Robynne has extensive experience in the agriculture and food sector, working throughout the value chain – from basic inputs to farmers in the field to the grocery store shelf. She works internationally in the sector, including speaking at the United Nations on agriculture and food issues, and representing the International Agri-Food Network at the UN.Throughout her career she has worked with farm organisations like the Prairie Oat Growers Association, the National Smallholder Farmers Association of Malawi and the Himalayan Farmers Association, as well as global groups, to further the voice of agriculture in the food debate. She has also worked with Fortune 500 companies growing worldwide businesses to assist them with issues management and strategy decisions.

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.

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.

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

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

PulseFeast2

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)

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.

Regards,

Bruce Campbell
CCAFS Program Director

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/