Global Food Security blog

Contributors to this blog include academics, policy makers, farmers and end-users. To join the community of authors please email web@foodsecurity.ac.uk including details of your expertise, experience and a short synopsis of your proposed article.

Now is the time to build food security capacity, and there are funds to do it. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Christina Owen reports.

Christina Owen

On the Agricultural Development team at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, we’re working hard to put ourselves out of a job.

The primary way to ensure this happens is for individual countries to develop and own their own sustainable agricultural systems, and to make them work for their farmers.

But what does this sustainability look like?
Continue reading Pay dirt: Growing sustainable agricultural development systems

In a video special, the University of Warwick Crop Centre’s Andrew Tock tells the story of plant clinics that help people produce more and lose less.

Andrew Tock

My feet had landed on African ground for the first time. Despite flying into Entebbe in the wee hours of a mid-January morning, it was really warm. Looking at the low, red-orange full moon, I couldn’t stop smiling and felt a bit giddy. I had a feeling Uganda just had this effect on people.
Continue reading Bridging the information gap for smallholder farmers

Why is Britain increasingly reliant on food banks?

Protecting the human right to food is more important than ever, argues ESRC researcher Hannah Lambie-Mumford.

Hannah Lambie-Mumford

In the last few years we have seen the prolific growth of emergency food charity across the UK and sharply rising numbers of people turning to them for help with food. In 2010-2011 just over 61, 000 people received emergency food parcels from the country’s largest network of food banks – the Trussell Trust foodbank Network; in 2013-2014 that number had risen to over 913,000.
Continue reading Why is Britain increasingly reliant on food banks?

Cars, cows and carbon

Cutting an American family’s meat consumption by half is equivalent to getting rid of a car. Why isn’t the pressure on, asks Tim Benton.

Tim Benton

The most recent figures for carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere give one pause for thought. There was a bigger increase in CO2 in the atmosphere over the last year than had been recorded for many years; despite all we know, carbon is increasing faster than ever, and faster than imagined in IPCC’s ‘worst case’ scenarios.
Continue reading Cars, cows and carbon

Saving soil with intelligent machine use

Did we really run over our fields at random in 30 ton farming vehicles? Agri-consultant Tim Chamen wants to stop it happening now.

Tim Chamen

Speak to any experienced garden vegetable grower about the acceptability of running a car over their vegetable plot and I guess they would look at you in horror!

And yet this is what farmers worldwide have done with their machines for many years because of the difficulty of doing otherwise. As the drive for improved production efficiency has risen together with labour costs (PDF, 41pp), farm machines have increased dramatically in size and crucially in weight.
Continue reading Saving soil with intelligent machine use

The protein problem

Population growth and more meat-intensive diets require an increase in global protein production. NERC’s Jodie Clarke tucks into the issue.

Jodie Clarke

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) agricultural outlook for 2015-2030
total world meat production will continue to increase in this period by 1.5% per year while milk production is estimated to increase at 1.3% annually.

More meat and milk has escalated the demand for animal feed – a trend which has had some devastating
environmental effects in recent years.
Continue reading The protein problem

Insights on aquaculture: technology and development

How can fish-producing technology scale up to feed more people? GFS science writer Theresa Meacham casts the net wide.

Theresa Meacham

Having just launched the latest GFS Insight about Aquaculture (PDF), I have been thinking a lot about the role that fish have in our food system. For a start, in the UK we sell most of the fish we catch and eat imported fish mostly caught abroad!

Aquaculture production has increased at an average rate of 8.9% since 1970 in the UK. But in fact our industry is tiny compared to Asian production which is 89% of the global total. Some of the drivers behind this growth (despite exquisite taste!) have been the health benefits associated with eating fish and shellfish products, environmental pressures on land and wild fisheries as well as an increasing world population.
Continue reading Insights on aquaculture: technology and development

Raising food prices to end hunger

The doctrine that food prices should be kept as low as possible to end hunger is wrong, says former FAO agricultural economist Andrew MacMillan.

Andrew MacMillan

Most governments prefer to keep food prices “affordable” for their people. Many subsidise their farmers’ incomes to let them make a decent living while they sell their output for little more than it costs them to produce it. Countries justify these measures and relatively low taxes on foods as means of preventing poor people from suffering from hunger.
Continue reading Raising food prices to end hunger

Milking it in Malawi

The ‘white revolution’ could bring food security and economic benefits to Africa. Cesar Revoredo-Giha from Scotland’s Rural College reports from the field.

Cesar Revoredo-Giha

In recent years there has been talk of a ‘white revolution’ in milk production in Africa. Countries such as Tanzania and Uganda have looked to follow India in increasing per capita consumption of milk and dairy products.

We take the white stuff for granted in the West. It is so cheap and plentiful that it has even become derided as a source of modern ailments like allergies. But so long as you are not genuinely lactose intolerant, the balance of evidence favours milk as a good source of sugar, fats and nutrients. And in developing countries, this can be the difference between health and malnutrition.
Continue reading Milking it in Malawi

How can young agricultural entrepreneurs make the most of the continent’s opportunities? Sir Gordon Conway of Agriculture for Impact reports on the Montpellier Panel’s latest report.

Gordon Conway

The time has come to debunk a common myth about agriculture. It is not a dead-end profession that requires eternal, back breaking labour on a farm. At least, it does not have to be. With the right investments to support entrepreneurs in agriculture beyond the production stage, in processing, retail, marketing and even business management, profitable careers await Africa’s young population.
Continue reading Why Africa’s youth should not shun agriculture