Robynne Anderson's Emerging Thoughts on Ag

The Pope and the SDGs at the UN today!


17 Heads of State, 1 Pope, 17 goals for a new global partnership makes for a lot of security and a lot of media.

Thrill for one farm girl.

Canada’s Gun Deaths Creeping Up

Growing up in Canada, I’ve always known there to be a relatively high rate of gun ownership.  Living in a vast country with a lot of wilderness, a weapon is necessary in Northern communities or on most farms.  Even as close as our farm is to civilisation, it is known to have a bear or two, and certainly coyotes and other wildlife, regularly in the area. For the most part, I’ve always believed those guns weren’t likely to be aimed at people.

What surprised me in this excellent infographic, was how much higher our rate of deaths by guns is than similar countries like New Zealand, Australia, and Sweden.

Sure the US figures are so horrifying it is easy to miss the statistics for the rest of the world, but Canada is on the wrong side of the trajectory for number of guns opened versus number of deaths. It gives one pause, and makes me wonder what steps would be needed to drop those levels down to those of NZ or Scandanavia.

gun homicides per capita

World Bank Should Support Ag Now More Than Ever

It was just as we in agriculture feared – after seeing agriculture rise on the agenda in 2008-09, there are signs that momentum is waning.  An important symbol is the planned exit of the World Bank from funding for the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research commonly known as the CG. The CG is the most important public research body into agriculture and food.

The World Bank has been a funder of the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) since 1972 with their $50 million contribution. Recent budget discussions have resulted in a World Bank plan to phase out their support entirely in the coming two years. This is a very critical investment for hunger alleviation.  Global food security will not be achieved quickly or sustained without continued investment and innovation.

So this withdrawal of resources would send a terrible signal. Ariculture is facing challenges: weather extremes and gradual changes in temperature that affect yields, invasive pests and diseases, consumer demands for more product diversity and improved nutritional qualities, and the need for greater productivity to feed the world’s growing population from roughly the same amount of soil and water resources currently being used. World-class research is needed to address these challenges and the CGIAR must continue to generate the public knowledge that will spark global innovation.

In 2009, in L’Aquila, Italy, a Food Security Initiative was pursued by world leaders to prevent a reoccurrence of the crises created by the soaring food prices of 2007-2008 and better prepare for a food-secure future. Initiatives such as the Global Food Crisis Response program by the World Bank, or the bilateral Feed the Future initiative in the United States and the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition were launched to significantly increase global investments in food and agriculture, reversing years of stagnant or declining interest in these sectors.  Withdrawing funding would be a terrible message and all countries should be reminding the World Bank of that.

And the next UN Secretary General may be…

My friend Felix Dodds wrote an excellent blog on the race for the next UN Secretary General.  To be selected in 2016, it is a scattered field but I certainly think it is high time there is a female SG.  Undoubtedly regional considerations will be an important factor, but so should be the representation of one half the world’s population.

There is one name Felix omitted from his list that is worth discussion – Angela Merkel of Germany.

Nine Innovative Companies Revolutionizing the Food Industry

Fortune has created a list of 50 companies that are changing the agricultural world. These include companies working with innovative technologies like irrigation systems, or researching ways to mitigate and adapt to climate change using sustainable farming. Here are nine companies who are leaders in their field and are revolutionizing the food industry.

Whole Foods – This grocery store is based in Austin and pushed the focus on healthy, natural and nutritious foods. Because of their success, its competitors began carrying more organic food in order to still compete. Whole foods plans to open five lower-priced 365 stores by 2016, which will refuse to sell overfished seafood, pushes for animal welfare standards, and will require that all products which contain GMOs to be clearly labelled by 2018.

Jain Irrigation Systems – This Company has been selling micro-irrigation systems since 1986 which take the technology used in industrial agriculture and alter it for smaller family owned farms. This helps to increase their crop yields from 50 to 300 percent, and evidently improves the livelihoods of five million small farmers in India.

Unilever – This is the third largest consumer goods company which has helped train 800,000 farmers on how to grow more responsibly. Responsible farming is a huge aspect of the company as more than half of Unilever’s agriculture materials come from sustainable sources.

Danone – Danone is a French company that focuses on helping impoverished youths get the nutrition they need by studying the diets of youths from different countries, and creating food products packed with the nutrients they need. In Brazil, Danone creating a cheese low in sugar and full of vitamins, while Bangladesh’s youth consume 600,000 servings a week of Shokti-Doi, a nutritious yogurt.

SABMiller – This U.K beverage company helps to support the small businesses that carry its brews. In Uganda, it’s created a locally-developed sorghum beer, Eagle, which provides jobs for 20,000 local farmers. While in Latin America, SABMiller provides financial assistance to the 780,000 shops that sell its product. This increased the sales by 12.8 percent since 2013.

Starbucks – Starbucks has revolutionized the way we drink our morning coffee, and to top it off; 99 percent of the millions of pounds of coffee purchased this year will be ethically sourced, while Starbucks has invested $20 million in coffee farms to help benefit forty-thousand coffee farmers. Starbucks has also launched a job initiative to hire 100,000 jobless millennials that has been recently joined by 12 other major companies.

Cargill – Cargill produces more than 500,000 tons of edible oils in India each year. It was in 2008 that the company began making a big difference by fortifying its oils with Vitamin A and D. This has helped fight malnourishment and has sparked competitors to do the same.

Ayala – Prior to Ayala’s beginning in 1997, only 3% of the residents in Manila had access to a sewer system and a quarter of the homes had potable tap water. Today, its “Water for the Poor” program helps to assure that the area’s 1.8 million low-income homes have access to clean water around the clock.

Emerging is proud to have worked with Jain, Unilever, Danone, SABMiller, Cargill through PSM at CFS. For more information on these companies, visit FutureAg’s website.