The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World (SOFI 2019) launched at the HLPF in New York

The launch of the 2019 State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World (SOFI 2019) report was one of the key moments at the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF 2019 under the auspices of ECOSOC) currently ongoing in New York City.

SOFI 2019 paints a grim picture with concerns that the Zero Hunger target (SDG2) may not be achieved as world hunger rises for the third year in a row. There were 821 million people critically undernourished in the world last year, a rise from 811 million in 2017. In their pre-launch statement, FAO’s DG José Graziano da Silva and Máximo Torero (Assistant Director-General for the Economic and Social Development Department at FAO) highlighted the urgency to improve nutrition and fast-track food security for all, noting that “the Zero Hunger goal is not simply to eradicate hunger but also to ensure access by all people to safe, nutritious and sufficient food all year round and to end all forms of malnutrition.”

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Enjoy Dairy Rally and World Milk Day 2019 Celebrations and Key Metrics

World Milk Day was established by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in 2001 to recognize the importance of milk as a global food. 

The 2019 celebrations were a huge success with over 664 million social media impressions and 426 events in 68 countries. 107 countries featured World Milk Day activity through May 29 - June 1, 2019. 

To help create a positive stream of conversation in advance of the celebration, this year Global Dairy Platform coordinated the Enjoy Dairy Rally from May 29-31, culminating in World Milk Day on June 1. Through social and traditional media as well as hundreds of events, the benefits of milk and dairy products were actively promoted, including how dairy supports the livelihoods of one billion people around the world.

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A Crop Whose Time has Come

This article was originally posted in the IPGA Pulse India magazine. Download the magazine here.

Pulses have never been so relevant. Celebrated in the EAT-Lancet report and the newly declared World Pulses Day – peas, lentils, chickpeas and other pulses are riding a wave of growing attention.  For India, pulses are a timeless part of the diet, but in many other countries, pulses are part of a growing trend to focus on plant-based proteins. 

What we eat sends a signal to the supply chain and the signal is about pulses as a sustainable part of the food basket.  While the discussion of meat lately has not fairly reflected the disparity in developed and developing countries, certainly pulses are part of a more sustainable and healthier future. 

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Emerging ag in Kenya: Farm Tours & Palmhouse Dairies

The Emerging team met in Kenya last month for our semi-annual team meeting. With the picturesque setting of Mount Kenya, 19 team members got together to discuss our many projects. We use this time to get input from different team members on certain issues they may not work closely on year-round. This adds new perspectives and value to our clients. 

After three days of meetings, a smaller group from the team took two days to tour multiple smallholder dairy farms in Kiambu and Kerugoya, rural areas just outside of Nairobi. These tours gave us an idea of the various challenges’ farmers face in Kenya, including access to resources (Kenya is in the midst of a drought) and waste management. 

In addition to farm tours, we were given a tour of Palmhouse Dairies, a dairy processing plant based in Githunguri. Owned and operated by Margaret Munene, Palmhouse Dairies creates milk and yoghurt products distributed in Nairobi.

Margaret is incredibly passionate about her work, which I believe played an important role in her success. She was raised in Kiambu where her mother was a small-scale dairy farmer who kept cows mainly for subsistence. Margaret studied Agriculture and Crop Protection and worked at the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) at the start of her career. When Margaret got married, she and her husband bought a few cows. This re-sparked an interest in dairy that begun when she was young.  She spent her hours before work milking her cows and distributing her milk. Her dedication to her cows was her passion, and she eventually decided to leave her employment and focus on dairy fulltime. Palmhouse Dairies was set up in 1996 in response to the liberalization of the milk sector in Kenya. Prior to the setup period, milk processing was the preserve of the then Giant Kenya Co-operative Creameries (K.C.C) and there were regular milk shortages in the country. The factory was originally set up to process 500 litres of milk per day and has now grown to produce 10,000 litres a day. Growing from a small dairy farm to a dairy processing plant is no easy feat and proof-positive that Margaret is passionate, hardworking and meant to be where she is. 

Palmhouse Dairies has made Githunguri a small dairy-hub of sorts, with multiple processing plants based beside each other. In 2003, in addition to providing Nairobi with delicious dairy products, Margaret and her husband Eric Kimani started the “Palmhouse Foundation”. Initially, they set out to assist needy families and farmers who were supplying milk to Palmhouse Dairies in Githunguri. The support was unstructured and based purely on the desperate cases presented by farmers from the area. Their mission today is “to finance the secondary education of deserving students and mentor them through life”. The foundation started by selecting and supporting 6 students and has grown to over 700 students in 2018. Over 90% of these students secure university/college entry. 

After meeting Margaret and her husband, I left Kenya humbled and inspired. It was a reminder that there is always more you can do for those with fewer resources. I encourage all of you to learn more about their foundation here.

How to hold a World Milk Day event on June 1st, 2019

Since 2001, June 1st, World Milk Day has been observed by the United Nations. It was initiated by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) to mark the importance of dairy. World Milk Day focuses on raising public awareness about the importance of milk as part of a healthy and balanced diet and as an agricultural product. It also aims to highlight the significance of the milk sector and milk producers, in particular, the one billion people around the world who derive their livelihoods from the dairy sector. 

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Nominations for the World Food Prize are open until May 1

If you know an outstanding individual working to make hunger history – why not nominate them for the biggest accolade in agriculture?

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World Ocean Summit 2019

Tiare Boyes is a youth ocean leader. She is the Executive Director at B.C Tuna Fisherman's Association and Founder of Leeward Consulting Ltd. 

 The Economist’s World Ocean Summit was hosted in Abu Dhabi this year with the theme ‘building bridges’.

Many governmental representatives, corporations, NGOs and scientists were in attendance from around the world. While there was a youth contingency, they were largely absent from many of the events. Last year youth in marine fields were asked to present at short intervals between discussions, which was a highlight as many bright young ideas were shared and it was easy to recognize the youth and be able to speak with them during the networking events.

It was interesting to visit Abu Dhabi and learn of some of the ongoing ocean initiatives underway in the Gulf of Persia. It was wonderful to meet local representatives and to learn some of the unique local challenges facing desert/ocean cities.

Investing in the blue economy was a topic well covered at this event, with many perspectives shared. Farah Obaidulla representing Women4Oceans, detailed the imbalance of women’s representation in many marine sectors “we are not doing a good job of tapping into half of our populations resources to positively impact ocean health”. She called for better engagement with women scientists, educators and mariners. Þór Sigfusson highlighted the importance of utilizing the entirety of fish, not just the fillets, through innovative programs developing medical or cosmetic applications for fish skin and other parts often considered ‘waste’. He suggested this is an excellent opportunity for youth to become more engaged with fisheries outside the traditional harvesting or processing jobs.

Plastic pollution was also a focus of this year’s event, as many speakers highlighted the prevalence of plastic pollution in our oceans. Suggestions for approaching the problem were diverse, similar to the marine environments plastic is now found in. During the keynote panel: corporate impact, on the last day of the event, Andrew Forrest, Founder of Minderoo Foundation, declared it was time to start taxing polymer to reduce the production. Others had innovative ideas for cleaning up existing plastics while some presented dire statistics about worldwide consumption and the limits to recycling facilities.

Peter Thomson, Special Envoy for the Ocean, had a different message, he stated “ocean plastics, overfishing and pollution are all very fixable problems, too often people fixate on them. The bigger issues are ocean acidification, warming and de-oxygenation”. This struck a note with me being from a fisheries background and being passionate about sustainable seafood systems. We often feel as if we are fighting against unsolvable problems with ocean pollution and overfishing, however, we have the tools to fix them but lack motivation and funding. The larger problems resulting from climate change are much more serious and much more difficult to solve.

The highlight of the event for me as an avid diver and amateur photographer was the presentation by Laurent Ballesta, naturalist photographer, detailing his quest to photograph the elusive and mysterious coelacanth or ‘living fossil’ fish in deep waters off the coast of South Africa. His fabulous photos of a fish once thought lost to the fossil record are a reminder that our ocean still holds mysteries and opportunities for discoveries. It is also a reminder that we still cannot fathom what we stand to lose if climate change is not taken seriously at all levels of society.

GBA4E High-Level Dinner: Innovative & Sustainable Business Solutions

On March 12, 2019, at the Fourth United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA4), The Global Business Alliance for the Environment held its first High Level Dinner, welcoming more than 80 guests.

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United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA4)

Preparations for the fourth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA4) kicked off on March 4 with the Fourth Open-Ended Meeting of the Committee of Permanent Representatives (OECPR) negotiating over 30 resolutions which will be presented to the assembly for adoption. The theme of UNEA4 is ‘Innovative Solutions for Environmental Challenges & Sustainable Consumption and Production.’ The three focus areas are: environmental challenges related to poverty and natural resources management, including sustainable food systems, food security and halting biodiversity loss; life-cycle approaches to resource efficiency, energy, chemicals and waste management; and innovative sustainable business development at a time of rapid technological change.

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The Legacy of Pulses: #WorldPulsesDay

Thanks to the formidable leadership of Burkina Faso, the Second Committee of the 73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) adopted, by consensus, in November 2018 a draft resolution establishing 10 February as World Pulses Day (WPD). The establishment of this day will be a lasting legacy of the enormously successful 2016 International Year of Pulses. World Pulses Day is a new opportunity to heighten public awareness of the nutritional benefits of eating pulses! Read the UN General Assembly (UNGA) resolution here. World Pulses Day is meant to also reaffirm the contribution of pulses for sustainable agriculture and achieving the 2030 Agenda.

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