To supplement our student newsroom’s journalistic coverage of the economics and politics of organic solutions in global food affairs, we are building a research team to produce a report in order to inform a public webcast at the end of our coverage and to share with our audience.
Today, complex problems like the food crisis is not just an environmental issue, but concerns business, politics and economics as well. Through journalistic content and a multidisciplinary angle, we want to report on the economics and politics of global food production and consumption, with a focus on organic solutions.
Mini-Series: Impact Istanbul features conference highlights, round-ups, interviews, Q&A’s, and speaker profiles. It is part of our International Business Forum 2013 live coverage. This time, a look at smallholder farmers: Over 2 billion people in the world depend on small-scale agriculture for their livelihood. How can inclusive business help smallholder farmers? After visiting Ethiopia, where coffee originates, Martin Elwert and Robert Rudnick became fascinated with the complexity and diversity of coffee aromas.
For a topic coverage project on ‘Organic Solutions in Global Food Affairs’ in which we will investigate the economics and politics of global food production and consumption with an emphasis on organic farming, we are looking for a team of two editors to lead in editorial capacities and bring with them sector insights and a reporting background in international (economic) affairs.
Steady access to capital is still a long ways off for pioneering local food entrepreneurs in Detroit. However, cooperation amongst entrepreneurs and mounting advocacy for innovative business structures are bringing secure funding into the horizon. DETROIT, United States – Detroit’s local food pioneers are transforming the fallow landscape and bringing nutritious cuisine to eager restaurants and families all across this notorious food desert. Despite demand from the community, many of these entrepreneurs are struggling to secure capital. The path to stable funding is complex and subjective, but enormous strides can be made with better enterprise planning on a micro scale and policy advocacy for alternative business models on a macro scale.
Why agriculture? Having realized that consuming local foods is not always environmentally-preferable to consuming imported products (see my last post), what else can I do to save the planet as a conscious consumer? Obviously, I go for organic food. And as the number of fellow conscious consumers has significantly increased the last decade or so, aggregate demand for organic foods and drinks (OFD) has followed suit. In fact, the global market for OFD has more than tripled between 1999 and 2009.
I had the opportunity to attend “Taste of Change,” a well orchestrated dinner that engaged farmers, NGOs, UN Officials, intellectuals and Swiss government officials. The dinner commemorated the partnership between the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation SDC, Biovision and the Millennium Institute, which exists in order to bring about sustainable agricultural and development practices. The dinner was co-hosted by the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), Shumei, the Sustainable Food Trust and the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA). In order to showcase the collaboration of the organizations, the hosting organizations brought together a celebrity chef and a local farmer to develop the menu. One of the best organic food chefs, Chef Domencia Catelli, a Northern Californian who has cooked for celebrities like Julia Roberts and Lady Gaga, worked with fifth generation Japanese-Brazilian farmer, Flavio Fujita, who farms only organic produce. Together they developed a menu that was strictly vegetarian and with explicit local produce.
Suppose you are an environmentally conscious consumer living in, say, Scotland. You walk into the supermarket and feel like buying, say, strawberries. You are offered a choice between strawberries that are locally grown and strawberries imported from Spain. Everything else being equal, which one would you go for? Most “conscious consumers” would arguably go for the local type, thinking that it would be better for the environment.
Dominika Czyz is an alumni reporter and reports from the 6th European Organic Congress: Organic and high nature value farming shaping future food systems, 17-18 April, 2012, Copenhagen.
I believe in “the power of words”. If I were to choose a key word to describe the 6th European Organic Congress in Copenhagen, I would choose a circle. Not because of the circle being a symbol for perfection though. I have never managed to draw a perfect circle and believe nothing is perfect. Nevertheless, the struggle for perfection already creates a chance for improvement.
Water, food, and energy are fundamentally inter-connected. Before I began learning more about this water, food, and energy nexus leading up to the World Water Forum, I didn’t understand the full implications of this. Water is necessary for providing food and energy to populations in modern societies. Water is used to grow vegetables and grains that we consume and to feed animals that we consume. Water is used to cool power plants that produce our electricity and to process the gasoline used in our vehicles. Have you considered how much virtual water you “consume” through the food you eat and the electricity you use? The impacts also occur in other directions: access to energy allows easier transportation of food to those in need and the ability to utilize effective water-purification technologies. In a world increasingly concerned about water, food and energy security, it is important to understand the connections between them all. A threat to any one of them would impact the other two. While much of the World Water Forum focused on those lacking access to water and sanitation, there are 1.3 billion people lacking access to electricity and 1 billion people undernourished worldwide. Because water, food, and energy issues affect and are affected by one another so much, it is important to consider than together rather than in isolation. The High Level Panel: Water, Food, and Energy Nexus on Friday, March 16 discussed these interactions and proposed solutions.
The speakers at the high level panel included individuals from a range of countries and backgrounds: Uschi Eid (UN Secretary General’s Advisory Board on Water, Gérard Wolf (Electricité de France), Rodney Cooke (International Fund for Agricultural Development), Dilip Kulkarni (JAIN Irrigation Systems, India), Yasar Yakis (Turkish Parliament), Diego Bravo (Columbia), Jane Madgwick (Wetlands International), Thomas Chiramba (United Nations Environment Programme), Rhoda Tumusiime (African Union), Alain Vidal (Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research, Challenge Program on Water and Food), and Lee Yangho (Ministry of Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Korea).
What is the Key to ensuring that we can continue to have access to water, food, and energy in the future?
Low quality water is essentially wastewater that has been treated using high-level technology so that it can be used (or more aptly reused) to irrigate agricultural and industrial crops and recharge aquifers. Why would we switch to using low quality water when we currently use fresh water for agricultural irrigation? Sources of freshwater are steadily decreasing across the globe, and agriculture accounts for approximately 70% of the world’s freshwater withdrawal. As the world’s population increases and the amount of available freshwater decreases, water scarcity and food security will soon become two major concerns. The use of irrigation is also increasing to meet the food demands of a growing population. Already, there has been a net increase of 117% in irrigated land from 1961-2009, and in some countries, irrigation uses more than 40 percent of renewable water resources. Unfortunately, not all of this water reaches the crop; as much as 60% of water withdrawn for irrigation is lost through leakage, spillage, evaporation, or infiltration. How can we decrease the amount of freshwater withdrawn for irrigation? Well, first, technology, education and maintenance issues must be addressed to reduce lost water in
irrigation. One solution is also to reuse low quality water for irrigation to mitigate the global strain on freshwater.