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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!

Pulse Feast: An Online Campaign Worth Following

Picture-collageThis past month has been one of the most fascinating months on the job for me. I was able to be a part of a global campaign which gathered lots of recognition on the web. Pulse Feast was an event that consumed our time for close to a year, planning and organizing, and it finally took place on January 6, 2016. I spent close to 48 hours with other emerging team members, chained to our computers, ensuring the event goes on without a hitch… and wow was it ever exciting.

Normally, a 48 hour work day with 3 hour sleep breaks here and there is something not enjoyable, and something I waved goodbye to in University. However, the 48 hours were filled with major highs, having images sent to us from around the world with people celebrating and embracing the International Year of Pulses.

We had planned ahead, outlining the many events that were sent our way so we would be prepared and ready once the thousands of images were flooding in our direction. But, as most global social media campaigns, there were many surprises. These included consumers seeing the hashtag #PulseFeast and holding their own private celebrations. These “surprise” events took place in Africa, South Africa, Asia, North America, and South America. We were also fortunate to have images sent our way of children being fed pulse nutrients in Malaysia. The notion of #PulseFeast being a celebration to raise awareness of the benefits of pulses and how delicious and versatile they are, was achieved.  We were trending globally on Twitter, with our hashtags showing up on the “trending now” column for hours at a time in Canada and Australia.

This is only the beginning for the celebration of pulses. We encourage everyone to continue celebrating the International Year of Pulses. By using the hashtag #LovePulses, your images, tweets, and videos will be shared on our social media hub. Join the conversation, share your pulse experiences, let’s celebrate!

Read the report:

From Pulse Feast day to feast pulses all year!

These last weeks at Emerging Ag have been tremendously exciting thanks to the buzz created by Pulse Feast. Months of hard work and great collaborations between all the IYP2016 partners made January 6th a remarkable starting point for the International Year of Pulses.

From Canada to France, through Mexico, the US, UK and Mauritania, the Emerging team was mobilised to make Pulse Feast a day to remember.

A few numbers to give you a glimpse of the tremendous success? 141 events in 36 countries! And, thanks to Thunderclap we had the #PulseFeast tag trending all over social media platforms with 21 million posts!

The Emerging Ag team worked around the clock for 5 days to insure a dynamic and live update of the Pulse Feast events. A quick glance at our coverage shows that all the continents were on board for Pulse Feast:

Oceania - 9 events:  Australia (7), New Zealand (2)

Asia - 13 events: China (2), India (5), Japan, Malaysia, Taiwan, Thailand, Singapore (2)

Near East – 6 events: Bahrain, UAE, Lebanon, Turkey (3 events)

Europe – 14 events:  Belgium, France (2), Germany, Netherlands (2), Spain, Sweden, Russia, UK (6)

Africa - 7 events:  Kenya, Malawi, Mauritania, Morocco, South Africa (3)

North America – 49 events:  Canada (33), USA (19)

Latin America and Caribbean - 8 events:  Argentina, Colombia, Brazil, Peru (2), Cuba, Mexico (2), Cayman Islands, Dominican Republic

Pulse Feast had been a great beginning of what is going to be a key year to make a global difference in the pulse value chain. In that regard, in order to promote the global production and consumption of pulses around the world, the International Year of Pulses will tackle key challenges through numerous signature events during the year.

The next events in line are already scheduled for February:
- The Pulse Conclave in India will promote the global pulses trade and industry
- The PanAfrican Grain Legume and World Cowpea Conference in Zambia

We hope that all these efforts from all the key stakeholders of the pulse industry, small farmers or bigger producers will contribute to make a difference in a global effort to fight hunger and enhance the quality of nutrition around the world.

Pulse Feast Thunderclap - We Need Your Support

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Tomorrow is a big day for us.  On January 6th we have a global thunderclap to promote Pulse Feasts around the world. Thunderclap is an app that allows organisations and their supporters to share messages on social media (Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr) automatically.  If you sign up, the Thunderclap will automatically post a #PulseFeast message around the world at 12pm GMT on 6th January. Please sign up using your own Twitter or Facebook profile and encourage your network to do so.  It is very simple and the link is here: bit.ly/1S0C1NH

There are more than 50 events planned around the world starting in New Zealand and moving all the way to the West Coast.  We can’t wait and the Emerging team will be working around the clock starting on January 5th at 11pm our time.  Visit www.pulses.org to see it all unfold.

International Migrants Day

According to the UN Population Division (DESA) estimates, the number of international migrants — persons living in a country other than where they were born — reached 244 million in 2015 for the world as a whole, an increase of 71 million, or 41 per cent, compared to 2000. The year 2015 will be remembered as one of migrant tragedies. But 2015 will also be remembered as the year in which the international community recognized the contributions of migrants, migration and mobility to countries of origin, destination and transit by integrating international migration in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. We at Emerging wish a world of freedom, food security and personal security to all those making their way to new homes.

- Secretary-General’s Message for 2015 (see: http://www.un.org/en/events/migrantsday/2015/sgmessage.shtml)

COP21: Paris Climate Agreement unlocks opportunities for food and farming

The last two weeks in Paris at the UNFCCC COP were an exciting time, the culmination of many years of protracted negotiations that saw pragmatism and urgency ally to deliver the Paris Agreement. For those involved in agriculture, it may feel like a bittersweet ending. After many COP meetings to the tune of "No Agriculture, No Deal” it may even feel like a lost battle. But it is not. Never before have I seen so many events focused on agriculture, so many people talking about the sector and so much interest in the issue. And the Paris text may not say ‘agriculture’ but there are many entry points and opportunities for engagement laid out in the decisions from Paris. At Emerging we were happy to be able to help colleagues at CCAFS through the two weeks and their analysis of the deal should give you hope! The info note and research highlights key outcomes and next steps for the ag community.

It is time for those who have been part of the long fight to see agriculture recognised and included to look at current tactics and re-evaluate where engagement needs to happen. The next 4 years should be busy as ever!