Keeping Agriculture in the Climate Change Discussion

As I look back on 2016, it seems fair to state it was a tumultuous year. We saw Brexit, Trump, Duterte, economic slowdown in China, global unrest, and so much more. Alberta (my home province) was no exception. In 2015, the 40 year reign of our conservative party ended and was replaced with the New Democratic Party (NDP) of Alberta. It wasn’t really until 2016 that we saw the NDP government begin to develop and implement their new policy and legislation. This, combined with a new liberal federal government in Canada has led to an unprecedented political landscape in Alberta. Recently, our new government has implemented a carbon levy. For context, Alberta is known in Canada as oil country, this industry accounting for almost 20% of Alberta’s GDP1. And as such, we have higher greenhouse gas emissions than the average province, the highest to be exact2. As of Monday this week, a carbon levy is now being charged on all fuels that emit greenhouse gas emissions when combusted at a rate of $20/tonne in 2017 and $30/tonne in 20183. The rate is based on the amount of carbon pollution released by the fuel when it's combusted, not on the mass of fuel itself. It is important to note that the Canadian federal government is implementing a minimum nationwide price starting at $10 per tonne in 2018 and increasing to $50 per tonne by 2022. So this carbon levy would impact Alberta whether or not the NDP government implemented it, albeit at a less aggressive rate.

While much of the focus of this new bill has been on how it will impact our primary industry, oil and gas, it also impacts numerous other sectors, in particular, agriculture. The agriculture industry represents 8% of GHG emissions in Alberta4. This is a substantial portion that should be mitigated, but done so in a way that does not crush this important and very present industry, particularly with food security becoming a greater issue globally. An example of how important agriculture is in Alberta is Alberta beef. Alberta is known as the heart of the Canadian beef and cattle industry. Currently, 40% of all cows in Canada reside in Alberta, 70% of the feedlot capacity resides in Alberta and it contains 70% of the processing capacity in Canada5. About half of provincial agricultural emissions are primarily from the cattle sector and the other half from the cropping sector. This means both livestock and crops are going to be heavily impacted by this new levy. Understanding that this new levy would significantly influence many of our farmers, the provincial government has exempted farm fuel from the carbon levy, but, other costs such as fertilizer, crop protection products, etc., will still be subject to it. For businesses like Agrium, a company that develops, produces, markets and sells agricultural products and related chemical products, and is the third largest employer in Alberta, this represents a significant cost6. Additionally, some primary producers have shown concern that they will not be able to pass down the cost and will have to absorb it into their already tight margins. It is important to note that GHG emissions are a present issue in Alberta that must be addressed, but doing so in a way that continues to encourage economic development and protects some form of industry is important. This is why it is imperative to have continued engagement with the agriculture industry by the government going forward. It is too soon to tell the full impact the new levy will have on our farmers but I hope that with continued interaction between government and farmers we will be able to reduce our environmental footprint while promoting new and innovative ideas that will maintain this vital industry.

Our current situation in Alberta is a microcosm for trends we are seeing globally.  At COP21 in Paris, nearly 80 percent of the countries said they would use agricultural practices to curb climate change, and more than 90 percent said they would use those practices in addition to changes in forestry and land use linked to farming7. Agriculture backs many countries' economies and this sector is increasingly under threat from weather extremes, in particular drought and floods. In other words, as was the motto used by the FAO for World Food Day this year: “the climate is changing, food and agriculture must too”. Because farming practices can produce large amount of emissions, this industry has a significant yet unrealized potential to mitigate climate change. Whether this happens through farm practices, such as soil carbon sequestration through cover cropping, or by knowledge sharing between countries and within countries, agriculture needs to be a part of the climate change discussions. In our efforts to protect our environment, we want to ensure we are not crushing this important sector which is key to addressing food security issues, combating poverty, and ensuring good nutrition globally.

References:

 

Another Year Oat-ver…

Another year is about to end, and with that some interesting projects will end as well. You might already know that in November, Emerging ag assisted the Prairie Oat Growers Association (POGA) in a Trade Mission to Mexico to help promote oats in the country. We could not be more pleased with the main outcomes of this mission:

  • 19 media attendants at 2 tasting events 
  • 2,000 oats samples distributed at World’s Diabetes Day event
  • 4 meetings with processors and importers
  • 1 Briefing on Mexican market
  • 7 mission participants from POGA

While we hibernate this holiday season, this is also a good time to think of new ways to continue promoting Canadian oats in Mexico. Maybe a cooking workshop with nutritionists? A recipe cookbook? We will also relaunch some of the activities that have proved success like a Recipe contest and new recipe photographs. 

If you wish to share a healthy oats recipe, send it to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Don’t forget to take a nice photo of your creation. 

Since this will be one of my last contribution to this blog this year, allow me to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Feliz Navidad!

 

Feast on Pulses January 18

The upcoming holidays may make you think about New Year’s indulgences and so what a great way to start the New Year off right to feast on Pulses too in 2017. Chickpeas, beans, lentils, and peas are great food. My favorite recipe is the Punjabi Dal Makhani.

They are so good for people and for the planet that they have their own special day, Global Pulse Day, to be celebrated all around the world on January 18th! That’s because pulses have a low use of water and a small carbon footprint.

Pulses are core to the food baskets of people in most places around the world. And of course, we keep finding out that traditional foods are good foods. Some are even dubbing pulses a “super food”. They are low in fat, contain important minerals and vitamins, are great for your health and help in weight management.

So whether your New Year’s resolution is to lose weight or lower your carbon footprint, you should be eating more pulses every week, and certainly on January 18th, 2017 for Global Pulse Day, to continue to celebrate pulses and build on the momentum of the United Nations International Year of Pulses.

Last year, Pulse Feast was celebrated at 141 events in 36 countries reaching 21 million people! From all around the world, people were mobilised to make this event a day to remember.

So this year, I encourage people around the world to eat their favorite beans, peas, lentils and chickpeas that day and share the many benefits of consuming pulses for people and the planet. You can organise a family meal with pulses on the menu or share your favourite pulse dishes at a corporate party. You can invite friends for dinner or promote the benefits of eating pulses at school. If you love pulses, it’s the right time to tell the world! If you are looking for recipes, there are hundreds of them available on pulses.org.

Anybody can participate in any corner of the globe and can share their Global Pulse Day with the rest of the world either by posting information about your event on social media and using the hashtag #GlobalPulseDay #LovePulses or registering the event on the Global Pulse Day webpage.

All the events will be highlighted on pulses.org website with a 48 hours’ coverage on January 18th to cover all the world’s time zones. There is no limitation on number of people (from 2 to 20,000) to be attending your event.

  • Join our Thunderclap so your social media will automatically support the campaign on January 18
  • Use the Twitter hashtags #GlobalPulseDay #LovePulses to be sure to be recorded as part of our TINT feed (a social media aggregator)
  • Capture images of your event: any visual material that can be shared in social media will be of great use. Take pictures!
  • Talk about your event: you can write a blog post before and after the event talking about why you are involved in celebrating pulses in 2017.

Please visit the Global Pulse Day webpage to learn more. You too can be a part of this exciting celebration when you join the Global Pulse Day movement on January 18th 2017!

Feast away!

High Level Dinner Highlights

You know what they say about first impressions …well I was certainly impressed! This was my first CFS and High Level Dinner and I found both to be amazing experiences. 

The 2016 edition of the High Level Dinner held on October 18th at the Rome Cavalieri, Waldorf Astoria saw 190 attendees from businesses, governments, NGOs, and academia gather to discuss, debate and collaborate on what “Delivering the SDGs through Innovation” means. 

The interactive format of the event allowed many ideas, thoughts and perspectives to be shared amongst the group. Some of the main conclusions were in order to achieve the delivery of the Sustainable Development Goals innovation is a cornerstone and it is imperative that significant investments are made in technologies and infrastructure. These investments can then foster the sharing of knowledge empowerment and innovation advancements globally. Click the following link to view the full High Level Dinner report

On a personal note I would like to say it was both personally and professionally rewarding to be responsible for the coordination of this year’s High Level Dinner. I was able to add several new learnings to my event planning knowledge, met some truly wonderful people and had a great time in the process.

On behalf of the whole IAFN team I would like to extend a big thank you to everybody that made the evening so special. 

Plans are already underway for next year’s High Level Dinner and we hope to see you all there! 

Please visit the IAFN website for more information on CFS 44 and all of the other events happening throughout the year.

Ciao!

 

Celebrate Global Pulse Day – January 18, 2017

On January 18, 2017, the world will celebrate pulses…again! Formerly known as Pulse Feast, Global Pulse Day will be celebrated every year to promote the nutritional and environmental benefits of pulses. 

Celebrate with us by joining our Thunderclap to promote the benefits of pulses for people and the planet on Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr. Sign up here: https://www.thunderclap.it/projects/50361-global-pulse-day?locale=en 

Eat pulses that day and tell the world about it! You can register your lunch, dinner, party with pulses with us so they are part of the celebrations on January 18! Events will take place globally and be shared through social media. Learn more, and register your event here: http://pulses.org/global-pulse-day  

Last year we saw over 140 events world-wide celebrating pulses. In 36 countries, events ranged from a university meal in Chennai joined with a lecture on pulses, and children in Malawi were fed protein supplements made with pulses. A skating party with a Dutch Olympic medal winner in Amsterdam, as well as a roundtable discussion with IFPRI in New Delhi at the National Academy of Agricultural Sciences (NAAS). As they were chiming in the International Year at the Gate Restaurant in London, those across the Atlantic geared up for new dishes in Brazil, Three Kings celebrations in Mexico City, lunch for one hundred in Pullman, and an event in Toronto that had pulses trending on twitter.

We are so excited about this year’s social media event, that we have developed a series of downloadable resources for your use. These include:

  • Multiple Twitter promotional photos
  • Advertisements
  • Blog template
  • Flyers translated in English, Arabic, Spanish, French, Turkish, and Portuguese
  • Social Media Plan

Download these items here

For more updates on #GlobalPulseDay, and for inspiration on different pulse dishes to serve at your event, follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Show the world that we #LovePulses on January 18! 

Happy Global Pulse Day

 

Trade Mission to Mexico: You oat-ta love this!

I did not ask to be Mexican, I was just lucky to be born in this beautiful country. My luck doubled when I joined Emerging, which allowed me to be part of many interesting projects, including one to promote oats in Mexico with the Prairie Oat Growers Association (POGA). I like food in general, but I love oats more. 

Since 2013 we have been helping POGA with a campaign to promote this cereal in Mexico and to better understand the market opportunities for Canadian oat producers in Mexico. This past November we took a small delegation for a Trade Mission to Mexico City and Guadalajara to meet with relevant players in the country, as well as to host 2 media events and be part of the World’s Diabetes Day awareness event in Mexico City. 

Attended by 2,000 Mexicans, on November 13th the Mexican Diabetes Federation and the Mexican Ministry of Health organised a public event in Mexico City to raise awareness on this disease that is affecting more than 6 million people and is one of the main causes of death in the country. That was a sunny Sunday when Mexicans did many fun activities such as dancing Zumba and watching Lucha Libre wrestlers (if you want to see these funny developments visit this link). Since oats are a suitable food for people living with diabetes, POGA was granted with a booth to distribute recipe cards and fact sheets to promote oats and their nutritional properties. POGA partnered with the largest oat company in the world, Grupo Vida, who contributed with free oats samples to hand out during the event. 

Another highlight of this mission was the 2 tasting events that we hosted for the media in Mexico, where the chefs prepared a menu with Mexican recipes using oats in each and one of them! Together, the events attracted 60 attendees including 19 media reporters and bloggers. The program of the night included remarks by the representatives of the  Embassy of Canada and the Mexican Diabetes Federation. 

We will continue to work with POGA this 2017 with more fun projects, and I only have to say that if you are not eating enough oats, you oat-ta start now!

 

How to hold a Global Pulse Day Event on January 18th, 2017 #GlobalPulseDay #LovePulses

Register your event: http://pulses.org/register-global-pulse-day 

If you love beans, peas, lentils and chickpeas, January 18, 2017 is going to become your favorite cooking day. It will be the second ever Global Pulse Day, a global event to celebrate pulses and continue the momentum of the 2016 International Year of Pulses. Encourage people around the world to eat pulses on January 18th. Raise awareness on the multiple benefits of consuming pulses for people and the planet. 

The first Global Pulse Day took place on January 6, 2016 as “Pulse Feast”, with 141 events spanning 36 countries, reaching 21 million people. 

Any event can qualify as a Global Pulse Day event from a family meal with pulses on the menu to a corporate party to a seminar on pulses. Anybody can participate in any corner of the globe and can share their Global Pulse Day with the rest of the world by linking to LovePulses either by posting information about your event on social media and using the hashtag #GlobalPulseDay or emailing us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. There will be some coverage over 48 hours of January 18 covering the world’s time zones. There is no limitation on number of people (from 2 to 20,000) to be attending your event. 

What kind of event can Global Pulse Day be?

  • A featured day of serving pulses at your facility or with your family
  • Corporate lunch with employees and partners
  • Seminar/Symposium/Lecture
  • A dinner with friends
  • A meal at a restaurant
  • Donations to a local food bank of pulses
  • A song (or other artistic creation) in honor of pulses or your favorite pulse-based meal (many were recorded on Global Pulse Day 2016)

Where can a Global Pulse Day take place?

A Global Pulse Day can take place anywhere. Here are a few examples of locations: 

  • Restaurant
  • Company facility
  • Someone’s home
  • Event venue
  • School or University
  • Public area

What are the requirements to be part of Global Pulse Day?

Global Pulse Day can take the shape of any event organized by anyone in the world as long as it follows the following 4 requirements:

  1. Pulses have to be on the menu or be featured in your event/creation (any type of pulse, any type of meal, any type of cuisine, any type of catering)
  2. Make references to Global Pulse Day using the hashtags #GlobalPulseDay, #LovePulses
  3. Be registered with us (please visit http://pulses.org/global-pulse-day or contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) 
  4. Share information about the event/happening/creation with LovePulses campaign: livestream video, recorded film, photos by using #GlobalPulseDay in your posts or emailing us directly with the material. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

How can I share my Global Pulse Day with the rest of the world?

  • Use the Twitter hashtags #GlobalPulseDay #LovePulses to be sure to be recorded as part of our TINT feed (a social media aggregator)
  • Capturing images of my event: any visual material that can be shared in social media will be of great use. Take pictures!
  • Talking about my event: you can write a blog post before and after the event talking about why you are involved in celebrating pulses in 2017. 
  • Recording parts of my event: any type of video content (edited and non-edited) showing what your event looks like can be sent to us to be uploaded on social media platforms to be shared with us (#LovePulses @lovepulses is on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest and pulses.org)

Please visit http://pulses.org/global-pulse-day to review the guidelines and email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.if you have any questions. We can help promote your pulse-related activities. 

Happy Global Pulse Day!

 

CFS43: PSM Side-events work to achieve World Food Security, and the SDGs

The 43rd plenary session of the UN Committee of World Food Security took place October 17 to 21, 2016 to discuss the issues and solutions on global food security and nutrition. This year’s session saw 56 side-events. The Private Sector Mechanism hosted 4 and a book launch, all discussing various issues and topics to advance the private sector’s engagement in reducing food insecurity, and achieving the sustainable development goals. These side-events included: 

Continue reading

The role of standards to facilitate trade of agricultural commodities for food security and nutrition

A successful side event organized at the margins of the Committee on Commodity Problems

How often do we think about all the regulations that surround our food? Probably never. And yet, before we can enjoy any meal, a lot of standards have been playing their role in the background to make sure our food is safe for consumption. As the world population is growing fast, so are the technologies in food safety, improved standards and trade flows enabling the agriculture industry to keep up with the growing demand. This pace is necessary to be able to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and especially Goal 2.

Market access issues are some of the most important obstacles to achieving these goals and standards setting bodies like Codex Alimentarius are challenged to deliver at the same pace as the world demands. The Codex Alimentarius, managed jointly by the FAO and the WHO, plays a critical role as the most important international standard setting body in the area of food safety, quality and trade fairness. Thus, enabling trade in agricultural products to benefit producers, importers and consumers. 

With this perspective in mind, I helped organize a timely side-event on “The role of standards to facilitate trade of agricultural commodities for food security and nutrition” that was organized in the margins the Committee on Commodity Problems since a large portion of commodity problems has to do with market access issues.

The event was chaired by H.E Anil Wadhwa, Ambassador of India to the Republic of Italy and the UN Rome-Based Agencies and moderated by Eric Robinson, Counsellor for Agriculture at the Permanent Mission of Canada to the UN Rome-Based Agencies. The side-event covered the importance of trade and international standards, as well as the need to continuously improve procedures to avoid constraints on the trade of agricultural commodities.

Speakers gave a short presentation highlighting different aspects of the challenges posed by such issues as current delays in MRL approvals, but also presented the initiative of creating a coalition that deals with agricultural commodities affected by MRLs for pesticides or MRLs more generally.

June Arnold, Head of Trade Policy at the Grain and Feed Trade Association (GAFTA) has been tackling this issue since 2007 when she joined GAFTA. “The grain industry’s challenge is to move agricultural commodities from areas of surplus to areas of deficit, provide for regulatory compliance, safety and cost efficiency. The role of Codex in standard setting is all important to the global agri commodity trade so that it can carry out its role, and international standards such as MRLs help facilitate trade and enable regulatory compliance.” She also flagged that one of the main challenges is the need to comply with zero or near-zero default tolerances which are commonly applied today by countries as they wait for limits to be established at an international level.  “We face a situation where testing technology is cheaper, easier and more sensitive, and this WILL increasingly disrupt trade and add to price volatility”.

Katie Donnelly, Director of Scientific Affairs with Tata Global Beverages, and member of the FAO/IGG Working Group on MRLs for Tea, provided the audience with some insights and experience from the Tea sector regarding this issue. “The current JMPR / Codex scheduling and review process takes too long, however Codex standards are not uniformly recognised or adopted in some tea producing and importing countries. Reforms to the Codex process and more global recognition of Codex standards are urgently needed to facilitate trade and help producers.”

Codex standards serve in many cases as a basis for national legislation. More and more developing countries are taking an active part in the Codex process.  Clara Kathurima, Deputy CEO of Rural Women in Agriculture is a farmer and expert in women's development and women's empowerment. She shared her perspective on how the setting of these international standards impacted her as an African female farmer. “Farmers face the struggle to meet various standards; the Codex Alimentarius standard included. The latter has been used as a reason of failure to settle payments to farmers, stating a shift in MRLs by the importing company.  This has led to thousands of dollars in losses to farmers!“

In developing countries pulse trade represents a golden opportunity for improving livelihoods of smallholder farmers and contributing to sustainable rural development. A global call for reform of the MRL process was initiated in the context of the International Year of Pulses 2016, through the mobilisation of numerous groups beyond the pulse sector interested in seeing improvement in the manner and speed with which Codex MRLs are being set. 

Huseyin Arslan, President of the Arbel Group for the past 15 years is one of the key actors of the Pulse sector in Turkey and also an active member of the coalition through the Global Pulse Confederation “A broad coalition of industry partners and farmers was established to improve the MRL approval process through JMPR and CCPR in order to obtain a more effective and efficient international standardization of MRL approvals which will help facilitate global trade and support food security.”

The Side event was a great success, over 60 participants showed interest to this issue. 25 countries attended the side-event: Angola, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Ecuador, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Greece, Hungary, India, Kenya, Kuwait, Lesotho, Liberia, New Zealand, Peru, Senegal, South Sudan, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, and Venezuela.

This event marked a key stepping stone in the effort to identify key challenges for global trade around quality and timely standard setting, exploring ideas to address capacity and methodology issues. This is also another stepping stone for us to look at our food in a whole new perspective!

More Photos HERE

 

Let’s Recognise the Importance of Livestock in Achieving the SDG’s

Undeniably there are environmental impacts associated with livestock, as with everything, but with this same stroke there are irrefutable benefits of animal source proteins, especially in developing nations. The article, “Lets ‘meat’ in the middle on climate change”, discusses how eliminating meat consumption all together could have devastating effects on developing nations and proposes a solution where countries meet in the middle with a tailored approach to tackling the challenges associated with livestock and combating climate change. 

Currently, 800 million people go hungry every year and 2 billion suffer from micronutrient deficiencies. Introducing or increasing animal proteins in these people’s diets can combat this. Additionally, a billion people earning less than US$2 a day around the world depend on livestock for their livelihoods. The sector represents 40% of the agricultural GDP of developing nations and as much as 60% in some poor countries. These are just a few of the staggering statistics on the importance of livestock covered in this fascinating article. To combat climate change it is going to take everyone, but it should be done in a manner that does not compromise the livelihoods and the food security of millions. Check out Polly Ericksen’s captivating article here