July 13, 2018

This Week's GFFT News: Breast-Feeding Opposition, Agroforestry with Refugees, and Maternal Mortality


Faltering Farm Incomes Threaten Indian AgricultureChicago Council on Global Affairs, July 11

Over the last six years rising pressure on farm livelihoods has become the newest challenge to Indian agriculture and the agrarian economy. Despite steady increases in total agricultural output, farm incomes have largely failed to keep pace. Today Indian farm policy is caught in a bind. India’s farm income crisis calls for a second Green Revolution—a complete overhaul of agricultural policy aimed at securing livelihoods, improving nutrition security for all, enabling the sustainable movement out of agriculture, and meet the coming challenge of climate change.

Next Generation 2018 – How Can Diplomacy Prevent Food Price Shocks?, Chicago Council on Global Affairs, July 10

It is easy to forget that 10 years has passed since the 2007-08 food price crisis, when over 130 million people were pushed into poverty. In the absence of a full-blown international crisis, concerns linger that agriculture may yet again be slipping as an international priority. However, at a time in which world hunger is on the rise, the world cannot afford another food price shock.

The World’s Eyes Are Watching Columbia’s Orinoquia, Chicago Council on Global Affairs, July 6

For tropical savanna of eastern Colombia, known as Orinoquia, the pristine grasslands that roll to the Amazon rainforest will be the proving grounds of whether we can successfully avoid a collision of our two greatest challenges: produce more food to nourish an ever-growing population, and preserve the planet from the consequences of shifting diets and increasing resource consumption that threaten our environment, climate, and health. Will it succeed? The world is watching.

Four of the World’s Largest Food Companies Have a New Plan for Fixing Food and Farm PolicyWashington Post, July 12

The Sustainable Food Policy Alliance, unveiled by the US divisions of Danone, Mars, Nestle, and Unilever, says it will fight for progressive food policies—from conservation programs to prominent nutrition labels—that have long been eschewed by major food-makers. In doing so, the new alliance is likely to tangle with the mighty and well-moneyed Grocery Manufacturers Association.


UN Aid Chief: 'Too Much Suffering' in N. Korea Despite Progress, Al Jazeera, July 11

The UN humanitarian affairs chief has said North Korea made progress against undernourishment since United Nations' last visit to Pyongyang in 2011, but there was still too much suffering. About 10.6 million people among the country's 25 million population need humanitarian assistance. SEE ALSO: USAID's Business Forecast: Q3 of 2018Devex, July 9

Sustainable Food Systems Needed for Food SecurityFood Tank, July 10

Agricultural engineer Dr. Walter Pengue believes that the current global food system will collapse if our eating habits are not assessed. It is important that all actors, from nations to traders, work together to find practical solutions. SEE REPORT: Scientific and Economic Foundations ReportThe Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity for Agriculture and Food, June 26


Poorest Countries Face Growing Burden from the Cost of Importing FoodFAO, July 10

Food imports are placing an increasing burden on the world's poorest countries. The world food import bill has broadly tripled since 2000 to reach $1.43 trillion in 2017, while it has risen around fivefold for countries that are the most vulnerable to food shortages. SEE ALSO: Food Outlook ReportFAO, July 10

Ex-Foes Ethiopia, Eritrea Eye Peace Dividend after Historic DealReuters, July 9

The announcement of an end to the state of war between Ethiopia and Eritrea was announced by Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. Of perhaps even greater economic significance was an agreement to jointly develop Eritrea’s ports, a development that would give landlocked Ethiopia a vital outlet to the Red Sea. This deal is attracting significant foreign investment into agriculture and horticulture.

Chocolate Is a Luxury. The People Who Produce It Live in Extreme Poverty.Washington Post, July 7

For most people, chocolate is synonymous with indulgence. But for the millions of small-scale farmers producing most of the world’s cocoa, it’s a synonym for poverty. The median income for a cocoa household in the Ivory Coast—the nation that produces more of the world’s cocoa than any other—is just $2,707 per year. Recent research found that just 12 percent of those surveyed earned a living income. SEE RESEARCH: Cocoa Farmer Household Income in Côte d’Ivoire 2018Fairtrade America, June 23


Is the Organic Seal Worth It, Given Disputes on Standards?AP, July 11

Disputes over the rules and questions about adherence to the USDA Organic label may raise doubts about whether the price is justified. Regulators and organic food companies say they’re working to address the challenges posed by the organic industry’s growth and complexity.

Why President Trump Hates Canadian Dairy — And Canada Insists on Protecting It, NPR, July 10

President Trump has railed against Canada for taking advantage of the United States in trade, particularly with respect to the dairy industry. Canada’s tariffs on American dairy—from 241 percent on milk to 300 percent on butter—are a part of a decades-old policy designed to protect Canadian farmers, keep prices stable, and avoid a milk surplus. Canadian industry leaders argue that the tariffs do not affect the international market. SEE ALSO: Should Canada Scrap its Supply Management System? Yes, Opinion, Toronto Star, July 10. SEE ALSO: Someone Should Tell Donald Trump About America’s High Tariffs, Editorial, New York Times, July 10


USDA to Stop Giving Media Early Access to Crop Data under EmbargoReuters, June 10

The USDA will stop giving crop data under embargo to media starting next month in an attempt to make the release of market-moving information fairer. The change means news organizations will gain access to reports on global grain supplies and demand at the same time as the general public.

How Trump's Trade Fight Risks Upending Global Agriculture Flows, Bloomberg, July 4

The US is a key cog in global agriculture trading, and about two-thirds of its farm exports are shipped to nations it’s in trade disputes or talks with. Mexico and the EU have already imposed some trade barriers on American products, and shipments of US soybeans have been redirected away from China. US markets will probably be hardest hit by a trade war, with flows of everything from pork to cotton to grains rerouted around the world. SEE ALSO: There’s Something Fishy about the US’s New $200 Billion Tariff List for ChinaQuartz, July 11


How Artificial Intelligence Could Prevent Natural DisastersWired, July 10

The combination of high-resolution imaging and sensor technologies, AI, and cloud computing is giving conservationists deeper insight into the health of the planet. The result is a near-real-time readout of Earth’s vital signs, firing off alerts and alarms whenever the ailing planet takes a turn for the worse. The new conservation formula may become a critical resource for preventing natural disasters and planning relief.

Alexa Makes Decision-Making Easier Than Ever—by Making Your Choices for YouQuartz, July 10

Voice shopping is predicted to grow to $40 billion in 2022, and its rise will change consumer decision-making drastically. The trend may create incidental loyalty, a phenomenon in which the voice assistant assumes which brand you buy and re-orders the same one over and over again. This limits a consumer’s knowledge of choices and could diminish spending power.

How Postcards Solved the Problem of Disappearing Rice, NPR, July 10

Rice for the Poor was a program set up in Indonesia in order to deliver subsidized rice each month to the country’s most vulnerable households. Many local officials, however, distributed the rice based on personal assessments and whims. Now, Indonesian food leaders are working to implement a postcard program, whereby every eligible citizen is directly informed of their rights to subsidized rice. SEE REPORT: Tangible Information and Citizen Empowerment: Identification Cards and Food Subsidy Programs in Indonesia, Journal of Political Economy, March 7

'World's Largest Vertical Farm' to Feed Middle East's High-FliersCNN Travel, July 10

In the Middle East, water scarcity in the UAE is second only to Kuwait. A joint venture between Crop One Holdings and Emirates Flight Catering will open the world’s largest vertical farm in Dubai that will supply approximately 225,000 meals daily. This upcoming facility will use a mix of renewable and utility source electricity and is targeting solar energy.

Bugs Are Coming Soon to Your Dinner Table, Bloomberg, July 5

Insects, already part of the diets of 2 billion people, mainly in Asia, are set to reach more dining tables as consumer concern about the environmental and social costs of producing beef, pork and poultry overrides the yuck factor of eating bug-filled burger. Using little land and emitting a fraction of the greenhouses gases generated by cattle, that appeal will grow as a surging population stretches scarce global resources.


Coffee and Conservation: Mozambique Tries Both on a MountainAP, July 11

At Mozambique’s Mount Gorongosa, farmers are being encouraged to grow coffee in the shade of trees, both to improve their own lot and to restore the forest. It is part of a bid to convince farmers to abandon old-slash-and-burn methods of farming and commit to the longer-term yield of coffee on the same plots.

Why Mexican Farmers Are Hopeful about López Obrador’s WinOpinion, Timothy A. Wise, Food Tank, July 6

The victory of Andrés Manuel López Obrador and his Morena party in Mexican elections has stunned international observers. Among those rejoicing over López Obrador’s victory are Mexico’s farmers, who have been feel abandoned by the government thanks to unregulated imports of below-cost maize, wheat, pork, and other agricultural goods.

Kenya's Ground-Down Coffee Farmers Switch to Avocado Amid Global Boom, Thomson Reuters Foundation, July 6

Kenyan exports of avocados have climbed from nearly 39,000 tons in 2015 to about 47,000 tons in 2016, worth around 5.2 billion Kenyan shillings ($52 million). Unlike coffee trees, avocado trees require little maintenance. Coffee prices, on the other hand, have dropped from about $2.80 a pound in 2011 to about $1.12 today.

With Refrigerated ATMs, Camel Milk Business Thrives in Kenya, All Africa, July 3

With temperatures averaging 104 degrees Fahrenheit during Kenya’s dry season, camel milk—a vital source of nutrients and calories for Kenyans—spoils easily.  To remedy this, an initiative is equipping about 50 women in northeast Kenya with refrigerators to cool the milk sent by remote camel herders. The women milk traders sell it through four ATM-like vending machines.


Your Doctor May Not be the Best Source of Nutrition Advice, Washington Post, July 10

When Americans hear about a health craze, they may turn to their physician for advice. But a doctor may not be a reliable source. Experts say that while most physicians may recognize that diet is influential in health, they don't learn enough about nutrition in medical school or the training programs that follow.

Air Pollution: Agriculture and Transport Emissions Continue to Pose Problems in Meeting Agreed Limits, European Environment Agency, July 9

Emissions from agriculture and transport continue to pose problems for the European Union in meeting air pollution limits. While emissions of most air pollutants remain on a downward trend, ammonia emissions continued to rise in 2016. Austria, Ireland, Croatia, Germany, and Spain all exceeded their ceilings for emissions of nitrogen compounds.

Drink Up! Most of Us Could Benefit from More Water, New York Times, July 9

The good news is you don’t have to rely entirely on your liquid intake to remain well-hydrated. Studies in societies with limited supplies of drinking water suggest you can help to counter dehydration by consuming nutritious foods that are laden with a hidden water source, such as fruits, vegetables, and seeds.

Opposition to Breast-Feeding Resolution by US Stuns World Health OfficialsNew York Times, July 8

A resolution to encourage breast-feeding at the UN affiliated World Health Assembly was upended by the US delegation who instead embraced the interests of infant formula manufacturers. Health advocates scrambled to find another sponsor for the resolution, but at least a dozen countries, most of them poor nations in Africa and Latin America, backed off, citing fears of retaliation.


World's Fish Consumption Unsustainable, UN WarnsThompson Reuters Foundation, July 9

The FAO warns that a third of the world’s oceans are overfished and fish consumption is at an all-time high, raising fears over the sustainability of a key source of protein for millions around the world. Overfishing is particularly bad in parts of the developing world where many people already struggle to get enough nutritious food to eat. SEE ALSO: The State of the World Fisheries and AquacultureFAO, July 9. SEE ALSO: One in Three Fish Caught Never Makes It to the Plate – UN ReportGuardian, July 9

Syrian Seeds Could Save US Wheat from Climate Menace, Guardian, July 6

Ancient Syrian grass rescued from Aleppo is resistant to pests devastating American farms. In response to the influx of new pests and disease—following hotter and drier weather—American scientists are seeking sources of natural resistance. SEE ALSO: How Seeds from War-Torn Syria Could Help Save American Wheat, Yale Environment 360, May 14

Agroforestry with Refugees in Uganda: Overwhelming Demand and a Huge Desire to Plant¸ Agroforestry World, July 6

Over 1 million South Sudanese are currently seeking refuge in Uganda, putting immense pressure on already fragile ecosystem services such as water flow and soil fertility. Agroforestry models seek to meet the needs of refugees and local inhabitants for tree products, particularly firewood for cooking and poles for shelter.

Iraq Bans Farming Summer Crops as Water Crisis Grows DireAP, July 5

Iraq has banned its farmers from planting summer crops this year, as the country grapples with a crippling water shortage that shows few signs of abating. The country has only enough water to irrigate half its farmland this summer. But farmers fault the government for failing to modernize how it manages water and irrigation, and they blame neighboring Turkey for stopping up the Tigris and Euphrates rivers behind dams.

Surf And Turf: To Reduce Gas Emissions From Cows, Scientists Look To The Ocean, NPR, July 3

Scientists think they can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by tweaking the food that cows eat. Adding seaweed to cattle feed can dramatically decrease their emissions of the potent gas methane. Ninety-five percent of bovine methane emissions come from belching. SEE REPORT: In Vitro Response of Rumen Microbiota to the Antimethanogenic Red Macroalga Asparagopsis taxiformisMicrobial Ecology, October 10


Women Are Key to Fixing the Global Food SystemInter Press Service, July 10

According to the FAO, women make up about 43 percent of the agricultural labor force worldwide, and in some countries, they make up 80 percent of all farmers. If women had the same access to resources as men, they could raise their current yields by 20 to 30 percent. This would lift as many as 150 million people out of hunger.

The 2 Women Entrepreneurs Tackling Maternal Mortality in Nigeria, Devex, July 10

Adepeju Jaiyeoba and Temie Giwa-Tubosun are two Nigerian entrepreneurs working to address maternal mortality. Jaiyeoba created the The Mother’s Delivery Kit which contains a pill used to prevent bleeding, a mucus extractor, and adhesive pads. Tubson created LifeBank which helps hospitals discover essential medical supplies like blood and delivers it to mothers in hospitals.

In Bhutan, Hordes of Young People Are Giving up Rural Life to Move to CitiesQuartz, July 6

With young people less interested in agriculture and eager to embrace education and employment opportunities elsewhere, rural areas in the tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan are slowly emptying out. And the elderly, aged over 65, are being left behind. As of May 2017, out of the 686,697 people who were born in the mountainous nation, nearly half had migrated away from their place of birth.

Why Young Professionals are Taking Up Farming in Thailand, Christian Science Monitor, July 2

In Thailand, dozens of young men and women are turning their backs on cities and returning to rural areas to build a new life in agricultural sectors. A grass-roots network of experienced farmers has developed a community that works to encourage young people who migrated to the cities to return and develop their rural hometowns with innovative farming technologies at a time when Thailand’s rural population is aging.


Understanding How IBM and Others Use Blockchain Technology to Track Global Food Supply ChainForbes, July 11

IBM announced a collaboration with 10 food producers and retailers to highlight the most urgent areas in the global food supply chain. IBM Food Trust uses the blockchain to connect participants through a transparent, permanent, and shared record of food origin details, processing data, shipping details, and more.

Global Trade War to Be a Boon for Black Sea GrainReuters, June 10

Trade conflict between the United States and China could further boost already booming grain and oilseed exports from the Black Sea region. A trader noted, “Now that you can’t bring in American wheat, it gives us more incentive to buy from Kazakhstan. And once you’re trading of Kazakh wheat reaches a certain volume, you get government preferential support.”

Global Big Data Market in the Agriculture Sector 2018-2022 | Increasing Adoption of Smart Farming Techniques to Boost GrowthBusiness Wire, July 10

According to a new market research report published by Technavio, the global big data marker in the agriculture sector is expected to post a compound annual growth rate of close to 20 percent from 2018 to 2022. A key factor driving growth is the increasing adoption of smart farming techniques. SEE ALSO: Global Big Data Market in Agriculture Sector 2018-2022Technavio, July 10

A Milk Startup Takes on 300 Million CowsWall Street Journal, July 7

Srikumar Misra’s Milk Mantra company sought to create a milk product that was guaranteed fresh and did not require boiling. They labored to monitor and control the supply chain, challenging entrenched relationships that tie rural villages to cities through an opaque web of middlemen in the informal economy. The toughest challenge is changing longstanding consumer habits and attitudes.

US Soybean Exports Surged Last QuarterWall Street Journal, July 6

US soybean exports surged in the second quarter, delivering an outsize boon to economic growth even as China shifted much of its sourcing to Brazil in response to its worsening trade relations with the United States. The surge, which did little to ease farmers’ pain amid a downturn in prices, shows how global trade is shifting in the face of tit-for-tat sanctions between the world’s two largest economies. SEE ALSO: How the Trade War Is Changing Minds in a Senate BattlegroundAP, July 7. SEE ALSO: Trump Seeks to Reassure Anxious Farmers Being Hurt by His Trade War with ChinaWashington Post, July 11


International Agricultural and Food Exhibition Farmer Expo

Date: August 17-20

Location: Debrecen, Hungary

African Green Revolution Forum

Date: September 5-8

Location: Kigali, Rwanda

The International Civil Society Conference on the Sustainable Development Goals

Date: September 11-13

Location: Yaoundé, Cameroon

2018 SCRA Nuts and Bolts Workshop

Date: October 3-5

Location: Riverdale, Maryland

International Phytobiomes Conference 2018

Date: December 4-6

Location: Montpellier, France

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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.