agriculture
Date: October 8-10
Location: Bali, Indonesia
US-Africa Forum on Agricultural Technology
Date: October 15
Location: Des Moines, Iowa
Borlaug Dialogue International Symposium
Date: October 16-18
Location: Des Moines, Iowa
CGIAR Big Data in Agriculture Convention
Date: October 16-18
Location: Hyderabad, India
Smart Urban Food Systems Summit
Date: November 4-5
Location: Brooklyn, New York
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