Robynne Anderson's Emerging Thoughts on Ag

2018 in Review

Happy Holidays!

As 2018 comes to a close, here is a short selection of some of our proudest accomplishments of the past year.

January

The Outreach Network for Gene Drive Research launched

The Outreach Network for Gene Drive Research was created and launched this year with Emerging as its Secretariat. The network supports coordination among members, information sharing, and engagement with key stakeholders, in order to raise awareness of the value of gene drive research for the public good and of the need for continuous efforts in its advancement. Their work this year focused on engagement in the policy process for the Convention for Biological Diversity, which met for the 14th Conference of the Parties (COP14) in Egypt in November. An open letter was published ahead of the convention to discuss how research on gene drive technology can benefit environmental conservation and public health goals. Take a look at their website for more information on the work they do.

Target Malaria develops new resources

Our collaboration with the Target Malaria project is growing strong and we’re excited to be helping a group tackling such an important issue. This year we’ve supported the creation of new communication tools that support learning and understanding of the project. These include; development of infographics, factsheets, as well as a series of videos, such as one made to describe the mark, release and recapture process as it collects information on mosquito vectors in Burkina Faso.

Emerging Team Retreat

The Emerging team gathered in Calgary, Alberta, for their annual winter team retreat. Together we were able to review our work, and had time to enjoy the Canadian snow!

February

World Pulses Day

On behalf of the Global Pulse Confederation (GPC), Emerging has been advocating for the establishment of World Pulses Day. Burkina Faso has taken the leadership in advocating for Wold Pulses Day. The government hosted a celebration on February 10, 2018 in Ouagadougou and around the country. Since then, the Second Committee of the 73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) adopted, by consensus, in November 2018 a draft resolution establishing 10 February as World Pulses Day (WPD). The establishment of this day will be a lasting legacy of the enormously successful 2016 International Year of Pulses. The draft resolution should soon be endorsed by the Plenary of the UN General Assembly making the WPD a Day to be observed and celebrated internationally. Learn more here. Read More

Global Campaigning on Global Goals: North American Tea Conference

Last month, I had the opportunity to speak at the North American Tea Conference in Niagara Falls, Ontario. Global Campaigning on Global Goals: At a time when tea is benefitting from social and health trends, it is timely to make sure your promise lives up to modern expectations. The Global Goals agreed by the United Nations, known at the Sustainable Development Goals, apply to all countries–developed and developing–and provide the basis for social license to operate. The Sustainable Development Goals are the key lines currently shaping the global development agenda. As such, they are responsible for both directing and informing internationally significant ongoing trends and perspectives with regards to socio-economic and ethical issues, the environment, and human health. They have been agreed upon by the United Nations, and apply to all countries, developed and developing alike. Aligning values and practices with the 2030 Agenda is therefore crucial for any business seeking to make a positive contribution to the well being of the planet, and the people who inhabit it. This is doubly important in sectors comprising world spanning networks of trade, information, and investment, such as the tea industry. The vast and internationally interconnected nature of their supply chains creates enormous potential for progressive policies to generate exceptional achievements in combating poverty and myriad forms of deprivation.

There are many Goals that are particularly relevant to the tea sector, including:

  • Goal 1 “no poverty”. The tea community has an important role to play in ensuring that all men and women, in particular the poor and the vulnerable, have equal rights to economic resources and access to basic services. They can do this by empowering youth and smallholder farmers, and ensuring that wages and working conditions for all of those implicated in their supply chains provide a standard of living above global poverty thresholds.
  • Goal 2 “zero hunger”. In an increasingly hungry world, improving the sustainability of supply chains, investing in agronomics, and diverting surplus that would otherwise end up as food waste to food banks can make a big difference.
  • Goal 5 “gender equality”. Tea companies must put in place gender inclusion programs, and guarantee that women in their supply chains benefit from security, social protection services, and the possibility of maternity leave.
  • Goal 6 “clean water and sanitation”. Businesses must seek to make their water use as efficient as possible, and crack down on wastage.
  • Goal 8 “decent work and economic growth”. This will only be achievable through scaling-up sustainable supply chains, including processing and packaging activities, and ensuring that appropriate labor standards are enforced throughout.
  • Goal 12 “responsible production and consumption”. This will entail businesses cutting down on food loss and waste at every stage of their supply chains, and investigating the life cycle of the packaging they employ, to make them as environmentally sustainable as possible.
  • Goal 13 “climate action”. Mitigating the impacts of climate change is a moral imperative, meaning that tea industry leaders must explore practices such as carbon off-setting and climate-smart agriculture, to attempt to reduce as much as possible their greenhouse gas footprints.
  • Goal 14 “life below water”. In addition to efficiently managing trade-offs in water demand between agricultural and urban users, companies must also seek to minimize, and eventually eliminate their contributions to marine pollution
  • Goal 15 “life on land”. Around 1.6 billion people currently depend on forests for their livelihoods. More sustainable forestry practices must be a key component of tea industry operations going forward, given that the tea drying process can use as much as the output of one hectare of timber to dry the output of three hectares of tea, and that tea plantations are often located in or around biodiversity hotspots.
  • Goal 17 “partnerships for the goals”. Finally, active engagement with the Goals and those seeking to fulfill them will be vital to any business seeking to make a difference. This will require a pro-active approach to monitoring and reporting on relevant economic, social, and governance indicators related to their activities and supply chains.

Each of these goals presents wonderful opportunities for the tea industry to prove themselves leaders in ongoing global efforts to build a brighter and more sustainable future.

Robynne Anderson is awarded the 2018 Women in Agribusiness Demeter Award of Excellence

I am honored to say that, along with two other exceptional women, I have been chosen to receive the 2018 WIA Demeter Award of Excellence. The award recognizes those who have achieved excellence in their field or demonstrated an extraordinary contribution to the agribusiness industry.
 

“Nominated as a “visionary leader and facilitator of change… a leading international expert on agriculture and food policies, and a trusted, collaborative partner for our Canadian industry,” Robynne Anderson’s roots in ag go back to growing up on a seed farm in Manitoba. Anderson went on to found and lead two successful agribusinesses: Issues Ink, an agricultural publishing company, and Emerging Ag, an international consulting firm that provides communications services to ag, food and health clients. 

Anderson’s contributions to agriculture are diverse. Internationally, Anderson is the founder of Farming First, a coalition for global ag advocacy; she also helped build the International Agri-Food Network; and has worked closely with the UN to establish the group’s 2016 International Year of Pulses, and Voluntary Guidelines on Responsible Agricultural Investment. She has worked extensively to increase the attention on the role of women farmers, and support land tenure rights for women in places where those rights don’t exist.”

Learn more about the award and its recipients here.

Balancing our Approach to Agriculture: The Global Livestock Advocacy for Development

I have thoroughly enjoyed working on the Global Livestock Advocacy for Development (GLAD) project. GLAD is a two-year project working to raise interest in livestock-related research for development. 

GLAD distils and presents evidence on sustainable livestock and its development impacts. Since the project was launched in 2016, progress has been exciting. Recently, key livestock actors convened at several high level international events and engaged stakeholders in livestock advocacy communications. This engagement led to the inclusion of livestock in key global policy discussions relating to food security and sustainable development. 

This project has highlighted why we need to rebalance our approach to agriculture and value all its components from crops, to livestock, to horticulture, to agro-forestry, to fisheries.

Read “Enhancing global livestock advocacy for sustainable development” on the ILRI news site.

Learn more about GLAD: 

whylivestockmatter.org/   

www.ilri.org/  

 

Tackling Childhood Growth Failure with Pulses

Pulses can be a major player in the fight against one of the most urgent global food challenges: malnutrition. A recent clinical study in Malawi has found that complementary feeding with cowpeas reduces stunting in children and improves overall gut health.

In African children, stunting usually occurs between 6 to 15 months, when complementary foods are first introduced. When cowpeas were added to the complementary feeding of Malawian infants aged between 6 and 12 months, stunting significantly reduced in height by age scores. For children between 12 and 36 months, the addition of navy beans to their diets led to an improvement in gut health and reduced inflammation. With global trends showing a sobering increase in world hunger and malnutrition, this is an exciting development!

Despite increased focus on issues of hunger and malnutrition, trends show that we are still moving backwards in our fight against these challenges. Recent research has found that high levels of Child Growth Failure such as wasting and stunting continue to persist in Africa. In 2016, an estimated 36.6% of children under five were stunted, 8.6% wasted and 19.5% underweight in Sub-Saharan Africa. Childhood Growth Failure (CGF) was the second leading risk factor for child mortality and accounted for more than 23% of deaths of children under five. Africa is not expected to meet the Target to end malnutrition, specifically wasting and stunting, by 2030.

To tackle the issue of stunting in children, an affordable and accessible solution like this one is critical. The Feed the Future Legume Innovation Lab, supporters of this research, “believe that grain legume supplements in diets could be game changers for addressing stunting and gut health in undernourished young children in developing countries”, and we commend their good work towards this goal. These positive research outcomes an excellent reminder of why Burkina Faso is leading the charge for a World Pulse Day to be declared.

Since the UN declared 2016 the International Year of Pulses, we have seen an increase in the awareness and consumption of pulses around the globe. Pulses are a nutrient powerhouse packed with protein, nutrients and amino acids; the results of this clinical study prove that they can be an impactful weapon in tackling the scourge of stunting in children, thus boosting food and nutrition security in the developing world.

Follow me for more reflections on agriculture, in Canada and across the world, on Twitter at @Robynne_A