FAO in North America

How to reduce your foodprint

Submitted by Teresa Buerkle on January 22, 2013

Simple actions by consumers and food retailers can dramatically cut the 1.3 billion tonnes of food lost or wasted each year. Think.Eat.Save. – a new campaign launched today by FAO and the United Nations Environment Programme – aims to cut food waste worldwide and help shape a sustainable future.

Wasted food also means wasted energy, land, water and lost opportunities to improve lives. Learn more about ways to reduce your foodprint.

cereal losses

Oxfam hosts online debate on future of agriculture

Submitted by Teresa Buerkle on December 7, 2012

Oxfam will host a virtual roundtable conversation about the future of agriculture December 10-21.

Over 20 thought leaders on agriculture from around the world, including FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva, have written short essays that will be posted over the next two weeks. Roger Thurow, Senior Fellow at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, will provide a mid-event analysis and final summary remarks.

Two new essays will be posted daily, and readers are encouraged to respond to the experts’ ideas and share their own. All essays and comments will inform an Oxfam discussion paper to be published in 2013 and feed into Oxfam’s long-term project, research, and advocacy planning.

If it’s broke, fix it

Submitted by Teresa Buerkle on August 3, 2012

Wondering what you can do to fix the broken food system? Oxfam’s Grow Campaign suggests five simple things we can all do every day to help tackle hunger and make the food system work better for everyone. Check out their new report, The Food Transformation: Harnessing consumer power to create a fair food future.

The also have a cool new video:

Innovation Friday

Submitted by Teresa Buerkle on August 3, 2012

Africa Rural Connect – an online global collaboration network run by the National Peace Corps Association – recently announced the winners of its Young Farmers Idea Contest, designed to find new ways to engage young farmers in agricultural development in rural Africa.

The grand prize went to Backpack Farm and its mobile app – KUZA Doctor – to help smallholder farmers in Kenya manage their production from ‘farm to fork’ with information on crop management and irrigation, crop calendars, the value of biodiversity and conservation agriculture, and tutorials about farming and business. The group’s $5,000 prize will support development of a smartphone app to expand on their work promoting agricultural education through SMS messaging.

“What this contest showed is, in many ways, Africa is ahead of the United States on mobile computing,” said Molly Mattessich,  who manages the Africa Rural Connect project.

Second prize ($2,500) went to the One Hen Campaign, a micro-lending project to give one hen and one cage to women and youth in rural Africa. In exchange, recipients will return two young hens after six months. The program is designed to help get farmers started on their way toward owning a goat or a cow.

Third prize ($1,000) went to the Green Living Planet, which proposed a “keyhole garden” project to create a sustainable school lunch program for Tanzanian students.

In other innovation news, the Worldwatch Institute’s Nourishing the Planet blog this week highlights 12 innovations it says will help make U.S. and global agriculture more drought resilient and sustainable.

Hungry Planet 16: RIO+20 Special Report

Submitted by Teresa Buerkle on June 4, 2012

In the latest episode of Hungry Planet, researchers measure carbon levels stored within Tanzania’s forests; Brazilian farmers turn to sustainable agriculture to rehabilitate the natural environment; and Mali refugees arrive at the M’bera refugee camp in Mauritania in search of food and safety.

The Hungry Planet series showcases how the three UN food agencies – FAO, the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the World Food Programme – are working to address some of the world’s most pressing challenges in their joint battle against chronic hunger.

Climate-smart agriculture and green growth – can ICT help?

Submitted by Teresa Buerkle on March 5, 2012

©FAO/Hoang Dinh NamThe World Bank, FAO and the e-Agriculture community invite you to explore how information and communication technologies (ICT) can support “green growth” and climate-smart agriculture.

This is the second in a series of discussions following the publication of the World Bank’s “ICT in Agriculture” Sourcebook, responding to the growing demand for knowledge on how to use ICTs to improve agricultural productivity and raise smallholder incomes.

The current forum, which runs from 5-16 March, will look at how ICTs are being used to make farming practices more environmentally sustainable.

Do you have experiences to share on how ICTs are helping improve soil management and land use planning? Or examples of how mobile phones are being used to get climate-smart agriculture information or data to farmers?

Join the discussion.

Food security under pressure

Submitted by Rachel Friedman on January 23, 2012

The International Council for Science (ICSU) is publishing a set of policy briefs in preparation for the 20th United Nations Convention on Sustainable Development (UNCSD RIO+20). One of these is on food security, and on the challenges to feeding the world sustainability and potential solutions. The brief advocates a “food systems” approach that emphasizes resilience and equity. Because access issues contribute greatly to food insecurity, the authors not only address concerns over production, but also distribution and trade. Read the full brief, Food security for a planet under pressure, on the ICSU website.

Generation Organic

Submitted by Teresa Buerkle on December 14, 2011

While many young people in the United States have been leaving family farms behind, and the average age of farmers continues to rise, NPR’s All Things Considered explores a surge in interest in organic farming among young people. Read more or listen to the story: Who are the Young Farmers of ‘Generation Organic‘.

A global land use challenge

Submitted by Rachel Friedman on December 8, 2011

A new report from The National Wildlife Federation offers policy recommendations to reconcile the conflicting demands of forest conservation, agricultural production and climate change mitigation.

Addressing the questions of how to feed a growing global population while at the same time curbing deforestation, deleterious land use conversion and associated greenhouse gas emissions, The Food, Forest and Carbon Challenge proposes strategies for meeting food demands and protecting forests.

While the authors of the report stipulate that agriculture is a primary driver of deforestation, they also recognize the need to increase production. One of the primary messages is that yield gains are necessary to curb agricultural expansion, yet alone they will not be sufficient to protect forests. Forest protection efforts and policies are argued to be essential to curb demand for more land-intensive products, such as beef and vegetable oils. Biofuels are also a contentious subject in the report, spurring recommendations to only promote them where it is possible to use waste and biomass from otherwise unproductive lands.

So what does this publication put forth as the next frontier? More research is needed on the potential of “underutilized land, particularly land in countries likely to experience agricultural expansion.”

Making agriculture energy-smart

Submitted by Teresa Buerkle on November 29, 2011

The food sector accounts for around 30 percent of global energy consumption and produces over 20 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to a new FAO report released today at the climate talks in Durban, South Africa.

The report, Energy-Smart Food for People and Climate, outlines opportunities to increase food systems efficiency by reducing fossil fuel use, and by reducing losses and waste throughout the food chain. It also highlights the tremendous potential for agriculture to produce more of the energy needed to feed the planet and spur rural development.

Watch a video with FAO’s Peter Holmgren to learn more about the links between energy, agriculture and food.

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