emerging blog

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


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!

Eradicating malaria in 25 years could be possible!

Today malaria is one of the deadliest diseases in Africa. While the number of people affected by malaria has been reduced, the disease has not been eliminated. There were still 198 million cases in 2013 alone! What if the continent, the whole world could be free from malaria for good? A study by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation states that this goal could be attain in one generation, 25 years, but it will have to be global effort with more involvement from developing countries.

The last 2 decades had been extraordinary in terms of the fight against malaria. Efforts are still to be made though, demanding various and new creative approaches with anti-malaria technology as well as subsequent financial resources. The eradication of malaria is worth all the efforts and history showed that once eradicated from an area, it rarely returns.

To achieve elimination, the mid-term goal might be to see the number of infected in 2015 (600 million) to decrease by half in 5 years. With developing countries investing much more resources on the fight against malaria, the old dynamic where international donors were the mainly source of financing is being replaced by a real collaboration. In that regards, the Gates foundation believes this could be “the best investments that humankind can make”.

Current control methods face important challenges due to mosquito’s and malaria parasite’s resistance to insecticides and available drugs. Researchers are looking at many different strategies and new tools. In that innovation effort, vector control technology is being developed to insure a successful outcome to this global campaign to end Malaria.

This week, Nature Biotech published an article co-written by several researchers including Austin Burt and Tony Nolan of Imperial College London, presenting the most recent advancement on a potential new vector control technology through genetics. For the first time, malaria mosquitoes have been modified to be infertile and pass on the trait rapidly – raising the possibility of reducing the spread of disease.

This team of researchers led by Imperial College London has genetically modified Anopheles gambiae (which is the major carrier of malaria parasites in sub-Saharan Africa) so that they carry a modified gene disrupting egg production in female mosquitoes. They used a technology called ‘gene drive’ to ensure the gene is passed down at an accelerated rate to offspring, spreading the gene through a population over time. Within a few years, the spread could drastically reduce or eliminate local populations of the malaria-carrying mosquito species.

Their findings represent an important step forward in the ability to develop novel methods of vector control. “As with any new technology, there are many more steps we will go through to test and ensure the safety of the approach we are pursuing. It will be at least 10 more years before gene drive malaria mosquitos could be a working intervention,” added Professor Austin Burt from Imperial’s Department of Life Sciences.

Many current measures to control malaria rely on reducing populations of malaria mosquitoes, such as insecticides and bed nets. These have proven very successful in reducing the spread of malaria, however these approaches face important costs and distribution challenges, as well as growing issues of resistance. A control measure relying on genetic spread through a targeted population of malaria mosquitoes could complement these interventions without adding dramatically to the health budget of resource-constrained countries.

Farming First Resources highlighting Youth in Agriculture

Farming First is producing a great series of resources, including multiple factsheets. We love the facts on youth:

  • The world’s population is young, with nearly 2.2 billion people under the age of 18. 85% of these youth are living in developing countries, with the majority in rural areas in sub-Saharan Africa, South-Central and South-East Asia, and Oceania. Source: FAO IFAD

  • Children are particularly sensitive to the impact of climate change, which directly affects their health. In Ethiopia and Kenya, two of the world’s most drought-prone countries, children aged five or under are respectively 36% and 50% more likely to be malnourished if they were born during a drought. Source: UNICEF

  • Undernutrition is a major risk co-factor for disease and contributes to a large burden of illness, especially amongst children. For every 10% increase in stunting, the proportion of children reaching the final grade of school dropped by almost 8%. At the same time, each year of schooling increases wages earned by almost 10%. Children who have been severely undernourished in early childhood suffer a later reduction in IQ by as many as 15 points, significantly affecting their schooling achievement. Source: UNSCN

  • Rural youth continue to suffer from disproportionately high levels of unemployment, underemployment and poverty. In 2012, close to 75 million young people worldwide were out of work. This resulted in a global youth unemployment rate almost three times the corresponding rate for adults. Furthermore, among those young people who were working, over 200 million were earning less than $2 USD per day. In Africa, the proportion of working youth earning less than $2USD per day is over 70%, many of whom were living in the continent’s economically stagnant rural areas. Source: CTA

  • Global population is expected to increase to 9 billion by 2050, with youth (aged 15–24) accounting for about 14% of this total. While the world’s youth cohort is expected to grow, employment and entrepreneurial opportunities for youth – particularly those living in developing countries’ economically stagnant rural areas – remain limited, poorly remunerated and of poor quality. Source: FAO

  • Up to 70% of the youth in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia live in rural areas. Over half of the youth in the labour force engage in agriculture. Source: ILO

Learn more on the Farming First website.

CCAFS at COP21: Climate Change, Agriculture, and Food Security

With the CGIAR system facing ridiculous cutbacks, and climate change looming large, there couldn’t be a more important time to focus on the great work of the Climate Change Agriculture and Food Security Research Program led by Bruce Campbell.
What will the Paris climate talks deliver for food and farming? It's a critical question, as the climate change agreement in Paris is not likely to address agriculture explicitly. Yet a new agreement can open the door to action on food security and agriculture. We are optimistic and see several ways forward beyond Paris. Read more in our brief analysis of Progress on Agriculture under the UN Climate Talks.

The good news is that countries are leading the way by including action on agriculture in their Intended Nationally Determined Commitments (INDCs). Our new analysis finds a vast majority of country-level climate plans prioritise agriculture, despite sector’s slow progress at UN negotiations. Read the press release and download the brief.

We're also optimistic about some of the initiatives that will be launched under the Lima-Paris Action Agenda on 1 December (Agriculture Action Day) including the 4/1000 initiative to restore soils and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.

Other key events at COP21 include Farmers Day  (2 December) and the Global Landscapes Forum (5-6 December). See the full list below. If you're not in Paris you can follow our blogTwitterLinkedIn or Facebook for updates. We look forward to good discussions so we can work together on implementing sustainable solutions.


Bruce Campbell
CCAFS Program Director

Jamie Oliver - TED Talk on Obesity and Food

I grew up with very little processed foods, not because my family is keen on healthy eating but because processed foods were simply not available yet. After moving to Canada from Russia, cooking from scratch was simply part of our lives.  Being immigrants we also found that cooking from scratch is often cheaper, not just healthier, than eating prepared and processed foods.  Because of this, I always knew my fruits and vegetables and what they look like.  This knowledge to me has always been “common sense”, that is until I came across an astonishing TED Talk video.

In this video, Chef Jamie Oliver talks in general about Obesity and Food, but there is one clip that really struck a nerve. At about 11 minutes and 15 seconds Chef Jamie Oliver speaks to a classroom of kids and shows how little our young North American generation knows what raw food looks like.  If you have the time please do spend 20 minutes and watch the full video as I found it quite informative, however if you only have a few seconds please start at 11 minutes and 15 seconds to watch the school clip.  I think you will be just as surprised by it as I was.  This video truly brings to light the importance of educating our young minds and teaching them about the importance of healthy eating, which I believe starts with the basic knowledge of the foods they eat, or at least should be eating.  Let us take the opportunity provided by the International Year of Pulses and teach our kids about the nutritional and health value that pulses offer us.

Watch the video here. 

COP21: It's Time to Eat for the Planet

This post originally appeared on Huffington Post Green.

With the world's leaders gathering in Paris to discuss how collective efforts can ensure that global warming does not rise above two degrees, farmers face the double challenge of how to feed a booming global population set to reach 9bn, while delivering a more sustainable agricultural system.

Though it may not always be prominent in the COP21 discussions, the critical role played by agriculture in many economies -- in terms of food security, economic opportunity and poverty reduction -- means agriculture is a key component of many national strategies for adaptation and mitigation.

The importance of COP21 to sustainable agriculture will be huge. Not least, because in developing countries, it will be small-scale farmers and farming families, who will be on the frontline battling rising temperatures, frequent droughts and food supply shortages across the globe triggered by climate change.

Faced with the complexities of climate change, science and politics, it is all too easy to turn away and carry on regardless -- especially, if you are lucky enough to live in the richer, developed world.

So, how can each of us tackle climate change?

My suggestion is review your diet. It's time to eat for the planet. What we eat sends a signal to the supply chain and helps create a more sustainable and healthier future for the world's people and the planet.

One food source which bridges being both healthy for people and the planet arepulses. These are likely to come to the fore with Government, policy makers and consumers next year.

The UN has declared 2016 the International Year of Pulses (IYP) because 'Pulses are a vital source of plant-based proteins and amino acids for people around the globe and should be eaten as part of a healthy diet to address obesity, as well as to prevent and help manage chronic diseases such as diabetes, coronary conditions and cancer'.

The UN also notes pulses, such as chickpeas, peas, beans and lentils, have nitrogen-fixing properties which can contribute to increasing soil fertility and have a positive impact on the environment'.

Pulses have a number of other environmental positives: they use less water than other protein sources, less fertilizer and have a low carbon footprint. New more resilient strains of pulse seed, like the white gold bean, which has been so successful in Ethiopia, have been developed to help farmers fight the impact of climate change.

Strategically, they are important to food security and nutrition agenda. Professor Mywish Maredia of Michigan State University has argued that pulses are "uniquely positioned" as a commodity group to tackle the many competing challenges facing the developing world, including adequate nutrition and health and also addressing environmental resource constraints and access issues.

In a world where 800m people are malnourished, pulses are nutrition dense and affordable foods, which are already part of many governments' food nutrition and security policies.

Unfortunately, despite their many widely acknowledged nutritional and environmental benefits of pulses, global consumption and production is not as high as it might be. Solving one of these things part is in the gift of each of us. So, if you want to play a (small) part in the Paris Convention, try eating your pulses, starting perhaps with the typically French Puy lentils in solidarity with France.

More recipes: http://www.pulses.org/recipes/