emerging blog

FANRPAN Voted Top Think Tank

Agriculture is always in need of great minds, and it is the consensus of everyone that the FANRPAN team, including CEO Lindiwe Sibanda, are some of the most innovative thinkers in the world.  Developing new ideas and building social innovations to advance agriculture and nutrition has made them leaders in Africa – and the world - as a recent index said.

The Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) has been ranked 13 out of 92 in Sub-Saharan Africa and 55 out of 175 globally in the 2015 Global Go To Think Tank Index Report (TTI), led by the University of Pennsylvania through its Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program (TTCSP).

In the Best Transdisciplinary Research Think Tanks category, FANRPAN was rated 15 out of 80, thanks to the recently launched flagship programme called — Agriculture to Nutrition (ATONU): Improving Nutrition Outcomes Through Optimized Agricultural Investments. The programme is a regional initiative and answers the question “What can agriculture programs do to achieve positive nutrition outcomes?” FANRPAN has assembled a leading global consortium of African and international organizations to design, pilot, rigorously evaluate and promote a range of nutrition sensitive agriculture interventions that will improve the nutrition outcomes of agricultural programs.

BioEnterprise in BC

There is great news from BioEnterprise that they are launching their office in BC. It is an honour to sit on the board and to help foster agricultural innovation and entrepreneurship.

Bioenterprise has established a strategic partnership with the BC Innovation Council (BCIC), and joins the BC Acceleration Network (BCAN) to support the commercialization of agricultural technologies and innovations in BC.

Bioenterprise BC, along with the other accelerators in BCAN, will help entrepreneurs grow their business ventures.

"British Columbia is the home to many great entrepreneurs within the agriculture, agri- food sectors and has created innovation leaders in agri-technology, with companies like BW Global, Terramera, and Tabletree," explains Dave Smardon, President & CEO of Bioenterprise Corporation. "With such an innovative culture in BC, it is only fitting that Bioenterprise establish a BC office to work in partnership with the BC Accelerator Network and to help foster these companies to become commercialization successes."

Learn more here.

The LovePulses Product Showcase is Underway!

The Global Pulse Confederation (GPC) and its partners are hosting this year the LovePulses Product Showcase. This global competition aims to encourage the development of innovative food products containing pulses as core ingredients. So far Ethiopia, India and Canada have named their great champion that will represent their countries at the Global Showcase at IFT in Chicago July 16-19, 2016 with the winners of the national and virtual competitions.

The participants to this global competition showed a large range of innovative approaches to put Pulses in the spotlight. The winner of Ethiopia’s competition, Mrs. Greiling, showcased six new nutritious and delicious pulse-based products as ‘special menu’ of the day, starting with breakfast, lunch, snack, right up to dinner. Different types of pulses were used, among them faba bean, field pea, chickpea, mung bean, and cowpea.

Canada just finished their Mission ImPULSEible competition at The Canadian Institute of Food Science & Technology (CIFST) on February 22 in Vancouver during CIFST’s annual conference under the theme: Pulse Innovation in Traditional Food Products. Six teams from each province competed in Vancouver with Canadian celebrity chef Vikram Vij who served as one of the judges for the Mission : ImPULSEible National Championship.

IMG_0416The theme of the Indian competition was to create a snack food or convenience food product (ready to eat, ready to heat) made with pulses that focus on technology, innovation or recipe development. The competition was launched on October 1st, 2015. 2 teams from each of the North, South, East, West and Central zones travelled to Jaipur for the national competition and 34 submissions were received! The national winners competed and were selected at the Pulses Conclave in Jaipur on February 18th. The winning team, students from the Institute of Hotel Management in Bangalore used adzuki beans, red split lentils, black gram and other ingredients to create “Adzuki Coins”, a wonderful new snack.

In March, China and the US will hold their National competition, followed by Australia and Japan. All of them will encourage the creation and innovation of food products to help present pulses to the world and build awareness around the IYP2016.

Pulse Partnerships in India

DSC_2877 (003)The Pulses Conclave held in Jaipur February 17- 19 was one of 11 signature events in 2016 to mark the United Nations International Year of Pulses.  I had the honour of speaking during the opening session, and highlighted the many activities taking place across the Global Pulse Confederation to celebrate the International Year.  In just one day on January 6th, #PulseFeast was able to reach 21 million people on the importance of pulses through social media and 141 events in 36 countries.  It was a great launch and there are now hundreds of recipes and resources available at www.pulses.org.  All the delegates were encouraged to celebrate more #PulseFeast opportunities in April using some of the national dishes featured on the site and to include their tweets, pictures and stories with IYP.

The Conclave highlighted that pulse trade has been of increased importance to India as two years of poor harvests have reduced domestic production. India produced 17 million tonnes of pulses in past 2 years - a drop of 2 million tonnes from normal, due to poor harvests. The challenges in pulse production have been an ongoing issue as pulse crops have received less support and engagement.  To increase pulse production, pulses will need 10 times more research funding, said Huseyin Arslan, Chairman of GPC. India plans to move from 18.25 million tonnes of pulse production to 21 million tonnes in 2017-18 and 24 million tonnes in 2020-21, said Dr. J.S. Sandhu of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research.  The government’s goal is to achieve nutritional security, not just food security.

According to Dr. D. Bergvinson, head of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) other changes also need to be made to reach this goal. He stated that there is a “strong need to bring rice-fallow land into pulses production, add 4 million acres to Indian production.” He also noted pulse storage needs to be closer to farmers and pulse processing should be improved to reduce losses. Taking up these calls to action, the Indian Pulse and Grain Association signed an agreement with ICRISAT to further pulse productivity in India.

The laudable plans to increase production will still require significant trade in the foreseeable future. At this time, it is important to keep the trade rules predictable.  Trade has not been able to keep pace with the production drops according to Mr. G. Chandrashekhar of the Hindi Business Line.  In this context, having over 1000 participants at the Pulses Conclave was a strong statement about the importance of the trade and its commitment to furthering the pulse sector.

This Conclave also brought many positive partnerships, such as when the Mynamar Overseas Trade Association and IPGA signed an understanding to work jointly to promote trade between the two countries. The IPGA also agreed to work with ITC to promote small business in developing countries and had a strong delegation of small businesses from Africa interested in meeting Indian supply needs.

IMG_0416The week capped off with the exciting #LovePulses Product Showcase.  A team of students from the Institute of Hotel Management in Bangalore won an Indian-wide food competition for developing innovative dishes using pulses.  Alok Prasad, Aseem Kumar, Harsh Bansal, and Saurabh Agarwal used adzuki beans, red split lentils, black gram and other ingredients to create “Adzuki Coins” - a wonderful new snack.  “The depth of the innovation and creativity was striking,” said Pravin Dongre, Chairman of the IPGA.  “It was an honour to recognise the team from Bangalore among the 36 entries initially received. This is one step on the nutrition side of food security and IPGA will also be working to increase productivity in pulses in India – a vital issue to national and international food security.”  It was an honour to be there.

Pulses celebrated internationally as a ‘super crop’ for sustainability

This post originally appeared on Peoplefoodandnature.org

When it comes to eating sustainably, beans, peas, lentils, chickpeas, and other pulses are hard to beat.


A staple of many traditional diets around the globe, high-protein, low-fat, high-fiber pulse grains have been shown to fight disease and malnutrition. In farming systems, pulses ‘fix’ atmospheric nitrogen, adding it to the soil. Many pulse varieties tolerate drought and break pest cycles that afflict cereal crops.

In recognition of the tremendous advantages to be gained by the world growing and eating more pulses, the United Nations General Assembly has declared 2016 the International Year of Pulses (IYP). With leadership from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization and an array of activities organized through the Global Pulse Confederation, IYP is already increasing the visibility and appeal of pulses among consumers.

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Pulses: fundamental to global food security and agricultural sustainability


Pulse crops are produced on approximately 80 million hectares globally. Two-thirds of all pulses are grown in Asia and Africa, where populations depend on them heavily for dietary protein. India, with over 22 million pulse farmers, accounts for about 25% of global production. Pulse producers range from smallholder farmers with weak market access to large commercial operations that are well-connected to global commodity markets. Average pulse crop yields vary significantly between developed and developing countries.

As a subset of the legume family, pulse plants add nitrogen to farm systems, which reduces the need for farmers to add fertilizers and lowers net greenhouse gas emissions. Adding pulses to cereal monocultures often gives a boost to soil microbes, inhibiting plant pathogens. Pulses have a low water footprint compared to most other protein sources and can increase overall water use efficiency in crop rotations.



Farmers can choose from many pulse varieties to match plant traits to growing conditions. But with increasingly volatile weather affecting agriculture, pulse yields are under threat and scientific advances will be needed. In addition to improving pulse productivity and resilience, researchers and producers will need to anticipate climate change effects at scales that are relevant for production decisions. They will also need to find ways to better integrate pulse crops into agricultural landscapes through optimized rotations, pest control strategies and improved seed supply.

A worldwide campaign to highlight and support pulse production


Throughout this year, researchers, producers, companies, international agencies and other entities will tackle the knowledge frontiers for sustainable pulse crop production at meetings all over the world. Later this month in Livingstone, Zambia, the Pan-African Grain Legume and World Cowpea Conference will showcase best practices for production and harvesting, as well as innovative seed systems and inclusive value chains. Meanwhile, the conference will addressing barriers to sustainably improving production in the face of climate change and other challenges.
LEARN MORE

Hear directly from farmers on how growing pulses has benefited them in these 2-minute videos and follow @LovePulses on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram to keep up-to-date on information and activities.

How can YOU broaden the impact of pulses to human health, nutrition, and to the sustainability of agricultural systems? Here are 10 great things you can do and here are pulse recipes from around the world to try.

See the latest from Farming First

Farming First kicks off 2016 with a spotlight on science in their February 2016 Newsletter. Explore 28 ways scientific innovations are shaping global development in their new interactive essay produced in partnership with CGIAR. Farming First also shares blogs written by speakers who attended the Global Forum for Innovations in Agriculture in Abu Dhabi this week.

Want to Influence Climate Debate? The UNFCCC accredited organisations can now make submissions to the Subsidary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice. Get your SBSTA Submissions in by 9th March! Click here to make your submission, or here to access an info note on this topic, from Farming First's partner CCAFS.

Read the guest blogs from the Global Forum for Innovations in Agriculture:

Young Agripreneurs, Your Time is Now! by João Igor, Co-Founder, CoolFarm

Strategies to Transform the Livestock Sector, by Harinder Makkar, Animal Production & Health Division, FAO

Integrating Food Systems to Improve Nutrition, by Marc Van Amerigen, Executive Director, GAIN Alliance

The Joint Pan-African Grain Legume and World Cowpea Conference kicks off in 2 Weeks

panafricaIn two weeks the Joint Pan-African Grain Legume and World Cowpea Conference kicks off. It is one of the 11 signature events we will see during the International Year of Pulses, the second in 2016. It has been amazing to see the momentum that has been building for IYP and its related events, evidence of this in over 600 abstract submissions for this conference. Of the abstracts accepted, 112 were assigned to topical oral sessions and approximately 390 to poster sessions.  This translates into approximately 500 abstracts of research on grain legumes (pulses) that will be presented!

This scientifically focused conference will cover some fascinating topics. One of the plenary sessions I find particularly interesting is titled “Ecological approaches to integrated pest management in grain Legumes”. According to the FAO, “Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is an ecosystem approach to crop production and protection that combines different management strategies and practices to grow healthy crops and minimize the use of pesticides”. The FAO promotes IPM as the favoured approach to crop protection and regards it as a pillar of both sustainable growth of crop production and pesticide risk reduction. IPM emphasizes the growth of a healthy crop with the least possible disruption to agro-ecosystems and encourages natural pest control mechanisms.

With our rapidly growing population, we will need to substantially increase food production and IPM will be a key component of this. For example, while pulses are an extremely sustainable crop that use less water, have a smaller carbon foot print and fix nitrogen in the soil, between 30-40% of pulse crops can be lost because of pests and diseases. This can be exacerbated by the fact that pulses are especially non-competitive crops. In the past we have focused on one or two kinds of technologies, particularly chemical pesticides, to manage pests and disease. Integrated Pest Management looks beyond this.

Signature events like the Joint Pan-African Legume and World Cowpea Conference, provide an opportunity to increase the awareness of issues faced by pulse farmers around the globe, and draw attention and resources to key areas of activity and research aimed at improving pulse productivity worldwide. This conference will provide a platform for scientists and individuals involved in the pulse value chain to exchange information and ideas which will improve pulse production.

For more information on the Joint Pan-African Grain Legume and World Cowpea Conference… Click here. Also, join the conversation by using the hashtags #Legumes4African and #LovePulses.

Who ranks first in Childhood obesity?

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Oatmeal Chile poblano stuffing, recipe available on Avenacanada.com

Mexico can boast of many things, like being the first exporter of avocados in the World, or being the first to drink and cook one of the most delicious, and healthy, ancient foods, hot chocolate. The root for this word comes from the náhuatl xocolātl, and was actually kept in almost all languages.

But one of the things that Mexicans are not proud of, is the obesity problem still spreading all over the country. Embarrassingly, Mexico ranks first in both childhood and adult obesity. Sadly, Mexico also ranks first in childhood diabetes. A disease which is one the leading causes of death in the Aztec country.

As a response to these alarming issues, the Prairie Oat Growers Association decided to see how they can help through the website targeting Mexican consumers. Last December, we met with representatives of the Mexican Diabetes Federation, to join their campaign focused on the prevention and treatment of the disease.

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IFPRI DG, Shenggen Fan, named Champion of Sustainable Development Goal 12.3

It is with great pleasure to see the Director General of IFPRI, Shenggen Fan, named a Champion of Sustainable Development Goal 12.3. Shenggen was my boss when I worked at IFPRI. He is such an inspiration for his passion to change policies in order to increase food security and see agriculture, food and nutrition issues in their broader macro-economic context. I am proud to consider Shenggen a mentor in my career and am delighted to still be able to partner with IFPRI and the other CGIAR centers in my new projects.  The CGIAR system is vital to achieve the SDGs.

The Sustainable Development Goal 12.3 strives to halve per capital food waste and reduce food losses by 2030. To date, nearly one third of all food is lost or wasted globally. Not only does this cost $940 billion per year, but food loss and waste accounts for about 8 percent of our annual global greenhouse gas emissions.

Champions 12.3 is a new effort, inspired by Tristram Stuart (FeedBack), led by the World Resources Institute and the Government of the Netherlands, to inspire ambition and mobilize action to reduce food loss and waste globally.  Shenggen Fan joins a group of 30 Champions announced at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

The Champions—who include CEOs of major companies, government ministers, and executives from research, farmer, civil society, and other organizations—will mobilize action by leading by example; communicating the importance of this goal; showcasing successful strategies; and advocating for more innovation, greater investment, better information, and increased capacity to reduce food loss and waste.

£3 billion announcement by Chancellor Osborne and Bill Gates to fight malaria

The global effort to fight Malaria had reached a substantial level of commitment with the recent announcement at the Liverpool School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine: Chancellor Georges Osbourne and Bill Gates announced a joint commitment of £3 billion over the next five years to significantly reduce deaths from malaria by 90% by 2030 with the goal of ultimately eradicating the disease.

Malaria is a threat to life, health and well-being, nearly 200 million people are infected with malaria each year. That infection rate is more than three times the population of the UK! The last 2 decades saw a tremendous global effort to contribute to the eradication of malaria. In order to succeed in such endeavour more capitals are to be engaged to encourage creative approaches as well as subsequent financial resources.

The UK had always been a real catalyst to unite and direct efforts to fight malaria on a global scale ever since Ronald Ross’s discovery that mosquitoes transmit malaria back in 1897 that earned him the Nobel Prize. Thanks to a concerted international push there has been extraordinary progress the last 15 years to save over six million lives, mainly young children and pregnant women!

James Whiting, Malaria No More UK’s Executive Director reacts: “We wholeheartedly welcome the UK’s announcement and ongoing leadership in the malaria campaign. Today’s news will have a profound and lasting impact on the lives of countless families across Africa and sends a powerful signal to political leaders internationally to give urgent priority to the malaria fight in 2016.”

David Schellenberg, Professor of Malaria and International Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical medicine adds: “This is tremendous news for the UK scientific community as our work on innovation is vital if we’re to beat malaria. I have no doubt that it will enable creation of new tools and strategies to stay one step ahead of the mosquito, one of the tiniest, yet most deadly and adaptable creatures on earth”.

Recent studies have shown investments offer more than £15 back on every £1 invested! Chancellor Georges Osbourne and Bill Gates’ contribution is certainly a major accelerator to accomplish one the greatest public health challenge many developing countries are facing and will greatly contribute to get sooner to a malaria free world!