Coronavirus and the Impact on Food Systems

“Let’s clap for the farmers, food processors, retailers, delivery services, restaurateurs who are feeding us during the pandemic crisis”

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The Future of Farming - Harnessing Digital Technologies for Ag Extension and Advisory Services

Today’s farmer lives in unprecedented times. From volatile commodity markets as a result of natural shocks from weather, pests and diseases, to the climate crisis that is increasing calls for radical transformation in food systems, there is uncertainty about the future of agriculture. Farmers today must transform their thinking to effectively respond to the challenges facing agriculture and continue feeding a growing world population – and one that is also in a crisis. With the current challenges, the next agricultural revolution is imminent.

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The Interlinks of Climate Change and Water

World Water Day is set for March 22. The UN calls upon all to recognize this basic commodity as an integral part of the Universe. True to its core, water is essentially part of everything from sustaining life, to being a utility in building infrastructure.

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Working Remotely

In 2010, I founded Emerging ag and felt then there was no need for an office and I’ve never looked longingly at conventional space. The virtual office approach has allowed me to engage some of the most talented people from around the world and all 20 of us really enjoy working together. So, in these times, here are a few ideas based on our experiences.

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Unravelling the Root Causes of Obesity on World Obesity Day

The roots of obesity run deep.

People who suffer from obesity are constantly shamed and blamed for their disease. This is because many people - including doctors, policy makers and others - do not understand that obesity is a chronic disease. They see it as a simple lack of willpower, laziness, or a refusal to “eat less and move more”. But like all chronic diseases, the root causes of obesity run much deeper. They can be genetic, psychological, sociocultural, economic and environmental. It is time we break the cycle of shame and blame and reevaluate our approach for addressing this complex, chronic disease that affects 650 million people worldwide.

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UN75: A Toast to Multilateralism

Multilateralism – a 15 letter word that is getting a 75-year anniversary. The United Nations hits 75 at a moment when the world should be most reminded of the need for peace, stability and cooperation. Whether it is the role of the World Health Organisation of the UN to help coordinate response to coronavirus, or the leadership of emergency response in the face of a plague of locusts in Eastern Africa by the Food and Agriculture Organisation, or the front line efforts of the World Food Programme in Yemen, the world is better for trying to tackle tough problems together.

Just like climate change, these aren’t easy problems. The UN is often skewered for being ineffective, but let’s be realistic, if an issue is at the UN, it is already a thorny difficult global one. It is a little like…

“Many forms of Government have been tried and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.…”

Winston S Churchill, 11 November 1947

The UN was born out of World War II. On 24 October 1945, 51 nations came together to establish the UN to prevent another war, forming a new organization for world peace. Today, with a membership of 193 states, the UN has evolved into an agency not only for achieving world peace but also increasing cooperation among the nations to tackle some of the world’s most pressing needs. The UN’s work today covers a myriad of issues such as peace and security, climate change, sustainable development, human rights, disarmament, terrorism, humanitarian and health emergencies, gender equality, governance, food production, and more.

Its hard to imagine where we would be with the discussions on biodiversity without the Rio Conference, over 30 years ago, when issues of sustainability were first raised. Or as concerning as COVID-19 is, imagine a world without WHO’s efforts to coordinate a response at a global level. 

As it hits its 75th anniversary, we should all pause to be thankful for multilateralism. Without question, the world is in an imperfect place, but it is certainly better for having coordinated attempts to address its challenges than none at all. For as much as we see challenges, the world is improved compared to when it came out of World War II. Perhaps shoring up its most vital institution of global cooperation is the best investment we can make to regain lost ground of the past few years.

The rational reaction to increasing numbers of hungry, geopolitical conflict, coronavirus, and the state of our oceans is to improve the UN and be thankful for the gains made to date on women’s literacy, global poverty, and identifying planetary boundaries. 

UN 75 Anniversary

October 24 has been celebrated as the United Nations Day and is observed by member states as a public holiday. To mark its 75th anniversary, the UN has adopted the theme ‘2020 and  Beyond: Shaping our future together’ and is planning to host the largest global conversation on the role of global cooperation in building the future we want. Throughout the year, the UN will work with partners to initiate dialogues within and across borders, sectors and generations. The aim is to reach as many people as possible: to listen to their hopes and fears; learn from their experiences; and empower them to think and act globally. You can be part of the conversation by following the hashtag #UN75 and using the Media Toolkit.

East Africa Food Security: Harnessing New Technologies for Desert Locust Control

Seven East African countries have been plagued by a deadly desert locust invasion exposing the already “severely food insecure” region to a possible humanitarian crisis. This is the worst invasion in the region in the last 25 years and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is appealing to donors to raise $76 million to control the invasion. The $76 million only represents the amount required to control the pest and does not account for harvest losses and other impacts. If not well managed, the figure could multiply. Between 2003 and 2005, the world experienced a major locust plague that cost more than half a billion dollars to control and more than $2.5 billion in harvest losses.

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How Manitoba Protects One of its Greatest Assets: Family Farms

Manitoba is an agricultural hub in Canada, with over 14,700 farms and 17.6 million acres in operation according to the 2016 Census of Agriculture. As such, farming is an essential way of life for many Manitobans. Farmers in Manitoba have special legislative protection intended to prevent creditors from seizing and selling farmland without giving the farmer a reasonable opportunity to repay their debt.  A Family Farm Protection Act was first created in 1986 to help make small farms more economically viable and promote healthy local rural economies. This act helps level the playing field and eliminates special treatment of large-scale farm operations. If a creditor fails to follow the proper procedures, any action taken by the creditor to enforce its security will be considered void. A Family Farm Protection Act outlines the steps creditors must take in order to enforce security against farmers.

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Canadian Chamber of Commerce Launches Working Group to Grow Our Country's Agriculture and Agri-Food Sector

Ottawa, ON - February 11, 2020 - The Canadian Chamber of Commerce launched its Agriculture and Agri-Food Working Group today to support the industry’s ability to grow and reach new customers. The Working Group will reflect the Canadian Chamber’s role as the country’s largest business association by representing all segments of the agriculture and agri-food value chain from farm to fork across sectors.

The Working Group will initially focus on regulatory reform, international trade, and labour shortages as three key areas where our country needs to improve the business environment if we are to reach our full potential as a global agricultural powerhouse.

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You’ve Got What They Want: Protein Market Growth Helps Advance Pulse Opportunities Globally

The Evolving Debate on Sustainable Diets and Demand for Pulses

The debate on sustainable healthy diets has recently gained momentum, and the pulses market stands to gain significantly as the evolving definition of sustainable diets strongly advocates for more plant-based diets for a healthier planet. While food and healthy diets have traditionally been discussed within the confines of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO), the subject is now finding its way into non-traditional venues such as the United Nations Environment Assembly and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) which are now looking up to sustainable food systems as part of the solution to tackling climate change.

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