World Food Day: Building the Zero Hunger Generation

On October 16 the world will celebrate World Food Day, a global movement to end hunger. This year’s theme is “Climate is changing. Food and agriculture must too”. The FAO wants to give an opportunity to university students to join global efforts to achieve Zero Hunger.

In September 2015, 193 countries adopted the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and in doing so, committed to end hunger by 2030. The next step is to unite efforts and work together towards this goal - governments, international organizations, the private sector, academia, farmers, and also the general public all have a role to play.

Without addressing climate change, this important goal cannot be reached. Climate change is affecting the health of our planet and changing our world. It is causing more natural disasters and environmental problems, which make it harder for us to grow food.  In order to feed a growing population set to reach 9.6 billion by the year 2050, we will have to learn to grow what we need in a sustainable way.

Students and young farmers are the Zero Hunger Generation. We must encourage them to take lead in ending hunger by 2030. The more we engage them in the dialogue surrounding their future and stimulate their thoughts and opinions, the more we can prepare them to tackle climate change and world hunger.

This is why FAO is encouraging participation in the 2016 World Food Day. There are many ways to participate, including:

  • Share this message with university faculty or student associations
  • Participating in the World Food Day poster contest for 5 to 19 year olds
  • Participating in the World Food Day video contest for 13-19 year olds
  • Use FAO World Food Day posters, brochures, activity book, and social media materials to create an interactive learning environment for World Food Day
  • Promote activities through social media with the hashtag #WFD2016
  • Organize an event to raise awareness of World Food Day and the climate change theme

Learn more about World Food Day, and the exciting opportunities ahead here.

 

Tackling Malaria Through Innovation

The ability to create innovative products is essential for improved living. One of the most compelling challenges we face is malaria. About 3.4 billion people - half the world’s population - are at risk of malaria. In Africa, a child dies every 2 MINUTES from malaria. In addition to deaths, the social and economic costs from the illness are huge, estimated at $12 billion a year in Africa alone.

It is my pleasure to note that Target Malaria is nominated for the “Moonshot” award by Wired. Target Malaria is a not-for-profit consortium aiming to reduce the population of malaria-transmitting mosquitoes in sub-Saharan Africa. By reducing the population of malaria mosquitoes, they can reduce the transmission of the disease. You can vote here to support them and other innovators in this category (second award grouping).

Innovation is something that should be encouraged and celebrated in every sector. The Wired Audi Innovation Awards promote teams and individuals striving to break down barriers in whatever sector they’re working in.

In February 2016, scientist Astor Teller laid out the principles of the “Moonshot” philosophy. A moonshot, he said, should be firstly about solving “a huge problem in the world that affects many millions of people” - like malaria. Second, a moonshot should not settle for half-baked measures: it has to provide a “radical solution” that can do away with the problem for good. The last criterion, Teller explained, is the reasonable expectation that technology can actually solve the problem. Moonshots should be as much about pragmatism as they are about dreaming. Target Malaria incorporates all of this criteria, and excels in its field. Not only is this a cutting-edge research project, but it also has the potential to save millions of lives.

Specifically, the Target Malaria team is researching approaches that can reduce the numbers of mosquitoes that spread malaria. By reducing the population of the malaria mosquito, (a very specific beast called Anopheles), they are able to combat transmission of the disease. Their strategy relies on reducing the number of female malaria mosquitoes. Only female Anopheles gambiae transmit the disease, and a reduction in the number of females limits reproduction and the future population size, therefore dropping the transmission of malaria. This approach is expected to be complementary to other mosquito control methods, easy and inexpensive to implement, because the mosquitoes themselves do the work of stopping malaria. The control method would be a long-term, sustainable, and cost effective solution to prevent malaria.

 

Sustainable Livestock, Sustainable Lives

On July 20th, I had the opportunity to attend the International Livestock Research Institutes side event and the UN’s High Level Political Forum in New York. The side event was titled Sustainable Livestock, Sustainable Lives and it explored how to give livestock its rightful place in the SDG agenda. It highlighted how collaborations between researchers, government, farmers, civil society and the private sector contributes to support the livestock sector by creating sustainable, diverse and nutrition-enhancing food systems to end hunger and all forms of malnutrition, as well as supporting and promoting sustainable livestock and healthy diets.

Livestock is frequently a portal of entry for the landless and poor to economic production and household security. Domestic animals perform critical development functions through their contribution to nutritious diets, economic growth, poverty alleviation, and improved rural livelihoods. More than 1 billion people’s livelihoods depend on the livestock sector. Demand for animal-source products is expected to grow approximately twofold globally, and even more in low-income and emerging economies. Animal-source products - such as meat, dairy, and eggs – provide vital nutrition, particularly in the context of child and maternal health.

In order to be sustainable in its growth, the livestock sector needs to support livelihoods, contribute to enhancing economic and social well-being, protect public and animal health through the reduction of health threats to and from livestock, sustain natural resources and contribute to climate change mitigation. Livestock relates directly or indirectly to all SDGs. It most specifically helps deliver every target in Goal 2 of Food security, nutrition and sustainable agriculture, as well as furthering Goal 1 in the fight against poverty, and Goal 3 on health. The Sustainable Development Goals are only achievable with the inclusion of livestock. To make the most of such opportunities, there is an urgent need to consult the livestock sector, increase awareness of policy-relevant investment needs and opportunities relating to the sector, and orienting policies, partnerships and investment in appropriate ways.

 

Request for Proposal For a Consultant to Co-ordinate Development of a 10-Year Research Strategy for Pulse Crops

Emerging ag inc is soliciting proposals from qualified suppliers to assist in coordinating the development of a 10-Year Research Strategy for in the context of the 2016 International Year of Pulses.

The supplier will work closely with Emerging ag inc in development of the strategy.  In the context of the International Year of Pulses, Emerging ag inc acts as Secretariat to the Global Pulse Confederation which has convened a Productivity and Sustainability Committee comprised of experts from many pulse institutions.  The group has helped to frame the scope of the report and assisted in the development of a list of experts.  It will be available as advisors through the process of developing the project.

Emerging ag inc will co-ordinate communications and activities for the champions programme related to this project.

Potential suppliers should demonstrate previous experience in a similar role.  A doctorate is preferred in agricultural sciences or nutrition.  Experience in pulses is desirable.    

All proposals must be received by 5:00 pm Mountain Daylight Time on August 29, 2016.   

Proposals and all enquiries are to be submitted via email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Emerging ag inc. reserves the right to reject any or all proposals, as well as to accept the proposal which will be to the best advantage, as determined at the sole discretion of Emerging ag inc.

Review the full Request for Proposal 10 Year Research Strategy here. 

First-Ever National Academy of Sciences Prize Dedicated to Food and Agriculture Sciences Established by the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research with Support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Beginning in 2017, the National Academy of Sciences will recognize one annual recipient for an extraordinary contribution to agriculture or to the understanding of the biology of species fundamentally important to agriculture or food production. This fantastic award is jointly supported by the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Establishing the NAS Prize in Food and Agriculture Sciences is part of FFAR’s efforts to elevate food and agriculture research in the scientific arena and highlight the critical need for scientists working toward more productive, sustainable agriculture and better health through nutritious food. 

Nominations for 2017 are now open, with a deadline of October 3rd, 2016. Mid-career researchers at U.S. institutions may be nominated online. “Mid-career” is defined as up to 20 years since Ph.D. completion. The Prize may also be shared by one or more individuals for a collaborative accomplishment. For the purpose of the prize, areas of science with applications to agriculture include the following:

  • Plant and animal sciences
  • Microbiology
  • Nutrition and food science
  • Soil science
  • Entomology
  • Veterinary medicine
  • Agricultural economics

 

Election of the UN Secretary General

With Ban Ki-Moon’s term as Secretary General wrapping up, the selection process has been in full swing. The leadership shown by Mogens Lykketoft, President of the UN General Assembly, to increase transparency in the process is laudable. The webcast sessions to introduce candidates to member states and the world is a leap forward from the process being confined to the Security Council members.

Another innovation has been to allow civil society to contribute questions to the candidates via a process facilitated by UN-NGLS.  Details from UN-NGLS are below:

More than 1500 questions from nearly 100 countries have been submitted since the process began at the end of February. From among these, each candidate has been asked 2-3 unique questions during their UN General Assembly dialogue. In addition, two were used during the 12 July debate with 10 candidates in UN General Assembly Hall, and the President of the General Assembly posted 10 of the questions on his web site, requesting all candidates to respond to them.

The civil society questions asked during the UN General Assembly dialogues with individual candidates, along with the candidates' responses, may be viewed here:

The two civil society questions used during the 12 July debate in UN General Assembly Hall (broadcast live by Al Jazeera and UN Web TV) along with candidate responses, may be viewed here: 

The 10 questions for all candidates posted on the President of the General Assembly's web site may be viewed here, along with responses from 4 of the candidates so far.

To view all questions received, and learn more about the process, including how the questions were selected, please visit the UN-NGLS website.

Time Flies...

Well as the old adage goes “times flies when you are having fun”. It is hard to believe that it has already been over a month since I joined the amazing team here at Emerging ag inc. 

My Emerging ag journey has been a constant learning experience on a multitude of levels. Working with a virtual team that is positioned around the globe is new for me, I am discovering a whole new side to the agriculture industry than I have previously been exposed to and at times I feel like I am learning a new language as I decode all of the acronyms that are used on a daily basis. 

July was an incredible blending of old and new professional experiences as I began my Emerging ag career I also participated in the event coordination of some grassroots livestock events during the annual Westerner Days Exposition, blending the two very different aspects of the agriculture industry was a unique experience. One minute my focus was on sire and dam information of purebred cattle and the next minute I was reviewing an RSVP list that includes high level dignitaries from around the global.  From Red Deer to Rome in the blink of an eye, how exciting!  

I am truly enjoying being surrounded by such a supportive, passionate and driven group of people who are truly invested in making a positive difference around the world. I am excited to have the opportunity to meet the team members in person in the coming weeks as we congregate for our team meeting sessions being held here in Calgary. 

Looking to the future I am excited to continue my journey of learning and I look forward to being able to contribute to the continued success of the Emerging ag upcoming events and projects. 

 

Partnership Forum on Livestock: Final Report now available online

At its 41st session in October 2014, the UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS) requested the High-Level Panel of Experts (HLPE) to prepare a study on Sustainable Agricultural Development for Food Security and Nutrition: What Roles for Livestock? Ahead of the launch of this report launch, the Private Sector Mechanism to the CFS and the Government of Argentina co-hosted a Partnership Forum on Livestock on June 30 at the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) in Rome, Italy.

Over 65 participants were in attendance, including over 20 permanent representations of member states to the UN Rome-Based Agencies, senior UN officials, members of the Private Sector Mechanism, NGOs and academics. The event was framed in the context of the upcoming negotiations that will take place at the UN Committee on World Food Security on Livestock.

The event started with a keynote address by Dr Jimmy Smith, Director General of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI). Smith believes that livestock should be viewed not as a problem to be fixed but as part of many solutions to many global problems. His address was reported on the ILRI website here. The event also showcased two additional keynote presentations and a set of rapid fire presentations highlighting projects undertaken by the private sector in order to improve the sustainability of the livestock sector and its contributions to food security and nutrition. A total of 27 presentations were made at the event.

See the final report from the 2016 PSM Partnership Forum on Livestock here.

IFT16: Winners get the opportunity to share their pulse innovations at the largest food technology event of the year!

I was given the opportunity to attend the International Food Technology conference in Chicago, IL, USA last week. The events drew a crowd of 23,000 food scientists, technologists, agriculturalists and foodies.

I was there to support Pulse Canada, the American Pulse Association, USA Dry Pea and Lentil Council, and the Global Pulse Confederation put on the LovePulses Product Showcase. Winners from the National Competitions, and winners from the Virtual Competition presented their products to a crowd of over 100. Offering samples and cooking demonstrations, the winning teams captivated the audience for their hour long session at the Cooking Up Science booth. It was so great to see these students taking advantage of the opportunity to present their hard work to relevant industry members.

The teams who presented their products include:

  • Charlotte Reynolds, for her Blooming Food Lupin Crisps from the UK
  • Phindile Jane Tsela, for her Bean Jam from Swaziland
  • Tushar Kaushik, Shardul Dabir, Yash Naresh Gajwani, NIFTEM, for their FMP Chips (Flax, Millets and Pulse Chips) from India
  • Chandre Van De Merwe, Austen Neil, Nicolle Mah for their BiotaGelata from Canada
  • Steven Ross, Yuda Ou, Audrey Boeken, for their Southwestern Vegan Black Eyed Pea and Chickpea Enchilada with Salsa Verde and Rocky Mountain Succotash from the USA
  • Hannah Dressen, Shakira Abu Samah, Payton Irlbeck, Joe Quinlan, for their Southwest Street Tacos, from the USA
  • Charlize Snyman and Naomi Cutler for their Coconut Chickpea Cookie from Australia

Learn more about the teams, watch their YouTube videos, and read their blogs here.

All of the student’s samples were eaten and mentioned many times while exploring the convention afterwards. In addition to the presentation, the students were given the opportunity to connect with media outlets to share their stories with the world. So far, the live articles can be found on the Huffington Post here:

More teams are in contact with their local media outlets, with pieces going live both online and through radio outlets! Follow @LovePulses for additional event coverage.

The whole presentation was filmed, and will be made available on the IFT website soon.

Read the press release on iyp2016.org.

No one left behind: Livestock at the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development

The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) participated in this week’s UN High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development. This is the first of many meetings and processes that will take place to monitor progress in meeting the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Shirley Tarawali, assistant director general of ILRI, was in New York this week to take part in a livestock-focused side meeting, which took place on July 20, 2016. Tarawali is passionate about the forum theme “No one left behind”, as well as passionate that “livestock” not be left behind in the may agendas being put forward to meet the 17 goals.

Tarawali was one of five panel members who gave a short talk to frame the discussion.

Read the essay based on Tarawali’s presentation at the livestock event here.