Robynne Anderson's Emerging Thoughts on Ag

WHO Election

The race for the Secretary General of the UN is still looking complex, and now the new race to be head of the World Health Organisation has opened up. Please see a blog on the candidates by my friend Felix Dodds, a keen commentator on the UN: http://blog.felixdodds.net/2016/09/its-been-busy-week-in-new-york-with.html 

#IamAg

ff_iamag-infographicWhat could be more exciting than recruiting young people to agriculture?  Farming First is launching a great campaign called #IamAg campaign, to encourage more young people to take up agricultural careers.  Between now and 21st October, farmingfirst.org will be sharing the stories of ag professionals from across the globe, across the whole value chain.

Our first blog post is from 29 year old Judy Nyawira, Production Manager at Shamba Shape Up – share the story of how she became involved in the hit TV show!  I am thrilled to be adding my voice in the weeks ahead.  Here’s how you can get involved too…

  1. Sign up to our Thunderclap that will send a timed tweet out, declaring what great opportunities exist in agriculture, especially for youth
  2. Share or embed our infographic “Working in Agriculture” that showcases the many careers young people can pursue
  3. Tweet out our individual career illustrations – we may have illustrated your career! (attached)
  4. Add a badge to your Twitter or Facebook profile to declare “I am Ag”
  5. Share blogs, videos, case studies, advice and insights using #IamAg – and you could be turned into an illustration or feature in our wrap up video at the end of the campaign!
  6. Retweet our content – there will be plenty to choose from!

 

 

Oat Grower Overcomes Harvest Challenges to Support African Schools

Prairie Oat Growers Association President, and a good friend, Art Enns, sowed a 35-acre crop this spring with the generous intention of donating the revenues of the harvest to the Manyinga Project. With a wet and rainy start to the harvest season, Art was in store for an adventurous day in the field.  Read More

Tackling Malaria Through Innovation

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

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

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

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

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

Outcomes of the Pan-African Conference in Zambia

DSC_0114The pulse of development is often a bean.

The Pan-African Legumes conference is highlighting some of the outcomes of their meeting in Zambia. It was a pleasure to be a speaker regarding the International Year of Pulses. I’ve never seen such an enthused and dedicated audience at any meeting. Every workshop was packed, people were engaged, and they worked 12-14 hour days in session. More than 400 young scientists showed their passion for pulse crops, every one of whom is needed to foster the productivity of pulse crops and the diversity of the food system.

Read the event recap from the MSU publication ‘Futures’ here.