Knowledge for better food systems

Showing results for: Primary production: Agriculture

Agricultural production sits at the heart of major societal concerns, spanning food security, nutrition and health; livelihoods and development; the environment;and animal ethics. In early history, the farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that allowed for the development of sedentary civilisation. Later, the Green Revolution of the twentieth century allowed for large groups of people, especially in developed countries, to “move off the land” and improved food supplies across much of the world. Yet while innovations in modern agronomy, plant and animal breeding, pesticides and fertilizer use have greatly increased food output, much environmental harm arising from these practices has occurred while concerns are also growing around excess calories and poor nutrition, leading to obesity and associated non communicable diseases as well as micronutrient deficiencies. Many of the 1.3 billion people worldwide who rely directly or indirectly on agriculture for their living face problems arising from imbalanced power structures, including poor working conditions, uncertain land use and tenure, and lack of access to inputs, infrastructure, capital and knowledge; these imbalances play out along the whole of the food value chain, between the genders, within country populations and across countries and regions. As to the environment, agriculture is responsible for some 20% of global anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions of which about half arise directly from crop and livestock production and the other half from agriculturally induced land use change. It is also the main cause of deforestation and biodiversity loss, a major user and polluter of scarce water resources and responsible for the disruption of global nitrogen and phosphorus cycles.

7 October 2013

This Oxfam report highlights the risks of land grabs or conflicts over land that could be taking place within the supply chains of some of the largest food and beverage companies. Oxfam argues that poor communities across the globe are in dispute or even being kicked off their land, without consultation or compensation, to make way for huge sugar plantations.

26 September 2013

This is the first time that Korean foods are listed in the Ark of Taste, an international slow-food catalogue showing foods that are in danger of extinction.  The new foods include seasoned beans, dwarf wheat, wild fowl, Hanson Lily and beef from cows raised on medicinal herbs.   The listing is part of an attempt to highlight the risk of extinction of these foods and encourage people to protect them.

26 September 2013

With an anticipated expansion in demand for food in urban areas due to the world’s growing urban population, urban agricultural innovations are portrayed in this article as possible solutions. Aeroponic farming systems are one example: these systems allow for clean, efficient, and rapid food production. The crops, which protected from seasonal changes in weather, can be planted and harvested year round without interruption and without contamination from soil, pesticides, and residues. Because aeroponic growing environments are clean and sterile, the chances of spreading plant disease and infection are less common than in soil-based systems.

26 September 2013

New evidence suggests that a chemical mechanism operating in the roots of a tropical grass used for livestock feed holds enormous promise for reducing the emission of nitrous oxide. N2O is the most harmful of the warming gases, with a global warming potential 296 times that of carbon dioxide. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the livestock sector accounts for 65 percent of the nitrous oxide emitted.

17 September 2013

This video introduces the themes and goals of the Global Landscapes Forum which will take place in Warsaw 16-17 November this year, during COP 19. The forum will focus on issues such as how we can feed a growing population without clearing the world’s remaining forests to make way for new farmland and how we can stem the tide of climate change. The overall aim is to discuss how a “landscapes approach” can help us address these issues.

Click here to see the video.

17 September 2013

This paper presents 12 principles for achieving both better and more food from mature perennial agroecosystems and seeks to contribute to the debate on sustainable intensification. It provides a model, or policy roadmap, for sustainably intensifying productive tropical and sub-tropical agriculture in ways that are both pro-poor and multifunctional – i.e. that enhance agriculture economically, socially and environmentally. The paper examines the role of perennial species, especially trees, in the helping improve staple crop yields; providing nutritious food; reducing poverty, hunger, malnutrition and environmental degradation; improving rural livelihoods; and mitigating climate change.

17 September 2013

This paper is the outcome of the Global Food Security Programme’s six-month project to identify priority research questions for the UK food system. It details the rationale, process and outcomes of Global Food Security project.

The identified priority research questions are aimed at improving the UK food system’s efficiency and effectiveness and complement other studies that have been framed from a more productionist viewpoint. The authors also try to adopt a wider understanding of “food security” – one that incorporates nutritional content, food safety, preferences and affordability in addition to availability of supply.

5 September 2013

The FCRN’s Tara Garnett has a new paper published in the Journal of Cleaner ProductionIn it, she looks at the very different ways in which stakeholders conceptualise the food sustainability problem and what constitutes a desirable ‘solution.’  She argues that these different views are underpinned by different values and ideologies and shows how different stakeholders select and interpret the evidence from life cycle assessment (LCA) to argue their positions.  

24 July 2013

In this video USAID Agrilinks interviews Charlotte Dufour of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) on the issue of integrating nutrition into agricultural development. The discussion revolves around agriculture's role in improving nutrition and the opportunities that are emerging from partnerships in this area.

24 July 2013

A new study from International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis IIAS considers whether it is possible to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from agriculture by producing more food on less land. It specifically focuses on the effects of crop yield and livestock feed efficiency scenarios on GHG emissions from agriculture and land use change in developing countries.

16 July 2013

This report is part of a series of annual progress reports by the Adaptation Sub-Committee to assess how the UK is preparing for the major risks and opportunities from climate change. Together these reports will provide the baseline evidence for the Committee’s statutory report to Parliament on preparedness due in 2015.

2 July 2013

The book summary says the following: Farmers' Rights are essential for maintaining crop genetic diversity, which is the basis of all food and agricultural production in the world. The International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture recognizes Farmers' Rights and provides for relevant measures. However, implementation is slow, and in many countries there is resistance. This book shows the necessity of realizing Farmers' Rights for poverty alleviation and food security, the practical possibilities of doing so, and the potential gains for development and society at large.

2 July 2013

A paper published in the Journal of Applied Ecology finds that grassland plots planted with a mixture of several agricultural plant species produced a greater yield than plots planted with a single species. The EU-funded study explored whether different combinations and proportions of agricultural plants can lead to higher yields with lower input of fertilisers and more efficient use of land. Intensively managed agricultural grasslands, cultivated to provide food for livestock, have the potential to support, or damage, a range of ecosystem services, depending on how they are managed.

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