emerging blog

2015 Annual Report from the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) Launched

The 2015 Annual Report from the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) has been launched, following a crucial year for climate research and action. Agriculture gained prominence in the Paris climate agreement, helped by the work that many groups, such as CCAFS, have done to help make the case for the sector’s crucial importance in mitigation and adaptation. CCAFS report also highlights the important role of science in informing initiatives to enhance farmers’ resilience both at the policy level as well as through partnerships at farm level– illustrated by the example of the work carried out in climate-smart villages around the world.

Learn more by reading the 2015 Annual Report here: http://bit.ly/ccafs2015

EDD Session: Ending Hunger and Undernutrition: It can be done faster

The numbers are staggering. Hunger and undernutrition are persistent and unacceptable human tragedies that cause and perpetuate poverty and have huge social and economic costs.  Yet, preventing malnutrition is one of the most efficient development interventions: malnutrition prevention programs deliver $16 in returns on investment for every $1 spent.

The case for improving food security and nutrition is clear; the challenge comes in accomplishing it and progress has been too slow.

Is it the lack of political will?

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2016 Global Pulse Convention Recap

Between May 18 and 22nd I, along with the Emerging team traveled to Çeşme, Turkey, for the 2016 Global Pulse Convention. This conference had over 650 participants from all over the world participate in meetings and discussions regarding the pulse industry and the International Year of Pulses.

One of the meetings we helped organize was the national committees meeting. In this meeting, national committees presented on the amazing activities they had been working on, as well as collaborated with others to think of new and creative ways to get consumers involved with IYP2016.  It was fantastic to see the countless events these committees are hosting all over the world. Ranging from educational field day seminars, to galas, and to recipe books. Instead of describing each activity, below are a few highlights;

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UNEP and UNFCCC talk Agriculture and Environmental Impact

In the past few weeks we’ve seen a lot coming up about agriculture and its impact on the environment.  Two overlapping UN meetings were addressing the subject – at the UN Environmental Assembly (UNEA 2) in Nairobi, we saw a lot of focus on biodiversity, natural resources and agriculture, with the launch of a new report called “Food Systems and Natural Resources” discussing the challenges we face and calling for a move to ‘Resource-Smart food Systems'. The report highlights some important ways forward too, such as the need to sustainably intensify production, reduce food loss and waste, and improve energy and water-efficiency in food processing.

At the same time, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was also meeting. One of the items on the agenda was climate-smart agriculture. Two workshops were held on adaptation and on technologies, but the negotiations in the informal groups did not yield a conclusive way forward, highlighting the continued sensitivity of the issue to many countries.

The proliferation of concepts seeking to capture what are ‘sustainable’ agriculture systems – from resource-smart, to climate smart - are an important indication of the complexity of the task at hand. But it also can create some confusion among external stakeholders. We are going to see a lot of these issues converge as efforts to define the Sustainable Development Goals indicators intensify in coming months. Under Goal 2, measuring progress towards sustainable agriculture is one of the main dimensions. This will undoubtedly require grappling with the same issues raised at UNEP and UNFCCC these past weeks.

To mobilize agriculture against climate change, leave no pulse behind

On May 16-26, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will host the Bonn Climate Change Conference. In the wake of the December signing of the Paris Agreement, the event will focus on implementation of this landmark pact through the First session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Paris Agreement. At the same time, this venue will also advance long-running processes such as the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA), which will hold its forty-fourth session.  So the Bonn conference represents both new and long-term international collaboration to tackle global climate change.

In their reflections note for this event, the outgoing and incoming Conference of the Parties presidents state that “No issue has been left behind.” Indeed, agriculture, which has struggled at times for visibility in the UNFCCC negotiations, will be featured through two SBSTA sessions at the Bonn conference focused on adaptation measures and enhancement of productivity. These sessions will offer a venue for governments and others to explore this sector’s role in the climate response, including the agriculture-related strategies put forth in 80% of the submitted Intended Nationally Determined Contributions.

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A CGIAR guide to Climate-Smart Agriculture

An online guide to climate-smart agriculture (CSA) has been created by the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS). Contributions to the site came from experts at the World Bank, CGIAR and many other institutions on these issues. The site covers the basics, such as what is CSA and why it is important, and offers detailed guidance on CSA planning, finance, and case studies from around the world. The site offers many access points for those who are interested in specific practices, systems approaches or policies. This guide should come in handy ahead of the agriculture workshops that will be held on May 21 and 23rd during the next meeting of the UN Climate Change convention in Bonn, Germany.

Explore the website, and learn about climate-smart agriculture, here.

Forget about the weather, there are more original ways to make small talk: IYP 2016 in Latin America

Semana Nacional de la Nutricion 2016-1Since the United Nations started to declare International Years in 1960, only 3 foods have received such recognition: rice, potatoes and quinoa. 2015 was dedicated to soils, 2014 to the importance of Family Farming... This year pulses entered this honorary list of UN International Years, ready to show the world how much they contribute to the global food security, to people’s diets and to the soils.

As a Mexican, pulses and especially beans, are close to my heart since childhood. I was a difficult child who did not want to eat veggies. Can you guess what I preferred to eat instead? Beans. Frijoles de la olla with scrambled eggs. My niece’s favorite food is also beans... No wonder why we are called Frijoleros. 

To track down what is happening in Latin America, this month I attended a couple of events dedicated to the International Year of Pulses 2016. Organised by INTA (Instituto Nacional de Innovación y Transferencia en Tecnología Agropecuaria), the LXI PCCMCA annual meeting took place in San Jose on April 5-8. The meeting gathered 300 attendants from many countries from the region including Panama, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic and Mexico, to discuss regional strategies for food security, mitigation and adaptation to climate change.

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World Malaria Day: End Malaria for Good!

This year's slogan for World Malaria Day is End Malaria for Good! It sounds like a vivid call to action to address one of the deadliest diseases of our time. World Malaria Day gives global awareness to the fight against this killer disease, but let’s not forget that it is unfortunately a daily struggle for many exposed countries. Today is a key moment to reflect on all the efforts that were brought together in the tremendous fight against malaria and the result of such mobilization.

A lot of progress had been made to dramatically reduce the malaria mortality rate. The rate fell 60% between 2000 and 2015 and during the same period, the number of mortality cases had also fallen by 37% globally! It is also estimated that there has been a cumulative 1.2 billion fewer malaria cases and 6.2 million fewer malaria deaths.

The amazing determination driving the actors of the fight against malaria contributed in those encouraging numbers. However sustaining them will be the real challenge to take this “End Malaria for Good” slogan to a tangible successful outcome. To achieve this goal various and new creative approaches with anti-malaria technology as well as subsequent financial resources will be needed.

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Investing in Nutrition

Global action is urgently needed to tackle the pervasive problem of malnutrition. For too long, it has been underfunded – receiving just $3.9 billion annually in global funding. Reaching the targets to reduce stunting among children and anemia in women, increase exclusive breastfeeding rates, and mitigate the impact of wasting will require an average annual investment of $7 billion over the next 10 years.

While this level of investment is ambitious, it is not unprecedented. In fact, donors and country governments can immediately begin to invest in a subset of high-impact solutions. This priority set of interventions would require only $2.2 billion a year above what is currently spent and is estimated to save 2.2 million lives and empower 50 million more children to grow to their full physical and cognitive potential in 2025.

The World Bank, Results for Development (R4D), and 1,000 Days provided this first-of-its-kind analysis of the global resources needed to achieve four of the six WHA targets (stunting, breastfeeding, anemia, and wasting). It highlights the need for many actors to engage in nutrition, and furthers the case for partnerships to accelerate actions.

The Private Sector Mechanism will be holding a Partnerships Forum on Nutrition in Rome at the end of April to accelerate these actions. This forum will provide a unique setting for sharing examples and concrete experiences of successful initiatives across sectors in many countries.

Follow the International Agri-food Network on Twitter (@Agrifoodnet) and LinkedIn to stay up to date on developments and event updates. Use the hashtag #InvestInNutrition to join the conversation and create impact through Twitter and Facebook!

Getting Oat Innovation on the Agenda

Oats – they are a grain that evokes comfort, home, and a hearty healthiness. Whether oatmeal cookies, oatmeal, or an amazing addition to savoury dishes, there is something about oats that evokes fond memories for me. Plus it is a reminder of Canada’s productive farming capacity. Canada produces the most oats and is responsible for half the world’s exports of oats.

I’ve just wrapped up a visit to Ottawa with the Prairie Oat Growers Association, where visits to all three political parties provided an opportunity to share the story of oats. Over the past two decades, oat farming has become increasingly productive. Canadian oats have high levels of beta-glucan that make them heart-healthy and excellent quality in terms of weight and colour. These competitive advantages cannot be taken for granted.

Oat milling in Canada has declined in favour of American processing. With that has come the need to export, so when grain transportation arose two years ago and oats were not able to move, the impact was grave. Millers couldn’t get what they needed without exports from other countries as far away as Sweden. American millers have encouraged a return to American production resulting in market losses to Canadians.

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This situation reminds us all of some fundamental needs. It is essential to ensure the reliability of oat exports – already the industry has implemented 100 car unit trains, increased trucking, and railway fleet options. The ongoing regulatory environment must monitor and sustain solutions in all corridors. Movement South to the US and Mexico needs just as much attention as movement to port position.

There is also a need to support domestic consumption and processing. After years of reductions, it is time to think about our domestic capacity for processing and the ways to excite Canadians production of oats.

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This requires innovation. Part of that innovation is to help consumers think of oats as more than just a breakfast food. Oats make a great addition to all meals and are a wonderful snack food. Use of oats as an ingredient needs more exploration, including traits like beta-glucan to make other foods more heart-healthy.

Oats also need new markets – domestic and foreign – plus better ways to serve the American processors like Cheerios and Quaker Oats that have been such great supporters of Canadian oats. They need high beta-glucan levels, strong evidence on the natural sustainability claims of a low-water use crop like oats.

Innovation is the pathway to lift the Canadian oat market and we hope more leaders are seeing the role for this vital crop.