Conservation and the Coronavirus: The Virus Threatens Efforts to Preserve Biodiversity

Writing in less interesting times, the UN Environment Programme announced that 2020 would be a “super year for nature and biodiversity”, as well as a “crunch year for the biodiversity and climate emergencies”. There was certainly no lack of ambition, with scheduled summits including meetings of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical, and Technological Advice (SBSTTA) and the Subsidiary Body on Implementation (SBI) of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), a UN Ocean Conference, a Summit on Biodiversity in the margins of the General Assembly, and a World Conservation Congress organized by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The outcomes of all of these meetings would inform a Global Biodiversity Conference (also serving as the Conference of the Parties to the CBD) which would set out a Post-2020 Biodiversity Framework to underpin international conservation efforts for the next decade.

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A Numbers Game: What More Women in Agriculture Means

Agriculture, like other sectors, has faced gender disparity for a long time with the lack of accurate data failing to paint a clear picture of the proportion of women engaging in agriculture. For quite some time, there was a myth that claimed women accounted for 60 to 80 percent of global food production but only owned 2 percent of the world’s land. This myth was discredited by Agnes Quisumbing and collaborators who carried out various gender-specific studies and found that “the proportion of land controlled by women in Africa, south of the Sahara is closer to 22 percent.”

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Re-imagining Team Retreats

If you have been following the Emerging ag blogs, you may recall that twice a year we bring our international team together for a week of meetings, team building and fun. Between the twenty team members we cover nine countries. This past March we were meant to gather in Nairobi but, like so many others, due to the COVID-19 pandemic our plans were changed.

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Embracing the Goodness of Dairy Around the World

Milk consumption dates back to the 5th century AD where cows and sheep were prized for their milk production. Archaeologists from the University of York identified a milk protein, called beta-lactoglobulin (BLG), placed in the mineralized dental inscription of seven people who lived in the new stone age period. This shows that humans have been drinking animal milk for at least 6,000 years. 

In the current era, some of the best and most famous delicacies all over the world are prepared using milk as an ingredient. 

In Africa in particular, it is believed that the ability to digest milk co-evolved with livestock domestication as depicted by a geneticist at the University of Pennsylvania. (Read more). 

Baked beans with milk are a common delicacy in East Africa. In regions such as the ranching farmlands of southern Kenya, milk is literally added into every meal that does not include meat. 

Europe is also a huge consumer of milk products as well. Italy created the well-known frozen dessert, Gelato, which is made with dairy. For many, Gelato is a simple way to appreciate the rich taste of milk. 

Dairy has also played a significant role in cooking and baking in North America. Aunt Sally, Florida's first self-made millionaire, made the first Key lime pie in the late 1800s using majorly sweetened condensed milk and lime juice. During the world wars, biscuits were traditionally made with milk as an ingredient as it was cheap and nutritious and therefore served to soldiers to keep them going during hard days in the field.<

Milk is an important source of nutrients that must continue to be embraced all over the world. In 2001, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) chose June 1st as a day of celebration for milk lovers all over the world. It is also a day to raise awareness of how the dairy sector is contributing to the world’s economic development, livelihoods, nutrition, and environmental sustainability. This day is known as World Milk Day and is celebrated all globally under the hashtags #WorldMilkDay and #EnjoyDairy. 

Come June 1st, join me among others in celebrating the world’s most important nourishment. 

The Sixth Avena Canadiense Oat Recipe Contest Will Open May 1, 2020

Each year, Avena Canadiense, on behalf of the Prairie Oat Growers Association, hosts an online oat-based recipe contest for consumers based in Mexico. Followers of the Avena Canadiense Facebook page are asked to submit their recipes to the website for a chance to win cash prizes, have their recipes featured on the website, and their recipe published in the annual recipe book.

With COVID-19 requiring us to stay home, cooking new and exciting healthy recipes has never been more topical! It is very easy to participate and does not require expert cooking skill-levels. All you are required to do is create a unique recipe using oats, take a photo of it, and submit it to the website!

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Promoting COVID-19 Prevention Around the World

Scientific Animations Without Borders (SAWBO), in partnership with the Residential College in Arts and Humanities based out of Michigan State University is excited to be able to promote their new video “Protecting Yourself Against Coronavirus.” SAWBO is hoping to make their video available for people across the world. Currently the video is available in twenty-two languages. 

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Nobody Should Die from a Mosquito Bite: World Malaria Day - Zero Malaria Starts With Me

This World Malaria Day, organizations and individuals are called upon to support the global malaria community to ensure no one dies from a mosquito bite. As the world struggles to respond to COVID-19, there is a significant risk that prevention and treatment programs for malaria will be disrupted.

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COVID-19 and Food Security: Supply Chains must not Stop

The COVID-19 pandemic reminds us of the primacy of access to food for food security. The immediate problem has been access to food and the need for shelf-stable foods. Disruption at borders and supply chains will have a medium term and longer if there are challenges getting the inputs into the ground or the harvest off next growing season.

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Why Governments Need to Adapt Policies that Cater for the Vulnerably Aged Sections of the Populations

Older men and women are frequently unnoticed when collecting, analyzing and presenting statistical data. This non-inclusive approach to data collection and reporting biases disfavors the vulnerable aged populations. Yet, by the year 2050, 20% of the global population will be 60 and above. This presents both challenges and opportunities for implementation of the SDGs and calls for amendments and integration of policies and services to respond to the changing age structure and population. For all to benefit equally and “leave no one behind” as called by the United Nations, governments are encouraged to adopt age-friendly policies that realize older people’s rights, opinions and tackle ageism. It is essential for multilateral agencies to research, design and report guidelines for inclusive policy development and implementation.

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The Future of Food Systems

As we prepare for the Food Systems Summit next year, we have a great opportunity to reflect and set a path to the sustainable food system we all want for the future. As part of this effort, we must find a way to work together, instead of spending time propagating false dichotomies that permeate food systems discussions. Rural versus urban, farmers versus consumers, hunger versus obesity, food versus planet – these conversations ignore the interrelationships and the impossibility that any can survive without the other.  We are all part of the same system. It’s about making different pieces work together for a diverse food system, capable of supporting nutrition, biodiversity and farmers’ needs.

It was a pleasure to work with Henry Gordon Smith’s team at Agritecture and be part of their timely Digital Conference Series available here.

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