June 29, 2018

This Week's GFFT News: Contaminated Sugar, Supercows, and Toilet Construction in Tanzania


Rural Girl Allies Build Stable StatesChicago Council on Global Affairs, June 28

Girls are seen as victims, combatants, and weapons in many modern-day conflicts. International leaders must recognize the continued level of day to day violence that many rural girls experience and making meaningful investments to ensure that the human rights of all girls are upheld. When rural girls are not safe, there will not be lasting global peace and security.


Guest Commentary – Hidden Infections Deplete Girls’ Education Momentum and Undercut Economic Growth for All, Chicago Council on Global Affairs, June 27

It’s been well documented that investing in female empowerment is essential for long-term economic growth. But in order for women to participate in the economy as men are currently able to, they need identical resources—including access to quality education. Millions of rural girls around the world are not in school, as they are hit particularly hard by parasitic infections, undernutrition, and their social consequences

Nigerians Coping with Food Shortage after Boko Haram Attacks, Al Jazeera, June 27

Attacks involving Boko Haram have displaced more than 1.8 million Nigerians in predominantly agricultural northeast region over the last 10 years. Due to the increase in violence, many small-scale farmers were forced to abandon their farms and agricultural activities. The subsequent fall in production, rocketing food prices, and lack of safe access to markets created one of the world's worst food security crises. SEE ALSO: The Latest Clash between Herdsmen and Farmers in Nigeria Has Left More Than 200 DeadQuartz, June 27. SEE ALSO: Nigeria Herders, Farmers Conflict Highlights Squeeze on Arable LandThomson Reuters Foundation, June 25

Malnutrition the 'Challenge of Our Time', Say Award WinnersThomson Reuters Foundation, June 25

David Nabarro and Lawrence Haddad were jointly awarded this year’s World Food Prize and are credited with cutting the number of stunted children in the world by 10 million by lobbying governments and donors to improve nutrition. Hadad claimed, “This is the big challenge of our time. It’s not about how to feed our world. It’s about how to nourish our world.”

World Population Growth Demands More US Agricultural ResearchAxios, June 26

The challenge of increasing crop yields to meet growing demand for food must first be overcome in laboratories. Specifically, agricultural research must focus on ways to combat crop and animal disease, cope with increased climate variability, improve food nutritional quality, and increase crop yields and resilience. The world's food security, as well as the United States' national-security interests, are at risk if the US falls behind on agricultural research.


UN Calls on Member States to Support UNRWA Amid Funding Shortages, Al Jazeera, June 26

One million people are at risk of losing food in the besieged Gaza Strip. The UN has asked member states to fill a critical funding gap caused by the US decision to cut aid in January. The cuts are endangering basic services, including food assistance, as well as medical clinics and education services to about half a million children

Logos on Aid Supplies: Helpful, Demeaning...or Dangerous?NPR, June 25

When humanitarian groups hand out food aid or toiletries, the groups put their logos on the product. It's a way of taking credit, making donors happy, and letting the recipients know where to complain if there's a problem. But now, some people are questioning the branding of aid goods for ethical and safety concerns. Despite the debate, the Chicago Council’s Next Generation delegate Cedric Habiyaremye shares his positive experience receiving WFP food aid while living as a child refugee.

Tanzania: Lawmakers Net TSh 1.45 Billion for Construction of Toilets, All Africa, June 25

The Tanzania Women Parliamentary Group raised roughly $636,000 over the weekend in a fundraising event for the construction of modern toilets. The initiative is meant to relieve girls from several shortcomings that make their schooling difficult, such as a lack of quality toilets. The group estimated about $1.54 million is enough to construct model toilets in all constituencies, both in mainland Tanzania and in its island regions.

FAO Helps Kenyan Farmers Rescue Harvest from Fall ArmywormFAO News, June 22

The fall armyworm is native to tropical and subtropical regions of the Americas, but has spread rapidly across Africa since 2016, causing serious damage particularly to maize crops. FAO initiated a pilot project where field scouts were deployed to visit smallholder farmers and assist them in manual control. This solution has proved effective for smallholders.


US, Canada Reach Deal on Disputed $244 Million Water ProjectAP, June 27

Canada will have a say in the operation of a major Missouri River water project under a $244 million deal negotiated to end a 16-year-legal battle. The Northwest Area Water Supply agreement won’t be final until a federal appeals court formally dismisses the case, but when it does, the deal will end the international dispute that has held up completion of the project to bring water to northwestern North Dakota. SEE ALSO: Americans Are Conserving Water like Never Before, According to the Latest Federal DataWashington Post, June 25

Gates Foundation and USAID Team up to Bring Design to HealthDevex, June 25

USAID and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have joined forces to encourage more global health practitioners to build their programs around the wants and needs of the people they aim to serve. At the annual Aspen Ideas Festival, representatives of the US donor agency and the world’s largest foundation launched a set of resources called “Design for Health” that will focus on approaches such as human-centered design.

Set of Congressional Budget Hearings Lay out US Aid FundingDevex, June 22

Congressional appropriators met to approve the United States foreign aid budget. The House passed a budget bill that matches the fiscal year 2018 budget at $54 billion, around $11.8 billion above the proposed cuts from the administration. That bill sends a clear message to friends and allies that global engagement and leadership remains strong.

Trump Wants to Reshape the US Food Safety System. The Idea Is Great, and Terrible.Opinion, Chase Purdy, Quartz, June 22

The American food safety system is poised for a big shake-up. President Trump released a plan that would bring the nation’s sprawling food safety forces under the watch of a single agency. It would be a significant change to the US regulatory system, with merits and pitfalls. Right now, the USDA is in charge of ensuring all meat, poultry, and catfish are safe to eat. FDA oversees just about everything else.


India Is Embracing the Internet of Cows to Help Its Dairy Farmers, Quartz, June 27

A software tool developed by India’s National Dairy Development Board is helping balance the diets of 2.4 million heads of Indian cattle, leading to increased milk output and reduced methane emissions. The tool, called Information Network on Animal Productivity and Health, has helped reduce enteric methane emissions by 12 to 15 percent while raising the average daily incomes of farmers by $0.37 per animal per day.

Bringing Farming Back to NatureOpinion, Daniel Moss and Mark Bitttman, New York Times, June 26

If we believe that food production should be about keeping people and the planet healthy, we need nothing less than to reboot the current industrial system and to create one that includes securing land tenure for farmers and indigenous people, making local markets work for small- and medium-scale farmers as well as consumers and workers, and practicing more public policies for local and sustainably grown food. SEE ALSOThe Farming Systems TrailRodale Institute

Flying Cameras Can Spot Lethal Disease Sweeping Through World's Olive Groves, Guardian, June 25

A devastating and fast-spreading infection crops around the world can now be detected from the air, long before symptoms are visible to the human eye. The new technique offers hope in the battle against one of the world’s most dangerous plant pathogens, which can infect olive, citrus, and almond trees, as well as grape vines, oaks, and elms. SEE REPORT: Previsual Symptoms of Xylella fastidiosa Infection Revealed in Spectral Plant-Trait Alterations, Nature Plants, June 25

Robots Run the Farm, but You Can Eat Only so MuchOpinion, Mark P. Mills, Wall Street Journal, June 25

More automation, including AI and robots, will be critical for meeting huge prospective demands of manufactured goods and agriculture output. Such rapidly expanding demand will ameliorate the job-killing effects of rapidly improving labor productivity. Between 1980 and 2000 US factory output nearly doubled, with only a 10 percent loss in factory employment.

From Supercows To Algae Suits: Here's Why Speculative Design Will Drive The Next Revolution In Food, Opinion, Forbes, June 22

An exhibit in Berlin showcases alternate fictive scenarios for future food production and consumption. Certain projects propose making insects more palatable by grinding them to a paste and using 3-D printing to reconstitute them in the shape of animals. The project leaders envision a future in people cultivating their own meat in wearable bioreactors. Perhaps most radically, two designers propose eliminating eating altogether by introducing algae to body organs, allowing humans to survive on sunlight.


Tobacco Farm in Malawi: The Families Toiling in the Fields, Guardian, June 25

Tobacco is Malawi’s most important export crop, with tobacco leaf from Malawi filling cigarettes found all over the world. Laborers like Tiyamike Phiri, a 14-year-old orphan, say they left school because they had no materials with which to study, opting to work in the fields instead. Tobacco firms claim they are doing all they can to stop exploitative child labor in their supply chains.

Helping Plants Remove Natural Toxins Could Boost Crop Yields by 47 Percent, Conversation, June 25

The goal of Realizing Increased Photosynthetic Efficiency (RIPE) is to increase the efficiency of photosynthesis. Their research has shown that it is possible to dramatically boost crop yield, by enabling the plant to get rid of its toxins more quickly. Their next goal is to apply their findings to important food crops including legumes as well as the root crop cassava, which are major staple foods worldwide.

How Andrés Manuel López Obrador Will Remake Mexico, Editorial, Economist, June 23

Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the leading candidate in Mexico’s upcoming presidential election, promises to upend the current political order and overthrow the status quo. His scheme for food self-sufficiency has made him hugely popular among rural voters in Southern Mexico. The plan would include price guarantees for crops produced by southern farmers. SEE ALSO: Fed Up with Violence and Corruption, Mexican Voters Embrace a Seasoned Leftist, Los Angeles Times, June 24 SEE ALSO: Making Rural Mexico Great Again: Leading Candidate Endorses Farmers’ Reform ProgramFoodtank, April 30

Confession of an Anti-GMO ActivistOpinion, Mark Lynas, Wall Street Journal, June 22

I am a science writer by profession, and in the early years of GMO development, I was an outspoken activist against the new technology. I have since reversed my views on GMOs, as evidence debunking early widespread fears has accumulated. The problem now isn’t just that almost all of the alarms about GMOs were false. It’s that the anti-GMO campaign has deprived much of the world of a crucial, life-improving technology.


World Food Prize Winners Tie Improved Child Nutrition to Economic Health, Des Moines Register, June 25

Lawrence Haddad and David Nabarro were recognized as 2018 World Food Prize Laureates during a ceremony at the US Department of Agriculture. Haddad and Nabarro were rewarded for their individual but complementary global leadership in elevating maternal and child undernutrition within the food security and development dialogue at national and international levels with the result of reducing the world’s number of stunted children by 10 million between 2012 and 2017. SEE ALSO: Nutrition Leaders Receive World Food PrizeFood Business News, June 26

Red Meat Allergies Caused by Tick Bites Are on the RiseNPR, June 25

Alpha gal is a sugar that animals make in their bodies, and an allergy to this sugar is being spread by the bite of a Lone Star tick. The allergy causes a negative reaction to red meat, including beef, pork, and lamb. The ticks likely get it from feeding off wild animals, such as mice or squirrels, that also carry alpha gal.

Kenya’s ‘Contaminated Sugar’ Row: What We Know, BBC Africa, June 24

Kenyan authorities have seized more than 1,000 bags of illegally imported sugar from warehouses in the capital Nairobi and other parts of the country. Interior Minister Fred Matiang'i said that harmful levels of mercury and copper had been found in samples tested from the sugar, but his claim was denied by the Trade Minister.

Food Aid To Puerto Rico Is Salty, Sugary, And Unbalanced, Researcher Says, NPR, June 22

Food items being distributed by FEMA in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria exceed the dietary limits for salt, saturated fat, and added sugars as prescribed by the Dietary Guidelines for America. Every item in the fruit category exceeded recommendations for added sugar and 83 percent of vegetables, all canned, exceeded the recommended content of sodium. SEE ALSO: Federal Food Aid Sent to Puerto Rico Contained Chips, Candy and other Foods High in Sugar, Salt and Fat, Milken Institute School of Public Health, June 11


Indian Capital’s Summer of Discontent: Anger, Killings Over Water, Reuters, June 28

Tens of thousands of people have cut back on daily showers and laundry because of a shortage of water that has led to fighting in some areas in which three people have been killed. Monsoon rains forecast for this week in Delhi will signal an end to the summer, but India faces the worst long-term water crisis in its history and millions of lives and livelihoods could be at risk.

Cyprus Asserts Itself as Regional Hub for Climate-Change Research, Nature, June 27

Cyprus is reshaping itself into a regional hub for climate-change research. In addition to investing $35 million in a new climate research center in Nicosia, the existing Cyprus Institute has already garnered wide support for its role in climate-change action. A Cyprus chapter of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network will help Middle Eastern and Mediterranean nations improve agriculture resilience and water sustainability.

Water Hazard: Malaysia's Belt-Tightening Resurrects Age-Old Dispute with SingaporeReuters, June 26

For over half a century, island-state Singapore has been getting half its fresh water from northern neighbor Malaysia. It is obliged to sell a small portion of treated water back to Malaysia at preferential rates. This deal could be up for review as the new prime minister in Kuala Lumpur seeks to cut down on the country’s ballooning debt.

Using Agriculture to Tackle the Water CrisisLivemint, June 26

A recent report by the National Institution for Transforming India underscores the looming threat of India’s water crisis. About 200,000 people die every year due to inadequate access to water—and are set to become far more so. Research and development in multi-resistant, water-efficient, and high-yielding crops along with investment in alternative modes of irrigation are musts. SEE REPORTComposite Water Management IndexNITI Aayog, June 13 SEE ALSO: NITI Aayog’s Water Management Index May Be an Experiment but It Is Lazy, Wire, June 26


Delaying Babies, Using Toilets Could Roll Back Anemia Crisis, India Spend, June 28

Improved sanitation facilities and delayed pregnancy in India could reduce the rates of anemia in pregnant women faster. Anemia impacts half of Indian women of reproductive age, increases the risk of maternal mortality, infection, preterm delivery, poor fetal, and infant health, and puts children at lifelong risk of issues involving cognitive development and physical growth.

Young Chefs in El Salvador Are Breathing New Life Into Traditional Cuisine, NPR, June 27

500 years of Spanish colonialization largely wiped out El Salvador’s food heritage, and the civil war that devastated the country in the 1980s fueled the rise of supermarket culture. Although most working-class Salvadorians still patronize American fast food chains, a growing cadre of chefs and entrepreneurs is working to recommit the nation to local foods.

£250,000 to Help Break down Barriers for Women in Scottish AgricultureFarmingUK, June 25

The Scottish government has awarded $329,300 to help break down the day-to-day barriers which limit the impact women have in the agriculture sector. According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) Labor Force Survey, women now make up one third of the agricultural sector’s traditionally male-dominated workforce, having increased by 7 percent over the last decade.

South Africa Must Focus on Its Kids to Meet UN Development Goal Targets, Conversation, June 25

There have been several vast improvements in the lives of South Africa’s children in recent years. But amid this progress there are also striking inequalities. Compared to their urban peers, children in rural areas are more likely to live in households with high unemployment levels and inadequate facilities. Poverty is the main underlying cause for the striking inequalities that are evident in children’s lives.

Agriculture, a Lucrative Business for African YouthReliefWeb, June 22

At the East Africa Community 11th Sectoral Council on Agriculture and Food Security, officials identified the issue of youth employment as one of the crucial steps to meeting the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program targets. The meeting also recognized and awarded six youth champions in agriculture entrepreneurship.


A Frozen Foods Deal to Melt the CompetitionWall Street Journal, June 27

The $8.2 billion deal between Conagra Brands and Pinnacle Foods unites the two frozen-food specialists amid a resurgence of sales growth in the frozen aisle. Conagra and Pinnacle are already standout performers in the struggling packaged-food space. Together they will be a formidable competitor to the biggest global brands like Kraft Heinz and Nestlé. SEE ALSO: Conagra Deal for Pinnacle Reflects Faith in Hot Frozen-Foods AisleWall Street Journal, June 27

Rebuilding the Rural Economy, Forbes, June 26

The recent spate of elections across the US and Europe has exposed the fault lines of advanced economies—cities are thriving while the rural economy is faltering. Rural economies suffer from poor public transport links and uneven broadband coverage—absolutely critical in dispersing populations while evolving small businesses and developing affordable housing.

Walmart-Led Blockchain Effort Seeks Farm-To-Grocery-Aisle View of Food Supply ChainWall Street Journal, June 25

A year after initial tests, 10 of the world’s biggest companies, including Walmart Inc. and Nestlé SA, are building a blockchain to remake how the industry tracks food worldwide. The so-called Food Trust aims to improve recalls, quickly identifying the issue and shrinking the time consumers are at risk. Business benefits are expected such as avoiding losses from overly broad food recalls.

Deere Suit Sheds Light on Race for $240 Billion Farm Tech MarketChicago Tribune, June 25

Precision agriculture harnesses big data to automate operations and boost productivity. According to a 2016 Goldman Sachs report, these new technologies will probably generate $240 billion in revenue by 2050 and help lift crop yields by 70 percent. Deere & Co., the world's biggest tractor maker, is suing rival AGCO Corp. over precision agriculture gadgets in the hopes of securing their position in the projected market. SEE ALSOProfiles in Innovation- Precision AgricultureGoldman Sachs, July 13, 2016

Cattle Ranchers in South Dakota Explain How NAFTA Talks Could Make or Break the American Beef MarketBusiness Insider, June 24

Since NAFTA came into effect in 1994, US beef exports to Mexico have increased by more than 450 percent, and exports to Canada have more than doubled. While one rancher, Kenny Fox points to the fact that the US has accumulated a $32 billion trade deficit for beef products, rancher Eric Jennings is happy with the trade agreement and says it has opened up our borders tremendously.


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.

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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 Pietro Turilli

Field Notes - How to Strike the Most Effective Partnerships for Food Security

In today’s hyperconnected world, challenges felt in one region or country almost always have wider if not global repercussions. The International Potato Center, part of the CGIAR system, develops partnerships with the private sector to tackle these challenges more effectively. 

| By Julie Borlaug

Featured Commentary - Hope Through Agriculture: Now More than Ever

In our latest collaboration with Agri-Pulse, Julie Borlaug writes that now is the time for everyone in agriculture to demonstrate how their passion and dedication have found solutions to the major threats we face as a collective human species: food and nutrition security, environmental stability and sustainability.

| By Lisa Moon

Guest Commentary - Reduce Food Loss & Waste, Feed Millions

Studies show that one-third of all food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted, enough to feed 1.9 billion people-almost the same amount as are experiencing food insecurity. Food banks are uniquely positioned to address the paradox of global hunger and food loss and waste. 

| By Colin Christensen, Eva Koehler

Guest Commentary - The Plague You’ve Never Heard About Could be as Destructive as COVID-19: How the Threat from Desert Locusts Shows the Need for Innovations in how Organizations Scale

The international community needs to mobilize to combat the plague of locusts devouring East Africa. At the same time however, we should also consider the long-term investments we must make to build lasting resilience to climate change among smallholder populations.

| By Sarah Bingaman Schwartz, Maria Jones

Guest Commentary - Reducing Food Loss and Waste by Improving Smallholder Storage

Reducing postharvest losses by half would result in enough food to feed a billion people, increase smallholder income levels and minimize pressure on natural resources. The ADM Institute for the Prevention of Postharvest Loss works with smallholders in Bihar to improve storage and reduce loss.