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Modeling the effect of a heat wave on maize production in the USA and its implications on food security in the developing world - Chung &al (2014) - Weather Climate Extremes

Modeling the effect of a heat wave on maize production in the USA and its implications on food security in the developing world - Chung &al (2014) - Weather Climate Extremes | Food Policy | Scoop.it

This study uses geo-spatial crop modeling to quantify the biophysical impact of weather extremes. More specifically, the study analyzes the weather extreme which affected maize production in the USA in 2012; it also estimates the effect of a similar weather extreme in 2050, using future climate scenarios. The secondary impact of the weather extreme on food security in the developing world is also assessed using trend analysis.

 

Many studies have reported on the significant reduction in maize production in the USA due to the extreme weather event (combined heat wave and drought) that occurred in 2012. However, most of these studies focused on yield and did not assess the potential effect of weather extremes on food prices and security. The overall goal of this study was to use geo-spatial crop modeling and trend analysis to quantify the impact of weather extremes on both yield and, followed food security in the developing world.

 

We used historical weather data for severe extreme events that have occurred in the USA. The data were obtained from the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). In addition we used five climate scenarios: the baseline climate which is typical of the late 20th century (2000s) and four future climate scenarios which involve a combination of two emission scenarios (A1B and B1) and two global circulation models (CSIRO-Mk3.0 and MIROC 3.2). DSSAT 4.5 was combined with GRASS GIS for geo-spatial crop modeling. Simulated maize grain yield across all affected regions in the USA indicates that average grain yield across the USA Corn Belt would decrease by 29% when the weather extremes occur using the baseline climate. If the weather extreme were to occur under the A1B emission scenario in the 2050s, average grain yields would decrease by 38% and 57%, under the CSIRO-Mk3.0 and MIROC 3.2 global climate models respectively.

 

The weather extremes that occurred in the USA in 2012 resulted in a sharp increase in the world maize price. In addition, it likely played a role in the reduction in world maize consumption and trade in 2012/13, compared to 2011/12. The most vulnerable countries to the weather extremes are poor countries with high maize import dependency ratios including those countries in the Caribbean, northern Africa and western Asia. Other vulnerable countries include low-income countries with low import dependency ratios but which cannot afford highly-priced maize. The study also highlighted the pathways through which a weather extreme would affect food security, were it to occur in 2050 under climate change.

 

Some of the policies which could help vulnerable countries counter the negative effects of weather extremes consist of social protection and safety net programs. Medium- to long-term adaptation strategies include increasing world food reserves to a level where they can be used to cover the production losses brought by weather extremes.

 

http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.wace.2014.07.002

 

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A global strategy for road building - Laurance &al (2014) - Nature

A global strategy for road building - Laurance &al (2014) - Nature | Food Policy | Scoop.it

The number and extent of roads will expand dramatically this century. Globally, at least 25 million kilometres of new roads are anticipated by 2050; a 60% increase in the total length of roads over that in 2010. Nine-tenths of all road construction is expected to occur in developing nations, including many regions that sustain exceptional biodiversity and vital ecosystem services.

 

Roads penetrating into wilderness or frontier areas are a major proximate driver of habitat loss and fragmentation, wildfires, overhunting and other environmental degradation, often with irreversible impacts on ecosystems. Unfortunately, much road proliferation is chaotic or poorly planned, and the rate of expansion is so great that it often overwhelms the capacity of environmental planners and managers.

 

Here we present a global scheme for prioritizing road building. This large-scale zoning plan seeks to limit the environmental costs of road expansion while maximizing its benefits for human development, by helping to increase agricultural production, which is an urgent priority given that global food demand could double by mid-century.

 

Our analysis identifies areas with high environmental values where future road building should be avoided if possible, areas where strategic road improvements could promote agricultural development with relatively modest environmental costs... Our plan provides a template for proactively zoning and prioritizing roads during the most explosive era of road expansion in human history.

 

http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature13717

 

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Turning yeast into sustainable fish food - Future Food (2014)

Turning yeast into sustainable fish food - Future Food (2014) | Food Policy | Scoop.it

Nichols was in charge of DuPont’s business development. It was 2006, and the company had created an innovation around bio-based omega-3 fatty acids... genetically modified yeast could substitute for fish oils and preserve the omega-3 fatty acids. But Nichols knew it was a breakthrough in another area as well. “In the blink of an eye, I realized that we could solve a big problem with salmon aquaculture,” says Nichols, who now directs Verlasso, a joint venture between DuPont and AquaChile... 

 

Fish oil produced from wild-caught fish supplies critical nutrients that farmed salmon need to grow, but these wild-caught fish are harvested unsustainably. By 2006, salmon aquaculture was consuming some 80 percent of the world’s fish oil and still growing at a rate of 8 to 10 percent per year. Oily fish like anchovies, menhaden and mackerel provide the main source of fish oils, and their harvests are threatened as their populations deplete.

 

“We are looking at a future where there would be no more fish oil to be had... I thought, if we are able to provide the omega-3 to the salmon using... yeast that is rich in omega-3s, and use far fewer wild-caught feeder fish for the diet, it would do a lot of good for the oceans while sustainably supplying farmed salmon with omega-3s.”

 

Verlasso’s method of salmon aquaculture reduces reliance on wild-caught fish by 75 percent. Four pounds of wild-caught feeder fish are typically needed to produce the fish oil to make one pound of salmon. Verlasso, on the other hand, relies on just one pound of wild-caught fish to produce one pound of salmon. “We have lowered the fish in/fish out ratio. One in and one out,” says Nichols.

 

Verlasso has also identified ways to get down to about three-quarters of a pound of wild-caught fish used per one pound of fish produced, and Nichols believes the company will be able to achieve that over time. Although the joint venture’s current focus is on raising Atlantic salmon, the feed could certainly be useful for other salmon species...

 

“Everyone recognizes we can’t continue to harvest forage fish to feed oil to salmon... Some people ask, How do we use these [forage] fish with most efficiency? The proper question is, How do we use them not at all? They need to be food sources themselves” ... 

 

However, Nichols says providing omega-3s to the fish through the yeast is more expensive than using fish oil. “The company formulates the fish diets based on optimal performance rather than least cost, and a number of the ingredients in our feed are more expensive than those used in traditional salmon aquaculture”... The fish grow in the southern Pacific Ocean off of Chile, reaching harvest size in about two years in pens with fewer than four salmon per ton of water, or about 50 percent more room per fish than the industry standard.

 

While fish farming is Nichols’ business, he says he often thinks of the pressing problems with world agriculture and how enough food will be produced to feed the expanding global population in decades to come. “We’ve got to find ways to do more with less. How do we develop agriculture practices that operate in harmony with the environment and allow us greater intensity? ... I heard a great quote from former NOAA administrator Jane Lubchenco: ‘It’s OK to use the oceans, and not OK to use them up’” ... 

 

“We are not going in the right direction,” says Nichols. “I hope it is axiomatic to say that it is indefensible to harvest a fishery above its sustainable level. A thornier question is how we should respond to roughly half of the world’s fisheries being harvested at the upper limits of sustainability. Operating at the very edge leaves little or no room to accommodate things unforeseen.... There seems to be precious little international enthusiasm to talk about how to reduce pressure on fisheries, but it is surely needed.”

 

If people are going to continue to eat fish, says Nichols, they must be farmed and they must be raised sustainably. “All agricultural production, whether on land or in water, has environmental effects. The key consideration is that we manage those effects so that our practices today do not impinge on our ability to practice in the future”... 

 

http://futurefood2050.com/turning-yeast-into-sustainable-fish-food/

 

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Political reforms and food security - Pieters &al (2014) - EAAE

In the last decade there has been a renewed interest in food and nutrition security. The food price spikes of 2007-08 and 2010-11 have revived the fight against hunger and malnutrition and has given food security a more prominent place on the international policy agenda.

 

Despite the growing consensus of reducing hunger and child malnutrition, there is less consensus on the way forward. Food security is a complex and multidimensional problem consisting of many causes at different levels of aggregation (individual, household, national and international). In the past decade a large literature on food security and its drivers and determinants has been developed over time. In the empirical literature, four main determinants of food security can be identified: economic status, health status and environment, education and demographic factors.

 

Among the various determinants, the impact of political reforms on food security has received less attention. In this paper, we therefore test whether a transition into a democracy systematically affects food security at country level. The median voter model predicts that democracies redistribute from the rich to the poor... a democracy will have a positive effect on food security... There are, however, confounding factors... Autocracies, for example, might care as well about poverty and food security issues as it reduces the incentives of the population to revolt... In this case, a transition into a democracy might not significantly improve food security... 

 

In this paper we have studied the impact of political reforms on food security using evidence from child mortality rates... only political reforms into a democracy have a positive impact on food security with the magnitude of the effect increasing as democracies remain installed for at least ten years...

 

In the 32 country case studies investigated, we found a significant and positive effect of democratization for Guatemala, Mexico, Senegal and Philippines, while for the other 28 countries we did not find any effect. The wedge between the results of the two methods can be attributed to the use of the weighted counterfactual...

 

http://purl.umn.edu/182716

 

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MARIA ISABEL VALDERRAMA's curator insight, October 10, 2014 11:32 AM

Las políticas publicas en seguridad alimentaria, deben abordar cada una de sus dimensiones, "acceso, disponibilidad, consumo, aprovechamiento biológico, calidad e inocuidad..." evitando así, caer en el asistencialismo que supone la entrega de alimentos sin una razón diferente a la de mitigar el hambre...

Para el cumplimiento de los Objetivos  de Desarrollo del Milenio, las acciones deben acompañarse de estrategias de formación que proporcionen herramientas a las personas para crear comunidades auto sostenibles y disminuir los indices de malnutrición de sus pobladores. 

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Impacts of Climate Change on Food Utilization - Aberman & Tirado (2014) - Springer

Impacts of Climate Change on Food Utilization - Aberman & Tirado (2014) - Springer | Food Policy | Scoop.it

Climate change, one of the worlds most critical current and future challenges, is increasingly impacting food security, especially for the world's poor and vulnerable. Food utilization, one of the four dimensions of food security, pertains to the biological processing of food by individuals and is typically measured with nutritional indicators. The pathways through which climate change impacts food utilization can be summarized as diet and health... 

 

The evidence we do have suggests not only that climate change is exacerbating food insecurity for the world’s poor but also that we must go beyond solutions promoting agricultural yields to addressing the broader health context and the complexities of crop science. And because those who are already vulnerable are least able to cope with or adapt to the impacts of climate change, women and other vulnerable groups must be considered in programs and policies to address the issue.

 

http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-5784-4_124

 

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Is producing more food to feed the world beside the point? - Grist (2014)

Is producing more food to feed the world beside the point? - Grist (2014) | Food Policy | Scoop.it

Imagine you are a small farmer in a poor country, growing corn and a small mix of other crops to support your family. One year a drought destroys most of your harvest, and suddenly you — along with everyone else in the region — face the threat of going hungry.

 

You were able to salvage a fraction of the corn you hoped to harvest. The question is, what do you do with it? You could keep it to feed your family. But processing corn takes an incredible amount of time and labor. And you can’t live on corn alone: You’ll need some money to buy other foods, and for the inevitable expenses... 


If you decide to sell some of your corn, where do you sell it? Prices are low in your region: Because of the drought, people can’t afford to pay what they normally do. But prices are higher to the north, where there was more rain and no threat of famine. The logical thing to do would be to keep some corn for your family and sell the rest for the best price you can get.

 

But this logic means that, when there’s threat of famine, food tends to flow away from where it’s needed most, into more affluent areas. Hunger creates a demand for food, but wealth creates an even stronger demand.

 

When I started... people began preemptively warning me that I was probably headed in the wrong direction. They feared that I would start by asking: How are we gonna feed 10 billion people without wrecking the planet? And then answer it by saying, well technology X can increase farm yields by this much, and technology Y can bump it up a little more… Instead of focusing on agricultural productivity, these people said, we should be working on access to food. We currently have plenty of food, and yet we still have hunger, even in the U.S. So how will increasing yields further help?

 

As Gordon Conway points out, in his book One Billion Hungry: Can We Feed the World? : “If we were to add up all of the world’s production of food and then divide it equally among the world’s population, each man, woman, and child would receive a daily average of over 2,800 calories — enough for a healthy lifestyle.” And Amartya Sen, the Nobel Prize-winning economist, has demonstrated that famines stem primarily from poverty, not a widespread food shortage. “Famine has often taken place when statistics have shown little or no decline in food supply,” Sen wrote... The key to preventing famines, according to Sen, is to create government programs that move resources and ensure that everyone gets food... 

 

Does this mean that we can stop worrying about agricultural production entirely? Should we just ignore farmers, and instead focus on building democracies? Absolutely not, say the agricultural economists. “The way I learned it, as an applied economist, is that productivity is necessary, but not sufficient,” said Melinda Smale, a professor of international development... You also need the markets, the distribution, the governance, perhaps the egalitarian class structure, so that each person gets that bare minimum.

 

Since I quoted Conway saying that we have enough food for everyone, I should now also include his next sentence: “But of course, food is not divided in this way (nor is income), and it is unrealistic to expect it will happen in the near, or even distant, future.” Oh yeah. There’s that.

 

If anyone knew how to flip the democracy switch on, and the inequality switch off, that would obviously be the first step. But those are tough, slow problems. On the other hand, we do know how to increase farm yields... It’s worth noting that China, the country that’s done best in the past 50 years decreasing poverty and hunger, is not a democracy... 

 

Good agriculture can help with the project of achieving good politics. The primary reason to increase yields, Rosegrant said, is to combat poverty by providing more income to farmers. The fact that yields increase the food supply and lower prices for everyone is secondary... 

 

So people are absolutely right to say that — if you are concerned about hunger — farm yields are less important than politics and poverty. But it’s not an either-or proposition: A large body of evidence  suggests that improving agriculture is a powerful way to reduce poverty .

 

http://grist.org/food/is-producing-more-food-to-feed-the-world-beside-the-point/

 

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Feeding humanity through global food trade - D'Odorico &al (2014) - Earth's Future

Feeding humanity through global food trade - D'Odorico &al (2014) - Earth's Future | Food Policy | Scoop.it

The recent intensification of international trade has led to a globalization of food commodities and to an increased disconnection between human populations and the land and water resources that support them through crop and livestock production... 


Despite the recognized importance of the role of trade in global and regional food security, the societal reliance on domestic production and international trade remains poorly quantified. Here we investigate the global patterns of food trade and evaluate the dependency of food security on imports. We investigate the relationship existing between the trade of food calories and the virtual transfer of water used for their production.


We show how the amount of food calories traded in the international market has more than doubled between 1986 and 2009, while the number of links in the trade network has increased by more than 50%. Likewise, global food production has increased by more than 50% in the same period, providing an amount of food that is overall sufficient to support the global population at a rate of 2700-3000 kcal per person per day. About 23% of the food produced for human consumption is traded internationally... 

 

http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/2014EF000250

 

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An app that helps you buy good food at the best price - Europa (2014)

Nothing to cook for dinner? While rushing to the supermarket, you will soon be able to consult the FoodLoop app and find the best offers close to you. This system... informs you if a product is reduced in price because the "best before" date is coming up. You save money but also help reduce waste.


Food close to expiry date is often thrown away by retailers, and as a result, 90 million tons of edible food ends up in the trash in the EU every year. Now these products can be tagged with new "special offer" barcodes and FoodLoop’s users will be informed in real-time... 


http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-14-909_en.htm


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The other Asian enigma - IFPRI (2014)

South Asia has long been synonymous with persistent and unusually high rates of child undernutrition—the so-called Asian enigma. Yet contrary to this stereotype, Bangladesh has managed to sustain a rapid reduction in the rate of child undernutrition for at least two decades... 


We aim to understand the sources of this unheralded success with the aspiration of deriving policy-relevant lessons from Bangladesh’s experience. To do so we employ a regression analysis of five rounds of Demographic and Health Surveys covering the period from 1997 to 2011. 

 

Statistical decompositions suggest that five broad factors explain slightly more than half of the improvement... rapid gains in both maternal and paternal education, wealth accumulation, increased utilization of or access to prenatal and neonatal health services, reductions in open defecation, and demographic changes in the form of reduced fertility rates and longer birth intervals.

 

Most of these broader economic and social improvements can be plausibly linked to pro-poor economic policies and community-led development schemes, and for the most part the results are robust to various sensitivity analyses... 

 

http://www.ifpri.org/publication/other-asian-enigma

 

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Diet change: a solution to reduce water use? - Aalto U (2014)

Diet change: a solution to reduce water use? - Aalto U (2014) | Food Policy | Scoop.it

Eating less meat would protect water resources in dry areas around the world, researchers... have found. Reducing the use of animal products can have a considerable impact on areas suffering scarce water resources, as meat production requires more water than other agricultural products... 


Growing population and climate change are likely to increase the pressure on already limited water resources and diet change has been suggested as one of the measures contributing to adequate food security for growing population.

 

The researchers assessed the impact of diet change on global water resources over four scenarios, where the meat consumption was gradually reduced while diet recommendations in terms of energy supply, proteins and fat were followed... 

 

Global population is expected to exceed 9 billion by 2050, adding over 2 billion mouths to be fed to the current population, according to the UN. By reducing the animal product contribution in the diet, global green water (rainwater) consumption decreases up to 21 % while for blue water (irrigation water) the reductions would be up to 14 %. In other words, by shifting to vegetarian diet we could secure adequate food supply for an additional 1.8 billion people without increasing the use of water resources... 

 

The researchers... found substantial regional differences... In Latin America, Europe, Central and Eastern Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa, diet change reduces mainly green water use... In the Middle East region, North America, Australia and Oceania, also blue water use would decrease considerably. In South and Southeast Asia... diet change does not result in savings in water use, as in these regions the diet is already [or still?] largely based on a minimal amount of [animal food] products.

 

http://www.aalto.fi/en/current/news/2014-08-04/

Original paper: http://dx.doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/9/7/074016

 

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Smart Aid for the World's Poor - WSJ (2014)

Smart Aid for the World's Poor - WSJ (2014) | Food Policy | Scoop.it

How can rich countries best help poor ones? Matt Ridley identifies five priorities that provide the biggest benefits for every dollar spent. 

 

In September next year, the United Nations plans to choose a list of development goals for the world to meet by the year 2030. What aspirations should it set for this global campaign to improve the lot of the poor, and how should it choose them?

 

In answering that question, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and his advisers are confronted with a task that they often avoid: setting priorities. It is no good saying that we would like peace and prosperity to reach every corner of the world. And it is no good listing hundreds of targets. Money for foreign aid, though munificent, is limited. What are the things that matter most, and what would be nice to achieve but matter less? ... 

 

What Mr. Ban needs is an objective way of paring down the list. In doing so, I would recommend to him an unlikely ally: Bjorn Lomborg, a T-shirt-wearing, vegetarian, Danish political scientist who shot to fame in 2001 with a book called "The Skeptical Environmentalist," which infuriated those who support environmental protection at all costs, including the welfare of the poor.

 

Mr. Lomborg is the founder of an international think tank called the Copenhagen Consensus Center. He has invented a useful method for dispassionately but expertly deciding how to spend limited funds on different priorities. Every four years since 2004, he has assembled a group of leading economists to assess the best way to spend money on global development. On the most recent occasion, in 2012, the group—which included four Nobel laureates—debated 40 proposals for how best to spend aid money.

 

The goal was simple: to create a cost-benefit analysis for each policy and to rank them by their likely effectiveness. For every dollar spent, how much good would be done in the world? ... 

 

Surprising as it may seem, the global-aid industry has rarely done such cost-benefit analysis. People in this line of work generally recoil from such rankings as a heartless exercise implying discrimination against still-worthy global goals. The aid industry often seems implicitly to take the view that funds are unlimited and that spending on one priority doesn't crowd out spending on another. But this is patently not the case: The problems are far bigger than the available budget and will remain so even if the world's rich countries ever meet their 35-year-old goal of spending 0.7% of their GNP on development aid. 

 

In December last year, Mr. Lomborg came to New York to address the U.N. Open Working Group's ambassadors directly. He handed them his strips of paper and asked them to put them down in preferred order. It was an eye-opening exercise in a place where people are accustomed to saying, in diplomatic earnest, "Everything is important." ... 

 

Champions of aid aren't used to having their homework marked in this stark fashion, and some didn't like it at first. As Ambassador Elizabeth M. Cousens, the U.S. representative to the U.N. Economic and Social Council, told Mr. Lomborg, "I really don't like you putting one of my favorite targets in red." But she added, "I'm glad you're saying it, because we all need to hear economic evidence that challenges us."

 

Having gone through this useful document myself, I found myself in full sympathy with those forced to choose among them. But at least this sort of analysis provides some rigor and direction.

 

What would my own list of five 2030 goals look like, based on the work of the Copenhagen Consensus group? 

 

1. Reduce malnutrition... Every dollar spent to alleviate malnutrition brings $59 of benefits. 2. Tackle malaria and tuberculosis... 3. Boost preprimary education... 4. Provide universal access to sexual and reproductive health... 5. Expand free trade... 


One of the discoveries of the Copenhagen Consensus process is that incremental goals such as expanding free trade are often better than supposedly "transformational" goals. A successful Doha Round of the World Trade Organization could deliver annual benefits of $3 trillion for the developing world by 2020, rising to $100 trillion by the end of the century.

 

Those who fear that the rankings might reflect Mr. Lomborg's own prejudices will be relieved. He convened the economists, to be sure, but they are the ones who did the color coding.

 

Mr. Lomborg accepts the basic conclusions of today's climate science... the experts he brought together conclude that phasing out fossil-fuel subsidies is a "phenomenal" value... But they judge it poor value, for the world's poor, to attempt either to double the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix or to hold the increase in global average temperature below a certain level... allowing emissions to rise initially while investing in rapid advances in energy technology is a much better idea than trying to limit emissions now with today's expensive renewables... 


Figuring out the best way to help the world's poor isn't like solving a math problem. There are not right and wrong answers. But there are better and worse answers, and the only way to assign those priorities is to set aside our sentimental commitments and do the hard work of assessing costs and benefits.


http://online.wsj.com/articles/smart-aid-for-the-worlds-poor-1406326677


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How the private sector is tackling the global food security challenge - Devex (2014)

How the private sector is tackling the global food security challenge - Devex (2014) | Food Policy | Scoop.it

Food security is an urgent global issue. The reasons behind food insecurity are numerous, complex and multifaceted. Persistent poverty and undernourishment, combined with political and socio-economic challenges, are the major underpinnings of food insecurity globally. Other major contributing factors include production shortfalls, agricultural impact on the environment, global climate change, water scarcity, natural disasters, rapid population growth, changing consumption trends and price volatility. All these and other challenges only heighten the concern for the future of food access and security over the coming decades.


The good news is many leading companies are on the forefront of helping solve the global food security crisis. In 2008, for example, General Mills launched Partners in Food Solutions, a consortium of leading global food companies, including Royal DSM and Cargill, and in partnership with TechnoServe and the U.S. Agency for International Development. The consortium aims to help strengthen the capacity of hundreds of food companies in several African nations... impacting 550,000 small-holder farmers. It encourages other companies with additional capabilities to join to broaden its reach to continue to improve the food value chain in Africa.

 

Additionally, six coffee industry leaders — Starbucks, Keurig Green Mountain, S&D Coffee, Farmer Brothers, Counter Culture Coffee and Sustainable Harvest Coffee Importers — have launched the Coffee Lands Food Security Coalition, which aims to combat seasonal hunger among coffee-farming families in coffee-producing regions. A three-year program, “Empowering Food Secure Communities,” was established in partnership with the global humanitarian organization Mercy Corps and Nicaraguan organization Asociación “Aldea Global” Jinotega... 

 

In 2010, Wal-Mart and the Wal-Mart Foundation launched “Fighting Hunger Together,” a $2 billion cash and in-kind commitment through 2015 to combat hunger in the U.S., in partnership with hunger relief organizations and food banks. Goals include donating more than 1.1 billion pounds of food valued at $1.75 billion, award $250 million in grants to hunger relief organizations, mobilize Wal-Mart customers and employees to contribute their time and expertise to fight hunger, and partner with other companies, foundations, government and food manufacturers. In addition, Wal-Mart is collaborating with USAID through the government’s Feed the Future initiative, which aims to support rural small-holder farmers in Central America, connect them to Wal-Mart’s international and regional supply chains, and improve nutrition for customers through greater access to more diverse local produce.

 

Part of the Feed the Future initiative, the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition is a broader collaborative effort that brings together the private sector, donors and the investment community to drive sustainable agriculture in Africa and lift 50 million people out of poverty by 2022.

 

In 2012, Dupont set food security goals for 2020, including committing $10 billion to R&D and introducing 4,000 new products focused on producing more food, reducing waste, bolstering food availability and shelf life, and enhancing food and agriculture sustainability; educating 2 million youth; and improve the livelihoods of at least 3 million farmers and their communities... 

 

https://www.devex.com/news/how-the-private-sector-is-tackling-the-global-food-security-challenge-84042

 

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Leverage points for improving global food security and the environment - West & al (2014) - Science

Achieving sustainable global food security is one of humanity’s contemporary challenges. Here we present an analysis identifying key “global leverage points” that offer the best opportunities to improve both global food security and environmental sustainability. We find that a relatively small set of places and actions could provide enough new calories to meet the basic needs for more than 3 billion people, address many environmental impacts with global consequences, and focus food waste reduction on the commodities with the greatest impact on food security. These leverage points in the global food system can help guide how nongovernmental organizations, foundations, governments, citizens’ groups, and businesses prioritize actions... 


We focused our analysis on 17 key global crops... composing the 16 highest-calorie–producing crops consumed as food, as well as cotton, because of its intensive water and nutrient use. These 17 crops cover 58% of the global cropland area harvested and produce 86% of the world’s crop calories. They also account for most resource use on croplands: 95% of irrigated area, 92% of irrigation water consumption, and ~70% of all nitrogen and phosphorus application... 


Increasing yields in low-performing areas by closing the yield gap to 50% of attainable yields could increase total production by 358 megatons per year... which is enough calories to meet the basic needs of ~850 million people... Targeting reductions in fertilizer use to a small set of crops and countries could... have a large effect on global nitrogen and phosphorus pollution... 


If current crop production used for animal feed and other nonfood uses (including biofuels) were targeted for direct consumption, ~70% more calories would become available, potentially providing enough calories to meet the basic needs of an additional 4 billion people. The human-edible crop calories that do not end up in the food system are referred to as the “diet gap” ... Maize represents the largest potential gain, accounting for 41% of the global diet gap. Maize in the United States accounts for 19% of the global diet gap, which is enough calories for 760 million people... 


Curbing consumer waste of major food crops (i.e., wheat, rice, and vegetables) and meats (i.e., beef, pork, and poultry) in [the United States, China, and India] alone could feed ~413 million people per year if the feed calories embodied in meat are included... 


http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.1246067

 

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New study charts the global invasion of crop pests - Univ Exeter (2014)

New study charts the global invasion of crop pests - Univ Exeter (2014) | Food Policy | Scoop.it

Many of the world’s most important crop-producing countries will be fully saturated with pests by the middle of the century if current trends continue... More than one-in-ten pest types can already be found in around half the countries that grow their host crops. If this spread advances at its current rate, scientists fear that a significant proportion of global crop-producing countries will be overwhelmed by pests within the next 30 years.

 

Crop pests include fungi, bacteria, viruses, insects, nematodes, viroids and oomycetes. The research... describes the patterns and trends in their spread, using global databases to investigate the factors that influence the number of countries reached by pests and the number of pests in each country... “If crop pests continue to spread at current rates, many of the world’s biggest crop producing nations will be inundated by the middle of the Century, posing a grave threat to global food security.”

 

The study identifies the pests likely to be the most invasive in coming years, including: three species of tropical root knot nematode whose larvae infect the roots of thousands of different plant species; Blumeria graminis, a fungus that causes powdery mildew on wheat and other cereals; and the Citrus tristeza virus (given its name meaning ‘sadness’ in Portuguese and Spanish by farmers in the 1930s) which had reached 105 of 145 countries growing citrus by 2000.

 

Fungi lead the worldwide invasion of crops and are the most widely dispersed group, despite having the narrowest range of hosts.

The study looked at the current distributions of 1,901 crop pests and pathogens and historical observations of a further 424 species... 


“By unlocking the potential to understand the distribution of crop pests and diseases, we’re moving one step closer to protecting our ability to feed a growing global population. The hope is to turn data into positive action.” It supports the view of previous studies that climate change is likely to significantly affect pest pressure on agriculture, with the warming Earth having a clear influence on the distribution of crop pests... 


http://www.exeter.ac.uk/news/featurednews/title_408265_en.html


Original article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/geb.12214


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India's free school lunch program - NPR (2014)

India's free school lunch program - NPR (2014) | Food Policy | Scoop.it

India's free school lunch program is the largest in the world. The program was started in the mid-1990s with two goals: to fight chronic hunger and child malnutrition and to increase school enrollment and attendance.  

 

As many studies have shown, the program has reached these goals. The "Mid-Day Meal Program" currently feeds about 120 million of India's poorest children. "Food is cooked in 12 lakh [1.2 million] schools," says Dipa Sinha, an economist at the Center for Equity Studies in New Delhi.

 

It is also a program that has made headlines for its missteps, one of which was tragic. In 2013, 23 students at a school in the Chapra district of Bihar died after eating food contaminated with pesticides. Many more fell ill. A government investigation later found that, like most schools in the state, this school had no separate kitchen or storage place for the food items. As a result, ingredients were stored in the principal's house, right next to pesticides stored for her farm.

Since then, there's been no tragedy of similar scope... 

 

The rice and wheat supplied to schools come from government warehouses... The government sends grains to schools every two or three months. And many schools around the country don't have a separate kitchen or larder to store the grains... Since the 2013 poisoning in Bihar, the government has been building separate kitchens in schools... But thousands more are yet to be built. There's also a need to better train cooks about best practices in the kitchen... Cooks at schools are often illiterate or poorly educated and aren't aware of health standards... 

 

Currently, a teacher is assigned to monitor the program and make sure everything runs smoothly, says Kumar. Teachers do this on top of regular duties and are not paid extra. "One person is overseeing everything... This is the main problem." The problems can be fixed... the states of Tamil Nadu and Gujarat have created a separate position for a "noon meal organizer." As a result... their school lunch programs have fewer problems than do other areas... 

 

Meanwhile, despite all these cases of contaminated food, kids haven't stopped eating the free lunches — a sign of how much they depend on the Mid-Day Meal Program.

 

http://www.npr.org/blogs/goatsandsoda/2014/08/27/343246186/lizards-and-worms-should-not-be-on-the-school-lunch-menu

 

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Earth can sustain more terrestrial plant growth than previously thought - EBI (2014)

Earth can sustain more terrestrial plant growth than previously thought - EBI (2014) | Food Policy | Scoop.it

A new analysis suggests the planet can produce much more land-plant biomass – the total material in leaves, stems, roots, fruits, grains and other terrestrial plant parts – than previously thought.The study... recalculates the theoretical limit of terrestrial plant productivity, and finds that it is much higher than many current estimates allow.


“When you try to estimate something over the whole planet, you have to make some simplifying assumptions,” said... professor Evan DeLucia... “And most previous research assumes that the maximum productivity you could get out of a landscape is what the natural ecosystem would have produced. But it turns out that in nature very few plants have evolved to maximize their growth rates” ... 

Estimates derived from satellite images of vegetation and modeling suggest that about 54 gigatons of carbon is converted into terrestrial plant biomass each year... “This value has remained stable for the past several decades, leading to the conclusion that it represents a planetary boundary – an upper limit on global biomass production”...

But these assumptions don’t take into consideration human efforts to boost plant productivity through genetic manipulation, plant breeding and land management, DeLucia said. Such efforts have already yielded some extremely productive plants. 

For example, in Illinois a hybrid grass, Miscanthus x giganteus, without fertilizer or irrigation produced 10 to 16 tons of above-ground biomass per acre, more than double the productivity of native prairie vegetation or corn. And genetically modified no-till corn is more than five times as productive – in terms of total biomass generated per acre – as restored prairie in Wisconsin.

Some non-native species also outcompete native species; this is what makes many of them invasive... In Iceland, for example, an introduced species, the nootka lupine, produces four times as much biomass as the native boreal dwarf birch species it displaces. And in India bamboo plantations produce about 40 percent more biomass than dry, deciduous tropical forests.

Some of these plants would not be desirable additions to native or managed ecosystems... but they represent the untapped potential productivity of plants in general. “We’re saying this is what’s possible” ...


The team used a model of light-use efficiency and the theoretical maximum efficiency with which plant canopies convert solar radiation to biomass to estimate the theoretical limit of net primary production (NPP) on a global scale. This newly calculated limit was “roughly two orders of magnitude higher than the productivity of most current managed or natural ecosystems” ...

“We’re not saying that this is even approachable, but the theory tells us that what is possible on the planet is much, much higher than what current estimates are” ... Taking into account global water limitations reduced this theoretical limit by more than 20 percent in all parts of the terrestrial landscape except the tropics... “But even that... is many times higher than we see in our current agricultural systems.”

DeLucia cautions that scientists and agronomists have a long way to go to boost plant productivity beyond current limits, and the new analysis does not suggest that shortages of food or other plant-based resources will cease to be a problem.

“I don’t want to be the guy that says science is going to save the planet and we shouldn't worry about the environmental consequences of agriculture, we shouldn’t worry about runaway population growth... All I'm saying is that we’re underestimating the productive capacity of plants in managed ecosystems.” 

 

http://www.energybiosciencesinstitute.org/news/study-earth-can-sustain-more-terrestrial-plant-growth-previously-thought

 

Original paper: http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/es502348e

 

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Impacts of Global Change on Crop Production and Food Security - Savary &al (2014) - Springer

Impacts of Global Change on Crop Production and Food Security - Savary &al (2014) - Springer | Food Policy | Scoop.it

Agricultural systems occupy approximately 24 % of Earth’s terrestrial surface. They have been ensuring a vital ecosystem service, since food production kept pace with population growth in the course of the twentieth century. Most of the past balance has been ensured through agricultural intensification. There currently is, however, an obvious mismatch between human population sizes (and thus food demand) and food production among regions of the world. Further, alarming signs indicate that maintaining a balance between the world’s population growth and its food supply in the coming decades will become a major challenge, especially in the context of global, including climate, change.


Agricultural systems involve inflows and outflows, which determine their performances. Outflows include primary, desirable ones (e.g., crop yields) and secondary, often undesirable outflows (e.g., nutrient and pesticide losses to the environment). Inflows include non-substitutable ones, with essential roles for crop growth and plant metabolism (e.g., water, seeds, nutrients), while others are substitutable (e.g., labor, mechanization, pesticides). These inflows contribute to the growth-defining, growth-limiting, and growth-reducing factors, which determine three levels of plant production: potential, attainable, and actual.


Three entry points to enhance the performances of agricultural systems are considered, through increasing (1) potential yields, (2) attainable yields, and (3) actual yields. The latter entry point, which involves improving crop health, has several advantages. One of them is that its likely impact is at least equivalent to increasing potential yields or attainable yields. Another critical advantage of increasing actual yields, especially through the improvement of crop health, is that it allows addressing not only the quantity of harvests but also their quality, thus fulfilling the goals of achieving both global food security and food safety.


We propose that this conclusion applies to all levels of agricultural intensification, in particular intensive agricultural systems, (1) which are potentially more exposed to crop loss risks, (2) whose performances are particularly vulnerable to global change, and (3) which will continue to play a central role in global food security and safety.


http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-5784-4_8

 

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Research is ‘no panacea’ for development, finds DFID - SciDev (2014)

Research is ‘no panacea’ for development, finds DFID - SciDev (2014) | Food Policy | Scoop.it

Research is “not a panacea” for development in low-income countries despite making “important and significant contributions to socioeconomic development”, according to an impact review of public research by the UK Department for International Development.

Evidence does not back commonly held assumptions about how research leads to change, for example by directly benefiting economic growth and the quality of higher education, the report says.

The lack of impact may be due to a poor interface between science and policy, and weak technology transfer environments needed to convert knowledge into useful products, it says. But it does add that funding research may lead to improvement of the skill base necessary for development and, to an extent, design of pro-poor technologies... 


It is also important to improve cooperation among donors, policymakers, communities and scientists in order to help governments make better use of research evidence... and in order to develop research relevant to individual countries’ development agendas.

The report... finds that public investment in research plays an important role in developing pro-poor technologies, especially in health and agricultural fields, but a lack of scientific capacity limits opportunities to commercialise advances.

The report says that, rather than driving economic development by generating new knowledge and technology, the value of research in LICs is often as a means of building human capital... As well as helping to fulfil the “urgent need” for technical and critical thinking skills, the report says conducting research can train experts who then advise decision-makers.

Furthermore, the improvements in human capital that research activities bring can lead to development through better appropriation of existing knowledge... “For LICs, the ability to take up and use knowledge and technology is a better predictor of growth than the ability to generate new knowledge and technologies”... “Unless there is sufficient capacity to absorb research results, no amount of research supply will have positive impacts,” it says... 

User-friendly formats such as fact sheets, policy briefs and job aids for practitioners must accompany the publication of traditional research reports or peer-reviewed papers... 


http://www.scidev.net/global/policy/news/research-is-no-panacea-for-development-finds-dfid.html

 

Original report: http://r4d.dfid.gov.uk/Project/60753/

 

Alexander J. Stein's insight:

"public investment in research plays an important role in developing pro-poor technologies, especially in health and agricultural fields, but a lack of scientific capacity limits opportunities to commercialise advances." 

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From hunger to food security: a conceptual history - Maletta (2014) - Univ Pacifico

From hunger to food security: a conceptual history - Maletta (2014) - Univ Pacifico | Food Policy | Scoop.it

Hunger afflicts hundreds of millions of people around the world. However, the very concept of hunger is difficult to define, and in fact the whole issue of hunger has been subsumed under the more comprehensive concept of food security. This paper retraces the history of this concept, from its original appearance in international usage at the 1974 World Food Conference, to more modern versions like the definition adopted in the First and subsequent World Food Summits.


Originally framed in terms of sufficient world supply of food, the concept of food security initially morphed into the aim of national self-sufficiency in the production of food, but later evolved into its current meaning centred on access to food by individuals and households. Under its more recent incarna­tion, and quite unlike its former meaning, it is recognised that international food trade is a key element for achieving food security. This and other conceptual transformations are revised through this paper.

 

http://www.up.edu.pe/ciup/discusionDetalle.aspx?idDet=3032

 

 
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Bigger Government Makes for More Satisfied People - Baylor Univ (2014)

Bigger Government Makes for More Satisfied People - Baylor Univ (2014) | Food Policy | Scoop.it

People living in countries with governments that spend more on social services report being more contented... “The effect of state intervention into the economy equals or exceeds marriage or employment status — two traditional predictors of happiness — when it comes to satisfaction”... 

 

“Assessing the Impact of the Size and Scope of Government on Human Well-Being” ... analyzed data from 21 advanced industrialized countries collected by the World Values Survey from 1981 to 2007, with nearly 50,000 respondents... 

 

Conservatives and right-leaning political parties tend to champion free market capitalism and are critical of government intervention, maintaining it can lead to inefficiency and waste that hurts employment, wages, and economic growth. By contrast, left-leaning political parties and labor organizations argue for more intervention into the market to even out the ups and downs of the business cycle... 

 

“We assessed respondents’ subjective well-being using a very straightforward question: ‘All things considered, how satisfied are you with your life as a whole these days?’” ... On a scale of 1 to 10 — with 10 the highest level of satisfaction... 

 

Four measures of government policies were used...The study’s findings held true regardless of whether respondents were rich or poor. The researchers also ruled out alternative explanations such as an individual’s health, education level, and marital status as well as the gross national product and unemployment rate of the country that he or she lives in. 

 

"Are we saying we need a bigger government to be happier? No. Instead, our goal is to objectively examine the data and let people draw their own conclusions... If anything, this study is a conversation-starter about what role we envision for government in our lives and the advantages and disadvantages of government intervention into the market economy.” 

 

Countries ranked from most to least satisfied... included:

• Denmark: 8.20

• Switzerland: 8.10

• Iceland: 8.04

• Ireland: 7.95

• Austria: 7.95

• Finland: 7.82

• Sweden: 7.82

• Canada: 7.82

• Norway: 7.78

• Netherlands: 7.76

• United States: 7.61

• Australia: 7.58

• Great Britain: 7.51

• Belgium: 7.49

• Germany: 7.08

• Italy: 7.05

• Portugal: 7.05

• Spain: 6.96

• France: 6.85

• Greece: 6.67

• Japan: 6.63

 

http://www.baylor.edu/mediacommunications/news.php?action=story&story=145501

 

Original paper: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/sf/sou010

 

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A bit surprised about UK and US being ahead of Germany and France in this study... 

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Why nutrition-smart agriculture matters - Devex (2014)

Why nutrition-smart agriculture matters - Devex (2014) | Food Policy | Scoop.it

The focus of agricultural policy should be to increase productivity, provide employment and reduce poverty. How often have you read or heard statements like this? I am an economist, and I understand this thinking. It has its place. But I will argue that the reason global food systems are failing is because they have neglected the most fundamental purpose of agricultural systems — to nourish people.

 

Today, more than 2 billion people are suffering from hidden hunger — most will get enough calories, which has been the metric for food systems thus far, but not enough vitamins and minerals. We know too well the global costs of this hidden hunger. We see it in women as they risk death during childbirth. We see it in a stunted child with a diminished IQ. And we see it in men and women too weakened by illness and poor immunity to be able to work at an optimal level.

 

We need to re-envision agriculture as the primary source of sound nutrition through the food people harvest and eat. This is a radical concept in the true sense of the word — returning to the root or fundamental purpose of agriculture... 

 

Agriculture must become nutrition-smart. Nutrition-sensitivity is not enough. Our basic food systems have to be optimized to provide the greatest amount of nutrients per square foot that can be produced sustainably, especially in the face of climate change.

 

Central to this is dietary diversity. Agricultural systems have favored cereals and grains, and vast productivity increases through numerous green revolutions have provided enough calories to greatly diminish the specter of famine. However, more nutritious foods such as lentils, pulses, vegetables and other orphan crops have not received the same attention; productivity increases have lagged. As prices of these nutritious foods have increased, the poor eat less of them. This is especially evident in South Asia, home to most of the world’s malnourished people... 

 

Three crops — wheat, rice and maize — provide most of the world’s calories. We call these types of food staples because they are staples for everyone, irrespective of their income. A rich businesswoman in Singapore eats rice every day, just as a poor farmer in Bangladesh does. But one way we can help the poor farmer, who is more reliant on rice for survival, to improve her family’s nutrition is to make sure the rice that she grows to feed her family and the community is more nutritious.


Since last year, the first high-yielding rice varieties in Bangladesh that are rich in zinc have been made available to farmers. Without enough zinc in their diets, children are at risk of being stunted. Over time, more productive, more climate-smart and more nutrition-smart varieties will be released regularly. In the case of zinc rice, there will soon be varieties that can provide up to 80 percent of an adult woman’s or child’s daily zinc needs, 35 percent more than ordinary rice varieties.

 

Other locally grown food, as well as fortified food and supplements, where available, can make up the difference, but we begin with more nourishing food that is grown at home.

 

How are crops such as zinc-rice developed? ... Nutrition-smart plant breeders scour seed banks for neglected and underused varieties that are more nutritious, but that have been passed over in the search for higher yields... they cross these underused varieties with the most popular high-yielding varieties that farmers grow. From the progeny... the best varieties are then selected.

 

Nutrition-smart plant breeders also work with nutritionists to determine the nutrient levels that must be bred into these new varieties to have a measurable impact on improving nutrition and public health. There is evidence that they work.

 

Nutrition-smart food crops are being evaluated or have been released in more than 30 countries... These crops are released as public goods so they are accessible to poor farmers. Furthermore, we are multiplying and delivering these crops to farmers, working with both private and public sector partners to educate farmers and consumers, and to build markets for these foods...

 

A few months ago, I traveled to Uganda... where I met some “biofortified babies.” Their mothers had been educated on the benefits of orange sweet potato over white and yellow ones. These nutrition-smart mothers knew what vitamin A is and why it is crucial to their children’s health. They knew that an ice cream-size scoop of OSP could provide their children with their full daily vitamin A needs. They grew OSP alongside traditional varieties and other food crops and also knew that mangoes, leafy greens and other types of food are good sources of vitamin A. Their awareness and consumption of more nutritious food has increased. And the most important outcome? They have better nourished and healthier babies and children. This is what we are after. 


https://www.devex.com/news/why-nutrition-smart-agriculture-matters-84050


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Three ways to engage science with development governance - SciDev.Net (2014)

Three ways to engage science with development governance - SciDev.Net (2014) | Food Policy | Scoop.it

The science community’s plaintive cries for policy attention signal a familiar problem that demands new approaches. 

SciDev.Net was essentially set up in response to a problematic relationship between governance and science: there were few links between the management of public goods in global development — health and education, for instance — and the learning and opportunities that scientific research and technology can offer.

Our preoccupation with this problem... has also given rise to a particular type of headline — what might be referred to as the plaintive cry of science for policy attention... One such... story: Science struggles to see its place in final drafting of SDGs. It suggests that opportunities for scientists to influence the Sustainable Development Goals are now limited as targets that should be determined by scientific evidence are being left to political expediency — despite some compelling evidence...


Interestingly, the story makes clear that the international community regards the science community much like the rest of civil society, which has opportunities to lobby. But scientists have much less capacity for and experience of lobbying as a group... 

A big part of the problem is that science is particularly ill-suited for politics... The chief scientific advisor at the UK Department for International Development, emphasised the difference between the technical professionals who implement policy and the officials who ratify it. Indeed, he said, we see these roles as interchangeable at our peril — who would want a politician to build a bridge? ... 


So what to do? There are three ways to look at this challenge... 


Jeffrey Sachs, head of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, was optimistic about science’s potential role in the negotiations. He... saw science as providing the framework that underpinned the ‘zero draft’ SDG document, drawing on such concepts as planetary boundaries and the Anthropocene era. He also saw that document as a structural map presenting organising principles for mobilising and allocating scientific input... This speaks to the value of looking for various forms of influence...

 

Whitty looked more specifically at the political economy within which development policy operates — and this is the second way to examine the science-based policy challenge. He encouraged scientists to build allegiances with economists, observing that most senior civil servants are trained economists... 

Indeed, SciDev.Net’s research has previously signalled this call for more socioeconomic analysis in science stories. And, arguably, an economics module designed for scientists should be a key element of a quality research education... 


Finally, we could learn from the Rose hypothesis... In the context of science-based policy, this means making the public more science-literate, as opposed to providing high-level access to policymakers for selected scientists. The rationale here is the same as with any other issue: politicians set national agendas, and budgets, according to what they see is exercising voters... 

Complex systems such as the way policy operates in our societies would suggest that, to have impact, the scientific community needs to use every tactic. The complexity also means that no single approach will work everywhere.


The first step then, is to discourage the scientific community from viewing their exclusion as inevitable and insurmountable. Instead, the aim should be to inspire ingenuity and confidence. We can do this by celebrating the stories where science has made a difference in public decision-making, even if, at first, there appears little to celebrate... 

 

http://www.scidev.net/global/policy/editorials/engage-science-development-governance.html

 

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Cassava flour in bread and confectionery - IITA (2014)

Cassava flour in bread and confectionery - IITA (2014) | Food Policy | Scoop.it

The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is supporting the inclusion of cassava flour in bread and other forms of confectionery as part of efforts to improve food security and the livelihoods of farmers in sub-Saharan Africa.

 

This follows the launching in Lagos on 23 July of two projects under IFAD grants: Enhancing the Competitiveness of the High Quality Cassava Flour Value Chain (HQCF) in West and Central Africa; and Improving Quality, Nutrition and Health Impacts of the Inclusion of Cassava Flour in Bread Formulation in West Africa (Nigeria and Ghana).

 

The projects will, among others, support the generation, dissemination, and adoption of improved technologies for production and processing; develop and pilot-test a set of integrated best-bet options for HQCF production and promote market access to secondary products; and develop and promote appropriate evidence-based models for sustainable value chain development for African agricultural commodities...

 

Grown mostly by small-scale farmers, cassava is a source of livelihood for about 300 million people in sub-Saharan Africa. However, because the value chain is underdeveloped and the crop spoils relatively quickly after harvesting, farmers are yet to exploit the full potential in terms of livelihood improvement.

 

Recently researchers from IITA and partners successfully baked bread with 40% percent cassava flour and 60% wheat flour, showing bakers a window of possibilities. IFAD sees this inclusion as a major step that would address food insecurity, create jobs especially for the rural youth, and improve incomes.

 

http://www.iita.org/2014-press-releases/-/asset_publisher/CxA7/content/ifad-backs-cassava-flour-in-bread-and-confectionery

 

Alexander J. Stein's insight:

If the use of cassava can increase food security by helping poor and undernourished people increase their calorie intake that's of course a good thing. If cassava flour is poorer in micronutrients than other flour this would be a bad thing, though, depending on the trade-off. Another solution is, of course, to biofortify cassava -- whether through genetic engineering (BioCassava Plus) or through "conventional" breeding (HarvestPlus)...  

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Insects to Feed the World - Food Chain (2014)

Insects to Feed the World - Food Chain (2014) | Food Policy | Scoop.it

The conference brought together the largest assembly to date of stakeholders from all over the world to consider key aspects of collection, production, processing, nutrition, marketing, and consumption related to insects in a global multi-stakeholder dialogue. The conference marked an important step towards mobilizing the potential of insects as human food and animal feed to contribute to global food security and in particular to exchange information on the feasibility of mass rearing of insects to increase the availability of animal proteins in a more sustainable way... 

 

The use of insects as food and feed proved to be very relevant, mainly due to the rising costs of major protein sources for animal feed (such as fish and soybean meal), food and feed insecurity, environmental pressure, population growth, and the increasing demand for animal protein (meat, fish, dairy products, eggs, etc.) among the world’s rapidly growing middle classes.


The overall objective of the conference was to lay the foundations for continued dialogue, further research, evidence-based policymaking, and investments to promote the use of insects as human food and as animal feed in the context of food and feed security.

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Stunting: The Cruel Curse of Malnutrition in Nepal - IPS (2014)

Stunting: The Cruel Curse of Malnutrition in Nepal - IPS (2014) | Food Policy | Scoop.it

Durga Ghimire had her first child at the age of 18 and the second at 21. As a young mother, Durga didn’t really understand the importance of taking care of her own health during pregnancy. “I didn’t realise it would have an impact on my baby” ... It is late in the afternoon and she is waiting expectantly for her two older daughters to return from school. One is nine and the other is six, but they look much smaller than their actual age.

 

“They are smaller in height and build and teachers at school say their learning process is also much slower”... She is worried that the girls are stunted, and is trying to ensure her third child gets proper care... UNICEF explains stunting as chronic under-nutrition during critical periods of growth and development between the ages of 0-59 months. The consequences of stunting are irreversible and in Nepal the condition affects 41 percent of children under the age of five...

 

“Reducing stunting among children increases their chances of reaching their full development potential, which in turn will have a long-term impact on families’, communities’ and the country’s ability to thrive.”

Child health and nutrition experts argue that, while poverty is directly related to inadequate intake of food, it is not the sole indicator of malnutrition or increased stunting... the immediate causes include poor nutrient intake, particularly early in life. Fifty percent of stunting happens during pregnancy and the rest after infants are born.

 

“When we are talking about nutrient-rich food […] we are talking about ensuring that children get enough of it even before they are born” ... Thus it is incumbent on expecting mothers to follow a careful diet 

 

In preparation for her daughter’s feeding time, Ghimire mixes together a bowl of homemade leeto, a porridge containing one-part whole grains such as millet or wheat and two-parts pulses such as beans or soy.

“I was only using grains to make the leeto before I was taught to make it properly by the health workers... I had no idea that simple things like washing my hands properly could have such a long term effect on my daughter’s health”... Even seemingly common infections like diarrhoea can, in the first two years, put a child at greater risk of stunting...

 

Experts recognise the need to fight simultaneously on multiple fronts. “Our work in nutrition has proven again and again that a single approach to stunting doesn’t work because the causes are so many – it really has to be tackled in a coordinated way”... In 2009 the government conducted the Nutrition Assessment and Gap Analysis (NAGA), which recommended building a multi-sector nutrition architecture to address the gaps in health and nutrition programmes. 

 

“The NAGA study stated clearly that nutrition was not the responsibility of one department”... Thus, in 2012, five ministries in Nepal came together with the NPC and development partners to form the Multi-Sector Nutrition Plan (MSNP)... Interventions include biannual vitamin D and folic acid supplements for expectant mothers, deworming for children, prenatal care, and life skills for adolescent girls. On the agricultural front, ministries aim to increase the availability of food at the community level through homestead food production, access to clean and cheap energy sources such a biogas and improved cooking stoves, and the education of men to share household loads... 

 

The World Bank has estimated that malnutrition can cause productivity losses of as much as 10 percent of lifetime earnings among the affected, and cause a reduction of up to three percent of a country’s GDP... 

 

http://www.ipsnews.net/2014/07/stunting-the-cruel-curse-of-malnutrition-in-nepal/

 

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