Global policymakers, meeting in Kigali earlier this month at the 2nd Global Conference on Biofortification, committed to making biofortified nutritious foods more widely available in order to improve nutrition and health for millions of people around the world.
These foods include staples, such as bean, sweet potato, cassava, maize, pearl millet, rice, and wheat, that people rely upon for sustenance globally. Scientists from CGIAR, a global agricultural research partnership, have developed new varieties of these foods that are not only high yielding, but also more nutritious: they contain higher amounts of vitamin A, zinc, and iron that are essential to good health.
HarvestPlus, a CGIAR program to improve nutrition and public health that organized the conference, announced that biofortified nutritious food crops have already reached more than one million farmers globally. By forging new partnerships, it aims to reach more than 100 million people suffering from malnutrition with biofortified crops by 2018.
To support this goal, the CGIAR announced that its research centers will start improving mineral and vitamin content across all conventional breeding programs for food crops. Two of these centers, IRRI and CIMMYT, were instrumental in developing high yielding rice and wheat varieties as part of the Green Revolution in the 1960s. The new varieties were credited with saving hundreds of millions of lives from famine.
The full lineup of CGIAR centers, and the crops they are working on, are as follows: CIAT (iron beans and vitamin A cassava), CIMMYT (nutritious maize and zinc wheat), CIP (vitamin A orange sweet potato), ICARDA (iron, zinc and selenium lentils), ICRISAT (iron and zinc pearl millet and sorghum), IITA (vitamin A cassava and maize), and IRRI (zinc rice).
“At this conference the CGIAR Consortium and its members, the CGIAR Research Centers, have committed to make breeding for mineral and vitamin traits in their regular food crop development programs the norm. Agriculture is re-affirming its core purpose: to provide people, particularly those in greater need, with the nutritious foods necessary to lead healthier and more productive lives." said Frank Rijsberman, CEO of the CGIAR Consortium.
M. S. Swaminathan, Father of India's Green Revolution, called for an International Year of Underutilized and Biofortified Crops. "If this comes through, biofortification will receive further international recognition as an important approach to overcoming hidden hunger and malnutrition,” he said. He also announced that a "garden" of biofortified crops and varieties would be established at his research foundation in India to serve as an important resource for developing countries that wish to develop more nutritious food crops.
Chris Elias, President of the Global Development Program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation noted: "With biofortification, we now have an important new tool to add to the micronutrient intervention package, complementing supplementation, fortification, and nutrition education. The scientific evidence of [biofortification’s] efficacy is compelling.”
Ministerial delegations from Rwanda, Uganda, and Nigeria, all countries where biofortified nutritious crops have been released, said that these crops are being fully integrated into their agriculture and nutrition planning. In his remarks, Akinwumi Adesina, Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, reinforced this: "We need to build strong political will behind nutrient-rich crops, using top political leaders as nutrition champions. This is where the African Union and the Global Panel on Agriculture and Food Systems for Nutrition can play major roles."
Peter Malnak, USAID Mission Director for Rwanda said: "It is clear that biofortified crops are front and center among the array of new and improved technologies that Feed the Future, through USAID, is working with national, NGO, and private sector partners to promote. Whether it is iron beans here in Rwanda, or orange [vitamin A] maize in Zambia, we are working with HarvestPlus to help ensure that the incredible progress of its research now becomes mainstreamed in the food systems that underpin improved nutrition, especially for those most at risk."
A range of other partners from both the public and private sector also asserted or re-affirmed their commitment to reducing malnutrition through food-based approaches such as biofortification, including the World Food Programme, the UK Department for International Development, World Vision, and the CSO-SUN Alliance of Zambia.
Nearly one in three people globally suffers from a lack of essential vitamins and minerals in their diet, a condition known as hidden hunger. This increases the risk of stunting, anemia, blindness, infectious diseases, and even death. Women and children are especially vulnerable. In light of this grave reality, conference participants lent their voices to a 'Kigali Declaration on Biofortified Nutritious Foods' that will pave the way for this new approach to reduce hidden hunger and improve public health through familiar foods that people eat every day.
In a special video address to participants, Copenhagen Consensus Director, Dr. Bjorn Lomborg, reminded participants that “biofortification is one of the best ways to spend public money…every $1 invested in biofortification yields about $17 of good in the world.”
The conference, ‘Getting Nutritious Foods to People,’ organized in conjunction with the Government of Rwanda, was held in Kigali from March 31- April 2. It attracted more than 300 high-level policymakers and practitioners from different sectors. Representing the host government, The Right Honorable Pierre Damien Habumuremyi, Prime Minister of the Republic of Rwanda, provided the opening keynote. The Honorable Agnes Kalibata, Rwanda Minister of Agriculture and Animal Resources, and the Honorable Agnes Binagwaho, Rwanda Minister of Health, also addressed the conference.
A new partnership has been awarded £7.2m from the Department of International Development (DFID) for a groundbreaking five-year research initiative, Innovative Metrics and Methods for Agriculture and Nutrition Actions (IMMANA). The aim of IMMANA is to accelerate the development of a robust scientific evidence base needed to guide changes in global agriculture to feed the world’s population projected to hit nine billion by 2050 in a way that is both healthy and sustainable. The IMMANA collaboration includes leading experts in the field from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine; SOAS, University of London; and the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University in Boston (USA).
Globally, undernutrition is a cause of 3.1 million deaths per year – nearly half of all deaths in children under five - and stunts the growth of a further 165 million children. But overconsumption is equally harmful – diet related chronic diseases are rapidly on the rise even amongst the poor in developing countries. Agriculture-food systems not only provide food and nutrients, but also comprise a source of income, have effects on food prices and influence women‘s time for taking care of young children, women‘s nutrition status and their power in decision-making.
DFID support will enable IMMANA partners to develop innovative methods and metrics, strengthen the capacity of young researchers and facilitate international collaboration to improve the quality and coherence of the evidence base required to eliminate undernutrition and reverse the rise of diet related chronic diseases. To achieve these objectives, the project will offer competitive research grants to advance new metrics and methods, research fellowships for early career scientists, and support for a global network of scholars and practitioners.
Dr. Suneetha Kadiyala, Senior Lecturer in Nutrition-Sensitive Development at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), Principal Investigator for the IMMANA project, said:
‘Links between agriculture, food systems and nutrition are multiple and complex, and as such difficult to document. There is high demand for innovative metrics and methods to understand causes, evaluate policy and programme impacts and estimate their cost-effectiveness to guide agricultural interventions for nutrition. Existing research is limited and shows important gaps that the IMMANA project will aim to address.’
The IMMANA partnership is brought together and coordinated by the Leverhulme Centre for Integrative Research on Agriculture and Health (LCIRAH), part of the London International Development Centre (LIDC).
For more information, please contact:
Communications Manager, London international Development Centre (LIDC)
Tel. 0044 (0) 2079588260 or 0044 (0) 77 29 776 146
PATH is pleased to release a second Pre-Qualification Questionnaire (PQQ) for grants opportunities under the Nutrition Embedding Evaluation Programme (NEEP).
Under NEEP, the UK Department for International Development (DFID) will provide two types of grants: those for nutrition evaluations, and supplemental funding for planned and ongoing evaluation activities. Full details about qualifications and criteria can be found in this PQQ document. Interested applicants should use this corresponding cover-sheet when applying.
Applications in response to the PQQ should be sent to NEEP@path.org no later than 11:59PM Eastern Daylight Saving Time (GMT–5 hours), Sunday, May 11, 2014.
The Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA) is pleased to issue its first call for concept notes in 2014, for regional agricultural research and development projects.
Applications are welcome from national public and private sector entities operating in any of the 11 ASARECA member countries of Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Rwanda, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda. This Call has been made possible by grant funds ASARECA has received from several development partners including: European Union and USAID East Africa, through the World Bank managed multi-donor trust fund; Swedish International Development Agency and the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center.
More details on proposed project titles and application criteria are available at: http://www.asareca.org/content/asareca-first-call-concept-notes-2014
Deadline for receipt of Concept Notes is 13th May 2014. Successful concept notes will be followed by invitations for proposals.
Earlier this month WorldFish hosted the 9th Program Planning and Management Committee (PPMC) meeting at their headquarters in Penang.
Committee members reviewed a number of pending matters, including:
- Strengthening our gender agenda: we need to strengthen our human and financial resources for implementing our gender strategy, especially for supporting the gender dimensions of technology development and adoption in our value chains. Each centre will be reallocating resources to address this, and we will be asking the gender team to review their staffing strategy.
- Our strategy for allocating USD3.1 million in supplementary CGIAR and bilateral funding this year: some will be disbursed directly to the four partner centres for additional activities this year, some to strategic investments in our partnerships and gaps in capacity, and some to a competitive call to support our work in value chains and across Consortium Research Programs (CRPs).
- Taking forward partnership ambitions with Wageningen University Research and the Swedish Agricultural University (SLU): the recent roundtable consultation with Wageningen UR was very positive, we further discussed the options for the partnership arrangements to pursue.
- A reflection on our program model: we have been managing the program as a federative model which recognizes that the partner centres consider the Livestock and Fish program as a mechanism for implementing their respective mandates and research agenda, and so relies heavily on the researchers across the centres to shape the agenda to meet the agreed objectives. While we consider our federative model to be working well, we challenged ourselves to continue monitoring whether we are ensuring it performs well from a results-based management and value-for-money perspective.
This was Malcolm Beveridge’s last meeting as he retires from WorldFish this month. Malcolm was instrumental in designing the program and has served on the PPMC as the aquaculture science leader since it began. We appreciate him for his valuable inputs and perspectives, and wish him the best.
Filed under: CGIAR, CRP37
Experts agreed that a number of high-impact options are already actionable at a meeting convened by the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases (GRA), and World Bank on 16 April in Washington, DC. (Please find links to the WGIII report here and all presentations and videos at the end of this blog.)
One set of options centers around producing food differently through adoption of conservation and climate-smart agriculture approaches that increase farmers’ productivity and adaptation to climate change, while also providing mitigation benefits. Examples include:
- Conserving existing carbon stocks (in forests, peatlands, wetlands, and soil) by avoiding carbon stock degradation and enhancing carbon sequestration in soils, biota and long-lived products
- Reducing CH4 or N2O emissions from livestock systems, for example through improved feed and forage, animal health, manure management and grazing management
- Avoiding N2O emissions through efficient use of nitrogen fertilizer in croplands
- Reducing CH4 and N2O emissions from irrigated rice, through water and nitrogen fertilizer management
These options are globally actionable and supportive of countries’ development priorities, but regional and national priorities vary. For example, while many countries are committing to an alternate wetting and drying system for irrigated rice production, fertilizer-related emissions is a priority in China.
The second set of options involves shifting food consumption patterns and decreasing waste. Changing to a healthy diet could reduce emissions potentially more than shifts in technical practices. Likewise, huges savings exist from decreasing waste, as a third of all food produced is lost in the supply chain from harvest to consumption.
The challenge now is to act on these priorities.
“Time is running out for agriculture to contribute to meeting global climate targets,” World Bank Director of Agriculture and Environmental Services Juergen Voegele said.
World Bank's tobi baedecker leads a discussion of low-emissions agriculture initiatives, with the goal of scaling up. Photo: J White (CCAFS)
Giovanna Valverde, Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock in Costa Rica, described how her country aims to meet its goal for carbon neutrality in 2021 by reducing emissions from livestock and coffee. Through an industry roundtable, new policies and scientific monitoring, she estimated that improved livestock practices on 80% of farms could produce co-benefits of about 11 million tons of CO2 and reduce about 1.2 million tons of CO2 emissions in 15 years.To enable rapid roll-out of low-emissions agriculture initatives at scale, leaders in the field are sharing how they work with farmers to lower emissions while increasing food security, and sharing lessons on how to implement activities at scale.
In Ghana, the Rainforest Alliance is facilitating a sustainable value chain approach to improved cocoa production and forest conservation in the Juabeso-Bia area. Jeff Hayward explained how training farmers, using lead farmers to demonstrate options and working with communities to develop adaptation plans has increased carbon sequestration and yields on 11,000 ha. Over 4000 farmers are leaving shade trees, pruning cocoa, using fertilizer efficiently, protecting sacred groves, planting trees and diversifying crops.
The Nature Conservancy is working with cattle in Brazil, where they reduced deforestation by 75% while also improving livelihoods on 32,000 properties (87% of the total) in ranchers in São Félix do Xingu Municipality. Erin Meyers Madeira said the game changer was increasing productivity from one to three heads of cattle per hectare and engaging the private sector through supply chain sustainability measures and extension services to achieve scale.
Improved livestock Management offers huge potential to avoid deforestation and increase farmers' income, especially in tropical forest areas, like this photo of the amazon river in Brazil. Photo: N Palmer (CIAT) View original
Successful scaling up requires a combination of consumer demand, supportive regulatory framework and governance, technical assistance and finance incentives, and engagement with stakeholders. Baskets of technical options that enable farmers to develop solutions for their needs and farm conditions are more important than silver bullet interventions. Working at jurisdictional or administrative scales encourages better integration with policies and avoids displacing impacts.
Need to measure and support scaling up with climate finance
Experts also reiterated the need for improved methods and better accounting of emissions. Harry Clark, Director of the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Center and another lead IPCC author, called for more precise county-level accounting (in IPCC lingo “Tier II”) to better reflect gains in the efficiencies of production systems related to GHG emissions. Using less precise Tier I numbers risks overestimating emissions. He noted that emissions intensities are declining where better genotypes, more efficient use of fertilizers and legumes or improved feeding and animal health are practiced.
Representatives from the Climate and Clean Air Coalition, Inter-American Development Bank and World Bank indicated that the donor and finance community are pro-active in leading investment in low-emissions agriculture. But the levels of funding are too small. As one participant asked, “where will the big funding come from?”
How we produce and consume food globally will make a difference in stabilizing the climate. Success will be incremental and look different in different places, but low emissions agriculture can – and must – be achieved at large scales.
The movement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in agriculture is gathering momentum. We are posed to implement and scale up initiatives that will increase food security and adaptation while decreasing the amount of carbon released into our atmosphere. The time is now.
Please click on the links below to view the videos and powerpoint presentations from Meeting global food needs with lower emissions: IPCC report findings on climate change mitigation in agriculture or see the full playlist of videos here.Welcome Juergen Voegele, World Bank video
What the IPCC says
Chuck Rice, Kansas State University, IPCC author
Opportunities and recommendations for mitigating climate change in agriculture: Results from a study commissioned by the Climate and Land Use Alliance
Charlotte Streck, Climate Focus
Priorities for best practices and capacity building
Harry Clark, New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre, GRA Livestock Research Group, IPCC author
Costa Rica’s Zero Emissions Policy and agricultural NAMAs for coffee and livestock
Giovanna Valverde, Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, Costa Rica
Enhancing carbon in Ghana’s cocoa landscapes by increasing productivity and restoring ecosystems
Jeffrey Hayward, Rainforest Alliance
Cattle and avoided deforestation in Brazil
Erin Myers Madeira, The Nature Conservancy
Catalyzing mitigation through the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC)
Sunny Uppal, Environment Canada, CCAC
Agriculture and future climate in LAC: Systemic impacts and potential responses
Ana Rios, Inter-American Development Bank
Financial innovations for increased productivity and lower emissions from agriculture
Neeta Hooda, World Bank
We usually turn to computer simulation tools when we want to find out what our future climate will look like. For rangelands, however, such tools are either for a specific part of the world or very complex, alternatively too simple. Seeing as rangelands support the livelihoods of millions of people around the world and make up about 45 percent of the world's surface (excluding Antarctica), there is a definite need to find ways to simulate how climate change will affect these parts of the world as well.
Building on this need, scientists from Colorado State University have just put the final touches on an intersting tool called: G-Range. It's a tool that can simulate generalized changes in rangelands through time, with simulations that may span a few to thousands of years.
What can you do with the tool?
The tool is easy to use, and represents all global rangelands in a single simulation. It can simulate the growth of herbs, shrubs, and trees, and the change in the proportions of these plant types. The tool borrows from the Century model, which is used around the world to understand changes in soil chemistry.
With G-range you can track changes in carbon and nitrogen in the soil and plant parts. The death of plant parts and establishment, as well as deaths of whole plants can also be tracked. You can in addition simulate fire in the model.
The tool is distributed with spatial data and settings that let the model simulate global rangelands. Users will likely want to make changes for their areas of interest, but the files that come with the tool will serve as a good starting point.
Ethiopian rangelanDs. Here Supporting livestock and herders. Photo: ILRI/Dave Elsworth.
Improving the G-Range tool step-by-step
When the model was first released to collaborators, the settings were only approximated. Improving the settings used in the model prior to its release to the public has been an important three step process:
First, scientists had to adjust settings and compare the responses to some real world data. Second, they had to document how changes in the individual settings changed outputs. This kind of work is called a sensitivity analysis. Lastly, they had to use the results from that work and other analyses to finalize the tool settings.
Randall Boone and Rich Conant, researchers at Colorado University and leading the G-range project, joined with Dr. Jason Sircely, post-doctoral scientist with the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and at the Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory, to conduct the sensitivity analyses. In this work, the agreement between model output and published spatial data was of most interest. For the report they looked at 2006, included eleven global surfaces from various sources, such as the soil surface temperature, water in the soil and available to plants, and the vegetation grown.
These data either came from very well established modeling efforts or from authors reporting research results. A program was written that made comparisons between these surfaces and model output, preparing spreadsheet reports. The team then ran G-Range several hundred times while reducing differences between model output and the spatial surfaces, yielding fit that is reported in Table 2 (page 6-8) and Table 3 (pages 9-10), found in the report: Adjustment and Sensitivity Analyses of a Beta Global Rangeland Model.
Then for about 50 different settings in G-Range scientists varied the value used across seven levels spanning the original value. For example, the model includes a multiplier changing the effect of CO2 concentration on plants; plants use CO2 in photosynthesis, and so changing that value can change rangeland productivity.
The base value was 0.8, and so we ran seven simulations with the value spanning from 0.6 to 1.0. For each of the settings tested, a page was prepared that summarized what the setting means, the values tested, a summary of the effects on model outputs, and if the model should be changed in response to the results. This is what the different tests for the G-Range tool settings look like in the report:
Above image: Testing the variable set coarse root death rate on Shrubs.
The CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) and the International Livestock Research Institute provided support to this tool.
Download the G-range tool and simulate how climate change will impact and affect rangelands globally.
Learn more about the G-range project:
- Report: Adjustment and Sensitivity Analyses of a Beta Global Rangeland Model
- G-Range project page on our web site: Global Rangeland Model Development and Testing
- Poster: G-Range: An intermediate complexity model for simulating and forecasting ecosystem dynamics and ecosystem services in grazing lands at scales from local to global
- G-range web site
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation seeks proposals for agricultural research with the potential to increase the sustainable productivity of smallholder farmers in developing countries. Sustainable productivity includes tackling the underlying social and economic determinants of productivity, such as gender equity, environmental issues, and healthy, diverse diets. With this call, we are looking for projects led by MSc and PhD scientists at national agricultural research institutions and universities in sub-Saharan Africa, working in collaboration with other researchers internationally (either within Africa or beyond the continent). More information is available at: http://www.gatesfoundation.org/How-We-Work/General-Information/Grant-Opportunities/Program-for-Emerging-Agricultural-Research-Leaders-2014