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Harvest, Meet Market: How a New Fund Will Accelerate Agricultural Infrastructure in Africa | USAID Impact

Harvest, Meet Market: How a New Fund Will Accelerate Agricultural Infrastructure in Africa | USAID Impact | Food Security & Sustainability | Scoop.it

10 May 2013 -- Tjada McKenna, Deputy Coordinator for Development for Feed the Future blog piece, USAID Impact

 

USAID's Feed the Future, the African Development Bank (AFDB) and the government of Sweden joined together to create Agriculture Fast Track.  This encourages private sector investment in food security projects in Sub-Saharan Africa. 

 

"The Agriculture Fast Track will encourage private sector investment in agricultural infrastructure projects to advance food security in Sub-Saharan Africa. In doing so, it supports Africa’s agriculture transformation agenda.

 

Incentivizing investment in agriculture

 

Historically, the private sector hesitated to invest in agriculture in Africa—and for good business reasons. Investing in agriculture has inherent risks, including drought, crop and livestock diseases and fluctuating crop prices. Agriculture projects can have high start-up costs because systems and facilities must be developed before they can begin making a profit. Given these challenges, it can be difficult for African countries and their development partners to create lasting improvements in food security.

 

That’s why we are so excited about renewed efforts to tackle these challenges in order to catalyze private investment that can spur economic growth while reducing hunger and undernutrition. Following the lead of African nations, efforts like the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition have coupled tough regulatory policy reforms with private investment commitments in agriculture. African leadership has driven these efforts forward, with governments undertaking transparent market-oriented reforms that encourage private investment and reduce barriers to agriculture-led economic growth."

GR2's insight:

USAID Agriculture FastTrack video - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8bdbbpmYZTM&feature=youtu.be

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Food Security & Sustainability
Curating articles on global food production related to: foodsecurity, sustainability, conservation, watersecurity, foodwaste, foodaid, GMOs, foodpolitics. Senior Editor/Curator -- Margaret Carroll Boardman Ph.D.
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Global research team decodes genome sequence of 90 chickpea lines

Global research team decodes genome sequence of 90 chickpea lines | Food Security & Sustainability | Scoop.it

28 January 2013, ICRISAT -- "In a scientific breakthrough that promises improved grain yields and quality, greater drought tolerance and disease resistance, and enhanced genetic diversity, a global research team has completed high-quality sequencing of not one but ninety genomes of chickpea.


Nature Biotechnology, the highest ranked journal in the area of biotechnology, featured the reference genome of the CDC Frontier chickpea variety and genome sequence of 90 cultivated and wild genotypes from 10 different countries, as an online publication on 27 January 2013. The paper provides a map of the structure and functions of the genes that define the chickpea plant. It also reveals clues on how the sequence can be useful to crop improvement for sustainable and resilient food production toward improved livelihoods of smallholder farmers particularly in marginal environments of Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. ..."


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Small-Scale Farming Promotes Economic Self-Sufficiency in the Caribbean

Small-Scale Farming Promotes Economic Self-Sufficiency in the Caribbean | Food Security & Sustainability | Scoop.it

16 October 2013, Food Tank -- "Caribbean nations that have long relied on food imports are now working toward self-sufficiency through small-scale farming.


This year marks the tenth anniversary of a Jamaican government campaign that has encouraged families, schools, and government facilities to become actively involved in small-scale farming - and the message of this campaign is spreading across the Caribbean.


Since before colonial times, countries in Africa and the Caribbean have had rich agricultural traditions. In the late 1900s, as measures by the World Trade Organization fuelled a surge in food imports, farmers found that demand for homegrown produce had declined, and domestic agricultural production started to recede. It was replaced by imported foods which were cheap at the time and appealed to a growing taste for foreign products. ..."


Photo: A smallholder farmer in Jamaica proudly points to his banana plants. Countries that formerly depended on food imports are now becoming more self-sufficient through small-scale agriculture. Credit: Michael L. Dorn

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Ag Leaders Announce Partnership to Promote Conservation Agriculture Adoption

17 October 2013, PRNewswire -- "The Howard G. Buffett Foundation, John Deere, and DuPont Pioneer Collaborate to Support Smallholders and Sustainable Farming in Africa.



The Howard G. Buffett Foundation today announced a collaboration with John Deere and DuPont Pioneer to develop products to support a conservation-based system of agriculture designed and targeted to sustainably improve the productivity of smallholder farmers in Africa.  The effort will be piloted in Ghana and include a conservation-based, mechanized product suite developed by John Deere; a system of cover crops and improved inputs from DuPont Pioneer; and support for adoption and training on conservation-based practices by the Howard G. Buffett Foundation.



The partnership was inspired by the Howard G. Buffett Foundation's nearly fifteen-year history of research in conservation agriculture on its research farms in South Africa and the U.S., and its longstanding efforts at promoting adoption of conservation agriculture in Ghana, as detailed in Howard G. Buffett's new book 40 Chances: Finding Hope in a Hungry World.The partners hope to develop a vibrant market for small-scale, conservation-based cropping systems and affordable equipment for smallholder farmers, first in Ghana and then across the continent of Africa. ..."




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Scientists Develop Drought Tolerant Tomato

16 October 2013, Crop Biotech Update, ISAAA -- "Scientists from Banaras Hindu University and Indian Institute of Vegetable Research genetically engineered tomato plants expressing ZAT12 gene, which is known to control the expression of many stress-activated genes in plants. Results of the Southern blot hybridization revealed the successful integration of the gene into the nuclear genome of the transformed tomato lines (To ). RT-PCR also confirmed the expression of the gene in the T2 generation plants. ..."

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In China, victory for wildlife conservation as citizens persuaded to give up shark fin soup

In China, victory for wildlife conservation as citizens persuaded to give up shark fin soup | Food Security & Sustainability | Scoop.it

19 October 2013, Washington Post, Simon Denyer -- "Campaign leads to plunge in demand for shark fin soup; conservationists hope to also wean Chinese off ivory.


Once a rare delicacy served to honored guests, shark fin soup had become so popular among China’s fast-growing elite in recent years that it was pushing some shark species close to extinction.

Now, there is fresh hope for sharks around the world. The demand for shark fins has plunged, providing a rare victory for conservationists that could have wider implications for other endangered wildlife. ..."


Photo: An Indonesian fisherman cuts the fin of a shark in Lampulo fish market in Banda Aceh. While the Chinese government has banned shark fin soup from state banquets, a burgeoning middle class in China continues to stoke demand. 

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Ethiopia Detoxified - Last Shipment of Unwanted Pesticides Leaves Country

28 April 2013, AllAfrica via Addis Fortune, Yetneeberk Tadele -- "The Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) shipped the last of the accumulated outdated pesticides last week. This was part of a total stock of 2,600tns identified as being located throughout the country since 2000.


The shipment of the pesticide stockpile took place in three phases, with a total budget of 12 million dollars, to destinations in Sweden,Finland,Germany,France and England.


The last phase, of which this latest shipment is a part, was financed by a 2.62 million Br grant from the World Bank (WB). Only 450 tonnes of the total stockpile was left; 300 were exported toSwedentwo months ago. The remaining 150 tonnes, destined toFranceandSweden, arrived inDjiboution Wednesday April 24, 2013.


The technical, financial and institutional capabilities of national institutions in Ethiopia to take safeguarding measures and dispose of stockpiles of outdated pesticides has been weak, according to Shimeles Hassen, Africa Stockpiles Programme (ASP) coordinator at MoA. This led to various stocks of banned and unwanted pesticides accumulating all over the country, creating hot spots with significant environmental and public health risks, sometimes in the heart of densely populated urban areas such as in Addis Abeba.


"Most of the obsolete pesticides were kept in sub-standard storage facilities, some of which lacked impermeable floors and had poor ventilation," Shimeles told Fortune. "At some locations, containers were stored in the open, exposed to direct sunlight, wind and rain, while many stores were accessible to unauthorized persons."


The absence of appropriate facilities, combined with lack of funds for proper storage and maintenance of stocks, continued to lead to increased accumulation without any action being taken until 1996, he explained. ..."

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Can Salmon Farming Be Sustainable? Maybe, If You Head Inland

Can Salmon Farming Be Sustainable? Maybe, If You Head Inland | Food Security & Sustainability | Scoop.it

2 May 2013, Alastair Bland, NPR -- "Land-based farms are a big step forward, scientists say. But it's not clear if they're scalable.


... For years, many marine biologists have argued that the floating, open-ocean net pens that produce billions of pounds of salmon per year also generate pollution, disease and parasites.


In some places in western Canada, the open-ocean salmon farming industry has been blamed for the collapse of wild salmon populations in the early 2000s — though other research has challenged that claim.


But now, a few salmon farms have moved inland, producing fish in land-locked cement basins separated from river and sea. One land-based fish farm in West Virginia has been commended as a sustainable alternative to conventionally produced salmon. On Vancouver Island, there is at least one such facility. And just last month, Willowfield Enterprises, based in Langley, British Columbia, harvested its first inland-farmed sockeye salmon, to be marketed under the brand name West Creek. Sockeye is a Pacific species that has rarely been cultivated before.


"In terms of environmental sustainability, I think [these closed-system farms are] a huge step forward," says Martin Krkosek, an assistant professor at the University of Toronto who has been among the leading critics of ocean net pen salmon production. "Waste material, disease, pollution, parasites — all these things aren't a concern with most closed-system aquaculture."


Some forms of aquaculture may have the potential to help ecosystems by taking fishing pressure off of wild fish stocks. But this hasn't been the case with the salmon farming industry, argues Daniel Pauly, a professor of fisheries at the University of British Columbia. One reason why, Pauly tells The Salt, is that the food that salmon farmers feed to their fish is usually fish meal made from wild — sometimes overfished — species. He points out that humans could be eating these species instead of farmed salmon. ..."


Photo: These sockeye salmon were raised at a land-based fish farm in Langley, British Columbia. Credit: Willowfield Enterprises

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In Central America, Smallholder Farmers Get Plugged In To Markets

In Central America, Smallholder Farmers Get Plugged In To Markets | Food Security & Sustainability | Scoop.it

12 October 2013, WFP -- "For generations Central American farmers have eked out a living growing the local staples of maize and beans, their harvests barely covering food and production costs. But today, some of the small rain-fed plots that dot the region are generating serious money.The 65 farmers of the El Garucho cooperative in El Salvador’s fertile Ahuachapan department used to sell poor-quality harvests to small traders at rock-bottom prices. As a result their income was low and, from one season to the next, they were seldom really sure they would be able to feed their families.But thanks to an initiative called Purchase for Progress, which helps poor farmers connect better to markets,  they have recently found a way out of the age-old predicament. They now count government and institutional buyers like WFP among their clients. Others include private sector heavyweights like Salvadorian flour company Harisa. ..."Photo: Karla Trujillo, President of the El Garucho farmers' cooperative in El Salvador, says finding new buyers for maize has meant more economic stability for all the members of the cooperative. Credit: WFP/Rosa Vargas

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Colombia's agriculture minister says he's resigning

Colombia's agriculture minister says he's resigning | Food Security & Sustainability | Scoop.it

11 May 2013, Reuters -- "Colombian Agriculture Minister Juan Camilo Restrepo, who dealt with paralyzing strikes by coffee growers and has aided negotiators seeking a peace accord with Marxist rebels, said on Friday he had submitted his resignation.


The effective date of his departure is unclear. Restrapo told reporters he informed President Juan Manuel Santos more than a month ago that he planned to step down but would remain in office until a replacement was named.


There has not been announcement on a successor.  Local radio Caracol quoted Restrepo as saying he would stay in his post until an agreement was reached with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, on land reform, the first and thorniest item on a five-point agenda.


FARC and government negotiators have been discussing land reform for almost seven months, with both sides hinting recently that they are close to agreement.


Restrepo has been heavily involved behind the scenes in government talks with FARC that aim to bring an end to five decades of war. ..."


Photo: Colombia's Agriculture Minister Juan Camilo Restrepo speaks during an interview with Reuters in Bogota May 16, 2011. Credit: John Vizcaino, Reuters

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2013 Global Hunger Index (GHI)

2013 Global Hunger Index (GHI) | Food Security & Sustainability | Scoop.it

14 October 2013, ESSP, IFPRI-- " The International Food Policy Research Institute, Concern Worldwide Ethiopia, and Welthungerhilfe have published ‘The Global Hunger Index Report 2013’ on October 14, 2013.The report comprehensively measure and track global hunger. The Index combines three equally weighted indicators and ranks countries on the overall score. The three indicators are: the proportion of people who are undernourished, the proportion of children under five who are underweight, and the under-five mortality rate. Countries are ranked on a 100-point scale, with 0 being the best score (no hunger) and 100 being the worst, though neither of these extremes is achieved in practice. ..."

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Running the gauntlet: delivering food in Syria

Running the gauntlet: delivering food in Syria | Food Security & Sustainability | Scoop.it

30 April 2013, Reuters, Samia Nakhoul and Michael Stott -- Aid workers in Syria are struggling to navigate a lawless archipelago of armed groups to get food to Syrians trapped in a fast-intensifying civil war, the head of the World Food Programme's Syria operation says.


Matthew Hollingworth said in an interview last week that WFP is trying to feed 2.5 million people every month inside Syria - a tenth of the population - and a million outside, in a conflict that has left 70,000 dead.


He says his organization will need to almost double the number of people it reaches by the end of the year.  "It's no secret that the conflict is intensifying, or has been intensifying over the last month," said the WFP's deputy regional emergency coordinator.


"The two parties of the conflict are digging in. ... We are trying to keep up with the enormity of the crisis and the impact of the brutality," he said.


Syria's once-peaceful uprising against four decades of family rule turned violent after President Bashar al-Assad's forces killed and arrested thousands, turning civil unrest into armed conflict.

Now huge swathes of the country are effectively lawless and independent armed groups on both sides have emerged, creating access and security issues for humanitarian groups. ...


Photo: Syrian refugee children queue as they wait to receive aid from Turkish humanitarian agencies at Bab al-Salam refugee camp in Syria near the Turkish border in this December 22, 2012 file photo. Credit: Sahmed Jadalla, Reuters files

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Increasing Public Investment in Africa’s Agriculture

Increasing Public Investment in Africa’s Agriculture | Food Security & Sustainability | Scoop.it

13 October 2013, Relief Web via World Bank -- "In Africa, agriculture growth is critical for reducing poverty. Most public investments don’t provide agriculture with adequate and appropriately allocated resources. CAADP promotes agricultural investments and is entering its next phaseHow can Africa boost agricultural productivity and increase public investments in a sector that employs as much as 70% of the continent’s population? That was the question put to Agriculture and Finance Ministers from Sub-Saharan Africa during two side events timed to coincide with this year’s World Bank-IMF Annual Meetings.“In Africa, even more so than in other regions in the world, agriculture growth is hugely important for any effort to end poverty and promote shared prosperity,” Makhtar Diop, World Bank Vice President for Africa, told the Ministers. “Economic activity in agriculture typically accounts for 30 to 40% of GDP, and there is global evidence showing that productivity improvements in agriculture can have a poverty impact close to three times that of other sectors of society.”At the first meeting on October 9, participants discussed “Sustaining the Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP) Momentum.” Launched by African leaders in 2003, CAADP seeks to encourage governments to increase investments into the agricultural sector and allocate 10% of their public expenditures to the agriculture sector. The World Bank, the African Union Commission (AUC) and the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) hosted the meeting. .."

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Kiva and Fair Trade USA Launch Innovative Loan Program for Small Coffee Farmers

Kiva and Fair Trade USA Launch Innovative Loan Program for Small Coffee Farmers | Food Security & Sustainability | Scoop.it

11 October 2023, Triple Pundit -- "The collaboration aims to help small-scale coffee farmers access financing, improve crop quality, protect the environment, and invest in the future of their families and communities. ..."

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World Food Prize Laureate Robert Fraley: Innovation and Communication Needed to Safely Feed a Growing Population

World Food Prize Laureate Robert Fraley: Innovation and Communication Needed to Safely Feed a Growing Population | Food Security & Sustainability | Scoop.it

17 October 2013, BusinessWire via Monsanto -- "

Monsanto Chief Technology Officer and World Food Prize laureate Dr. Robert Fraley confirmed Monsanto’s commitment to broader open dialogue to address questions around innovations in agriculture, including biotechnology.


“Innovation is key to feeding a rapidly growing global population while also protecting the environment,” Fraley said. “But better dialogue is needed to build understanding and consensus in addressing some of humanity’s biggest challenges.”


Fraley, who will accept the 2013 World Food Prize this evening along with Dr. Mary-Dell Chilton and Dr. Marc Van Montagu, outlined the challenges in feeding the world’s population while also coping with climate change and protecting the environment. Speaking to scientists, farmers, educators and students at the 2013 Borlaug Dialogue Symposium, Fraley emphasized the potential of innovation to help society manage these rapidly growing challenges. ..."

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Private Sector Participation in the Farm Input Subsidy Programme in Malawi (FAC Policy Brief)

Private Sector Participation in the Farm Input Subsidy Programme in Malawi (FAC Policy Brief) | Food Security & Sustainability | Scoop.it

July 2013, Ephraim W. Chirwa and Andrw R. Dorward -- "The Farm Input Subsidy Programme (FISP) in Malawi has been implemented since the 2005/06 season with the objective of improving household and national food production and incomes. It targets more than 1.5 million farm families who receive subsidised fertilisers, improved maize seeds and/or legume seeds. The implementation of the FISP has involved the interaction of the Government of Malawi, the private sector, development partners, civil society organisations (CSOs), non-governmental organisations (NGOs), traditional leaders and smallholder farmers, all playing different roles in the implementation and success of the programme. The private sector has played a critical role, but its involvement in the programme has changed over time. This has included the procurement of fertilisers, the transportation of fertilisers to various markets, the retail sale of fertilisers, and the production and sale of improved seeds. ..."

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South Dakota's cattle cataclysm: why isn't this horror news?

South Dakota's cattle cataclysm: why isn't this horror news? | Food Security & Sustainability | Scoop.it

14 October 2013, The Guardian, Carrie Mess -- "Ranchers in South Dakota lost tens of thousands of cattle from a freak storm. Thanks to the shutdown, no one is paying attention. ..."Photo: A dead cow is lifted from flooding in the aftermath of winter storm Atlas in South Dakota. Credit: Lacey Weiss

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Government Of Pakistan Donates 150,000 Metric Tons Of Wheat To WFP In 2013

22 October 2013, WFP -- "The Pakistan Economic Coordination Committee has announced the release of 75,000 metric tons of wheat to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP). This completes the entire donation of 150,000 metric tons pledged by the Government of Pakistan for 2013.  WFP recently concluded delivery of the first half released earlier this year in support of families affected by law enforcement operations in the country’s north-west.This latest contribution follows sizeable in-kind donations from the federal government and the provincial governments of Sindh and Balochistan last year. More than 70,000 metric tons of wheat were successfully delivered to disaster-affected communities in 2012, thanks to complementary funding from other donors to cover the processing and transportation of the wheat. ..."

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Harvesting both timber and Brazil nuts in Peru’s Amazon forests: Can they coexist?

Harvesting both timber and Brazil nuts in Peru’s Amazon forests: Can they coexist? | Food Security & Sustainability | Scoop.it

7 November 2013, CIFOR -- "In the Brazil nut forests of the Peruvian Amazon, scientists from the Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) are trying to resolve a controversial question: can selective timber harvesting coexist with Brazil nut production?


Brazil nuts are giant Amazonian trees that produce huge fruits – called “cocos” in Peru for their resemblance to coconuts. Every year between November and March, as the rain falls on the western Amazon, they tumble to the forest floor, where they’re cracked open by rodents – or humans with machetes.


“The Brazil nut is special because it’s the only internationally traded nut that comes from tropical primary forest,” says Manuel Guariguata, a senior CIFOR scientist who is leading the study. ..."

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Can Salmon Farming Be Sustainable? Maybe, If You Head Inland

Can Salmon Farming Be Sustainable? Maybe, If You Head Inland | Food Security & Sustainability | Scoop.it

2 May 2013, Alastair Bland, NPR -- "Land-based farms are a big step forward, scientists say. But it's not clear if they're scalable.


... For years, many marine biologists have argued that the floating, open-ocean net pens that produce billions of pounds of salmon per year also generate pollution, disease and parasites.


In some places in western Canada, the open-ocean salmon farming industry has been blamed for the collapse of wild salmon populations in the early 2000s — though other research has challenged that claim.


But now, a few salmon farms have moved inland, producing fish in land-locked cement basins separated from river and sea. One land-based fish farm in West Virginia has been commended as a sustainable alternative to conventionally produced salmon. On Vancouver Island, there is at least one such facility. And just last month, Willowfield Enterprises, based in Langley, British Columbia, harvested its first inland-farmed sockeye salmon, to be marketed under the brand name West Creek. Sockeye is a Pacific species that has rarely been cultivated before.


"In terms of environmental sustainability, I think [these closed-system farms are] a huge step forward," says Martin Krkosek, an assistant professor at the University of Toronto who has been among the leading critics of ocean net pen salmon production. "Waste material, disease, pollution, parasites — all these things aren't a concern with most closed-system aquaculture."


Some forms of aquaculture may have the potential to help ecosystems by taking fishing pressure off of wild fish stocks. But this hasn't been the case with the salmon farming industry, argues Daniel Pauly, a professor of fisheries at the University of British Columbia. One reason why, Pauly tells The Salt, is that the food that salmon farmers feed to their fish is usually fish meal made from wild — sometimes overfished — species. He points out that humans could be eating these species instead of farmed salmon. ..."


Photo: These sockeye salmon were raised at a land-based fish farm in Langley, British Columbia. Credit: Willowfield Enterprises

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Tobacco farmers could grow chickpeas for PepsiCo Hummus

Tobacco farmers could grow chickpeas for PepsiCo Hummus | Food Security & Sustainability | Scoop.it

5 May 2013, Triple Pundit, Tina Casey -- "PepsiCo's hummus company, The Sabra Dipping Co., could entice tobacco farmers into growing chickpeas.


In answer to a tidal wave of consumer demand for hummus, more U.S. farmers are beginning to grow chickpeas, and that trend comes with an interesting twist. As reported by David Kesmode ofThe Wall Street Journal, currently the Pacific Northwest leads the U.S. in chickpea cultivation, but the East Coast’s tobacco country could be the next hotspot in the hummus supply chain.


If that does happen, much of the credit could go to PepsiCo. The iconic beverage company has been practically pickled in chickpeas for the past couple of years, and its interest in U.S. chickpea production demonstrates how CSR goals can go beyond performing the role of add-on, to play a vital role in a forward-looking business model. ..."

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Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Outlines USDA Efforts to Raise a Healthier Generation of Americans; Highlights Improvements to the National School Lunch Program

1 May 2013, USDA News -- "Chefs Move to Schools initiative gets a boost ... 


Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today highlighted improvements to school meals, a cornerstone of USDA's efforts to create a generational change to improve childhood nutrition. The Secretary also discussed efforts to create new partnerships with chefs around the country to positively impact the eating habits of children.


In remarks at MMi Culinary Services, Vilsack noted that USDA has made significant progress in improving the foods served to 32 million children each day through the National School Lunch Program. After the changes implemented by the Healthy, Hunger-free Kids Act of 2010, foods served in the lunch line include more fruits and vegetables, with less sugar, fat and sodium.


"Parents work hard to instill good eating habits in their children, and those efforts are being supported by the foods served in the school lunch line," said Vilsack. "USDA encourages partnerships between food service professionals, school administrators and industry to help make continued progress on food served in our schools. We continue to provide support for schools through additional reimbursements and technical assistance, while working with partners across America to find creative solutions to improve school nutrition."


USDA has also partnered closely with Chefs Move to Schools

working with chefs around the country to enhance school lunches, engage students in the food preparation process, and educate children about food and healthy eating. Chefs Move to Schools is a coalition supported by the School Nutrition AssociationShare Our Strength, and other partners, which seeks to utilize the creativity and culinary experience of chefs to support school meal programs and instill healthy eating habits in kids. These organizations intend to formalize a partnership with USDA to strengthen the program and promote healthier school environments.

"Chefs are incredibly creative and passionate about food, and have the skills to create healthy meals that are appealing to a variety of audiences. We are thrilled that these chefs are taking their skills and applying them to supporting the health and nutrition of our next generation," said Vilsack.


Secretary Vilsack noted the twin threats of childhood obesity and malnutrition to a healthier next generation. Over the course of the past 30 years, the prevalence of childhood obesity has nearly tripled. Nearly one in three American children and adolescents today are overweight or obese. Some of those children come from low-income families, where access to healthy food choices and opportunities for physical activity can be limited. Nearly a third of our nation's young people are at risk for preventable diseases like type-2 diabetes and heart disease. Preventable diseases have serious consequences – which is why health experts tell us that our current generation of children may well have a shorter lifespan than their parents.


Vilsack said that USDA empowers Americans to make healthier food choices by providing science-based information and advice, while expanding access to healthy food availability.


  • USDA's MyPlate symbol and the resources at ChooseMyPlate.gov provide quick, easy reference tools for parents, teachers, healthcare professionals and communities.
  • USDA also created SuperTracker, a free online planning and tracking tool used by over two million Americans daily to help them improve food choices, maintain a healthy weight, and track physical activity.
  • Through USDA's Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative, the Department has worked to increase access to nutritious food through the development of strong local and regional food systems. The number of farmers markets increased by more than 67 percent in the last four years and there are now more than 220 regional food hubs in operation around the country.


In his meeting with MMi, the Secretary also noted the importance of companies, such as MMi, who are making business choices that improve the health of children. Vilsack also stressed the importance of public-private partnerships in supporting the health of our next generation.


Chefs Move to Schools was launched in 2010 by First Lady Michelle Obama and Sam Kass, now the Executive Director of Let's Move! USDA continues working with the First Lady on the Let's Move!initiative, which is helping to promote healthy eating and physical activity among American families. Through the combined efforts of USDA and its partners, the United States is beginning to see progress and improvements in the health of our Nation's children. ..."


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Appeals court upholds USDA decision to commercialize biotech alfalfa

20 May 2013, Capital Press -- "

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has refused to overturn the USDA's decision to commercialize genetically engineered alfalfa.


The federal appeals court has upheld a previous decision, which found that USDA lacked the authority to regulate the biotech crop once it was determined not to be a plant pest risk.


Roundup Ready alfalfa was developed by Monsanto to withstand glyphosate herbicides and was fully deregulated in 2011 after the USDA's Animal and Plant Health. ..."


- See more at: http://www.capitalpress.com/content/mp-alfalfa-ruling-051713#sthash.uExcEaal.dpuf 

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Rising consumer demand aids organic industry sway

18 May 2013, Capital Press, Mary Clare Jalonick -- "The organic food industry is gaining influence on Capitol Hill, prompted by its entry into traditional farm states and by increasing consumer demand.


That's not going over well with everyone in Congress.


Tensions between conventional and organic agriculture boiled over this week during a late-night House Agriculture Committee debate on farm legislation that for decades has propped up traditional crops and largely ignored organics. 



"That's one of the things that has caught me and raises my concerns, is that industry's lack of respect for traditional agriculture," said Rep. Austin Scott, R-Ga. He was referring to some organic companies' efforts to reduce the number of genetically modified crops in the marketplace.


At the same time, Scott acknowledged that he and his wife buy organic foods.


Growing consumer interest in organics has proved tough for some Republicans on the committee to ignore. Eight Republicans, most of them newer members of the committee, joined with all of the committee's Democrats in supporting the amendment, which was adopted 29-17. ..."


- See more at: http://www.capitalpress.com/content/AP-organic-foods-051713#sthash.uO7GfvPn.dpuf

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Five Global Seed Banks That Are Protecting Biodiversity

Five Global Seed Banks That Are Protecting Biodiversity | Food Security & Sustainability | Scoop.it

12 October 2013, Worldwatch Blog, Victoria Russo -- "Almost all food begins with a seed. Even when people eat meat or other animal products, those animals were most likely fed on grasses or grains that began as seeds. Seeds are the basis of plant life and growth, and without them, the world would go hungry.The world is home to hundreds of thousands of species of plants, and it requires a diverse variety of seeds to satisfy nutritional and environmental needs. Today, Nourishing the Planet takes a closer look at five seed banks that aim to protect biodiversity and help feed the world.The world requires a diverse variety of seeds to satisfy nutritional and environmental needs. ..."Photo Credit: jamesandeverett.com 1. Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank Project, Wakehurst, England2. Navdanya, Uttrakhand, India founded by Vandana Shiva in 1987)3. Svalbard Global Seed Vault, Svalbard, Norway4. National Center for Genetic Resources, Fort Collins, Colorado5. Vavilov Research Institute, Russia

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Farmers First: Linking Agricultural Research To Results In The Field

Farmers First: Linking Agricultural Research To Results In The Field | Food Security & Sustainability | Scoop.it
Forbes -- "The irony is that most of the world’s hungry are themselves farmers. Agriculture is their primary means of employment, but they are not able to grow enough to even feed their families. It’s clear that those dedicated to the cause of development and the alleviation of rural poverty have one over-riding imperative: increasing agricultural productivity sustainably. ..."
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