What we’ve been reading this summer…

This summer’s roundup of eight of our favourite books, covering a diversity of topics including food security, nutrition, economics and climate change. Is your favourite missing? We welcome your suggestions and thoughts in the comments, below.

 

borlaugThe Man who Fed the world, Leon Hesser (here)

In this 2010 biography of Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Norman Borlaug, Hesser depicts a remarkable scientist and humanitarian who continues to have influence today.

According to a review by one of Borlaug’s biggest fans, Bill Gates, “Although a lot of people have never heard of Borlaug, he probably saved more lives than anyone else in history.”

This book is an insightful introduction to a fascinating man with a message that continues to be relevant.

 

getting betterGetting Better, Charles Kenny (here)

If you need some good news this book is for you. The book highlights cost effective technologies and powerful ideas that are truly transforming the world for the better. Argued with optimism as well as realism, this is a chance to step back and appreciate some examples of ‘what went well’.

“Elegant and deeply researched- a powerful antidote to overly gloomy assessments of development aid-Charles Kenny shines a light on the real successes of aid, and he shows us the benefits that additional smart investment can bring.” – Bill Gates, Wall Street Journal

[Read more…]

What we’ve been reading this week

This week’s summary of the news stories, reports, and blogs that have grabbed our attention. We welcome your thoughts and comments on these articles.

Visiting drought prone regions in Tanzania, WINnERS

Institutional support of weather index insurance for smallholder integration, The Chicago Council

African Union to Use Imports Cash to Get $1.2 Billion Funds, Bloomberg

Guest commentary – raising agricultural productivity in Africa, The Chicago Council

Winning Innovators Pitch Pulse Products at IFT2016, Farming First

From field to fridge, food waste is everywhere, Grist

Climate scientists expected ‘nothing like’ this year’s record-breaking global temperatures, The Independent

From Science to Action: Academia and Decision-Makers Unite in SUN Countries, SUN

Africa: Recruiting Lumberjacks, Architects and Carpenters to Combat Climate Change, AllAfrica

IFPRI 2015 Annual Report, IFPRI  [Read more…]

Institutional support of weather index insurance for smallholder integration

By Christopher Au, PhD candidate, Imperial College London, and 2016 Next Generation Delegate

Originally posted by The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, July 21st 2016

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Credit: Flore de Preneuf/World Bank

Growing Food for Growing Cities, by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, delivers prescient conclusions on the future manifestation of supply chains, as urbanization and wealth generation influence the structure and orientation of social activities. Currently, the quantity of smallholder produced food to meet domestic demand is underwhelming, primarily caused by lagging productivity rates. From a social welfare perspective, smallholder agricultural underperformance constitutes a drain on economic activity.

Stagnant productivity rates are in part due to sparse use of improved inputs, where uncertain crop performance and risk of lost income deters investment, locking smallholders into a low risk, low return production strategy. Uninsured risk prompts costly self-insurance strategies, stunting economic development, hindering poverty alleviation efforts, and preventing a meaningful contribution from smallholders to food security. [Read more…]

What we’ve been reading this week

This week’s summary of the news stories, reports, and blogs that have grabbed our attention. We welcome your thoughts and comments on these articles.

Food Waste and Food Security

Innovating for Urban Food Security in Africa, Gain

Food Security Portal, IFPRI

Farming and forestry can deliver food security, says UN, BBC News

Action to cut food waste gains momentum across Europe, The Guardian

Ending Hunger and Poverty: A snapshot of progress, Feed the Future

Is resilience a useful concept in the context of food security and nutrition programmes? Some conceptual and practical considerations, EconPapers

CIMMYT 2015 annual report ‘Building resilience to risk’ now available online, CIMMYT

ReFed Video Illustrates the Problem of Food Waste, FoodTank

High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) and the SDG Report, 2016

The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2016, UN [Read more…]

Finding hope in a gloomy view: the state of SDG 2

SDG report picBy Alice Marks, @alicemarks0

On 19th July, the first annual report on the progress of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) was launched as part of the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) at the United Nations headquarters in New York. The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2016 is designed to set the benchmark for the next 15 years over which the goals will be implemented by evaluating where the world stands now against them.

Although agricultural development will have an impact on every one of the 17 SDGs, it is nowhere more evident than in SDG 2, which aims to “End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.” So where do we currently stand against this goal?

  1. Nearly 800 million people are still hungry

Despite progress made under the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), more than 790 million people around the world still suffer from hunger. According to the report, at the start of the new millennium 15% of people in the world were undernourished, and by 2015 this proportion was down to 11%. Although this is certainly progress, there is still a long way to go. Experiences from the MDGs indicate that, where countries failed to reach their target for reducing hunger, it was predominantly due to natural or human-induced disasters, and political instability. With a rising global population and a changing climate, resources such as land and water are likely to become increasingly limited, exacerbating these risk factors. This could destabilise progress towards SDG2, particularly in regions such as sub-Saharan Africa where, according to the report, more than 50% of the adult population face moderate or severe levels of food insecurity. [Read more…]

What we’ve been reading this week

This week’s summary of the news stories, reports, and blogs that have grabbed our attention. We welcome your thoughts and comments on these articles.

Climate Change and Environment

Mainstreaming Ecosystem Services and Biodiversity into Agricultural Production and Management in East Africa, FAO

United we stand: Reforming the UN to reduce climate risk, E3G

What Africa’s drought responses teach us about climate change hotspots, The Conversation

Double shock of El Nino, La Nina could affect more than 100 mln people – UN, Thomson Reuters Foundation

Could climate impacts help keep the Paris Agreement on track? E3G

Ten ways the UK can maintain international leadership on climate change, iied

Hunger and Malnutrition

Aid agencies hail U.S. bill to end global hunger and malnutrition, Thomson Reuters Foundation

Scaling Up Nutrition: In Practice Issue 5 – From Science to Action, SUN

Congress Passed the Global Food Security Act. Here’s Why That’s Historic, The White House

Why the African food basket should be full of beans and other pulses, The Conversation [Read more…]

How putting the vulnerable first ultimately benefits all

By Alice Marks, @alicemarks0

Almost one year after the United Nations adopted the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), delegates are coming together this week in New York for the first High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development. The theme of the forum is “ensuring no one is left behind” and provides an opportunity for UN States Members and agencies to reflect on progress thus far on the SDGs, to identify cross-cutting issues, and address new or emerging challenges to achieving the goals.

A previous A4I blog series (part 1/part 2) looked at how agriculture is related to every one of the 17 goals. In the spirit of “ensuring no one is left behind” we’re now looking at how engaging marginalised and vulnerable groups can both contribute to achieving the SDGs and benefit these groups, particularly in the context of the agricultural sector.

Women

2015-03-02 14.39.18SDG 5 demands gender equality, calling for “equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to ownership and control over land and other forms of property, financial services, inheritance and natural resources.” These rights are particularly important for women who live in rural, agricultural areas. It is well documented that rural women are amongst the most likely to face barriers in accessing resources, such as quality seeds, fertilisers and credit, or gaining land rights. As a result of gender-related barriers, female farmers in Africa produce up to 25% less than men do. Yet, if these women could gain the same access to productive resources as their male counterparts, their yields would increase by 20–30% and raise total agricultural output by 2.5–4% annually. This alone would lift a total of 100 – 150 million people out of hunger. [Read more…]