Global Harvest Initiative Newsletter May 2016

may 2016

Photo by Ann Steensland
advancing research - engaging policymakers - mobilizing action

From the Executive Director
During April and May, GHI engaged with our members and partners in agriculture and food security to advance policies and practices for productive, sustainable agriculture and food systems.    
This edition of On Our Plate highlights the exciting growth and new investments in agricultural land and agri-tech innovation, as well as advancements our partners in Latin America are making to increase investments for small and medium-scale farmers in that region. 

We also feature recent engagements by GHI staff at policy and youth leadership forums at the University of Georgia and the Grocery Manufacturers of America (GMA) Spring Science Meeting.  

Finally, we are pleased to introduce GHI's newest board member, Doyle Karr of DuPont.
Thank you for reading On Our Plate – we hope you enjoy the fare!

Best regards,
Dr. Margaret M. Zeigler
In This Issue
Investing in Land and Ag Tech for Productive, Sustainable Agriculture
AgroLAC: Cultivating Partnerships for Sustainable Growth in Agriculture

CIAT Demonstrates Ag Tech for Farmers
University of Georgia Ag Students Broaden Their Horizons
Biotechnology Featured at GMA Science Forum
Doyle Karr Joins GHI Board of Directors
Second Helpings & Next Course
Dr. Margaret Zeigler, Executive Director of GHI (right) with Ambassador Darci Vetter, Chief Agricultural Negotiator for the U.S. Trade Representative, and Robert Shapiro, Managing Director of Cultivian Sandbox. Dr. Zeigler and Ambassador Vetter spoke on a panel at a recent Cultivian Sandbox event.  They were joined by David Lane, the U.S. Ambassador to the UN Agencies for Food and Agriculture, and Susan Schwab, Strategic Advisor, Mayer Brown LLP, Government and Global Trade Practice, and former United States Trade Representative (2006‐2009). 
Investing in Land and Ag Tech for Productive, Sustainable Agriculture

In April, GHI Executive Director Margaret Zeigler attended the annual Global AgInvesting Conference in New York City, where farmers and farm operators, investors, technology providers and agribusiness consultants met to explore partnerships and investments for productive agriculture. Land for farming has recently become an asset class for many institutional investors, and investments in land within the United States for agriculture remains a safe and attractive opportunity. 

GHI’s newest member company, Farmland Partners, was a leading sponsor and contributor to the conference discussion; Farmland Partners operates by acquiring high-quality North American farmland and making loans to farmers secured by farm real estate. In his remarks,Paul Pittman, CEO of Farmland Partners, emphasized the vital importance of U.S. row crops (corn, soybeans and wheat) for national and global food security. Partnership arrangements, like those provided by Farmland Partners, give new farmers access to capital for much needed improvements like irrigation and storage buildings that enhance productivity on their farms. 

Investors and farm operators believe that improving productivity through new technologies and best practices is paramount in today’s investment strategy. One example of a sustainable investment is Sundrop Farms in Australia which produces more than 17,000 tons of tomatoes each year using solar power, seawater for irrigation and natural pest management. 
Venture capital investments in sustainable agriculture technologies are also on the rise. At a recent meeting of ag investors and innovators hosted by the Cultivian Sandbox, Margaret spoke on a panel outlining global and regional trends in agricultural technology and trade.  Cultivian Sandbox provides venture capital and capacity building to new agtech startups that are creating products and services for the next generation of sustainable agri-food systems. The fund invests in companies with technology-based innovation across animal health, crop production, food and food safety, cleantech and renewables, and water technology.   

Partners and funders gather at the AgroLAC2025 conference at CIAT in Cali, Colombia
AgroLAC: Cultivating Partnerships for Sustainable Growth in Latin American Ag

GHI and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) launched a major policy report in 2014, The Next Global Breadbasket: How Latin America Can Feed the World, to advance policies for sustainable growth in Latin America agriculture.  Today, the policy recommendations in the report are being realized through the AgroLAC2025 initiative, a multi-donor funding platform coordinated by the IDB and with the participation of many partners from the public, private and NGO sectors, including The Nature Conservancy, one of GHI’s consultative partners. 
To develop projects for agriculture in the Latin American region, a conference was held in Cali, Colombia in April, hosted by CIAT, (The International Center for Tropical Agriculture).  Margaret Zeigler attended on behalf of GHI, along with 98 participants from more than 50 organizations and companies to begin the process of creating projects for new agriculture and food initiatives in the region.   Each project requires conservation and environmental sustainability objectives as well as food security goals.
Visit these links to learn more about the work of the AgroLAC2025 Partners and how to participate in project proposals.
CIAT Demonstrates AgTech for Farmers

At the AgroLAC2025 meeting, staff of CIAT demonstrated how drones can help detect early warning signs of impact of drought, pests or diseases.  CIAT is working with drones to leverage big data for agriculture and decision making support. Drones can give farmers information that helps them decide more precisely how much water each crop needs or when to intervene to protect their crops against pests or diseases. They collect information that can reveal large patterns that aren’t visible up close—swaths of fungal or pest outbreaks and even variations in soil quality.

University of Georgia Ag Students Broaden Their Horizons

Each year, dozens of undergraduate and graduate students from the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) travel the globe to learn first hand how to build a more food-secure future. These practical experiences give CAES students the opportunity to put into practice what they learned in the classroom, and just as importantly, gain insights into the human elements of agriculture and food security that can only be learned in the field.  

The Office of Global Programs holds an annual International Ag Day celebration to recognize the students who have completed the International Agricultural Certificate program and honor the achievements of the college's most globally-minded students with travel grants, scholarships and awards.

GHI Deputy Director Ann Steensland met some of these extraordinary students when she gave the keynote address at the 2016 International Ag Day celebration in April.  Ann spoke about her recent visit to Zambia and how her interactions with farmers and policymakers reaffirmed her belief that "as we’re looking at meeting the challenge of 2050, we need to think locally as well as globally.  We need to think creatively. We need to be flexible and we need to listen as much as we talk."

Biotechnology Featured at GMA Science Forum
GHI's Margaret Zeigler was privileged to give the opening keynote speech at the Grocery Manufacturers of America (GMA) Spring Science Forum in Washington, D.C., and to be part of a panel discussing the role of science and bio-innovation to boost food production.   In her remarks, she discussed how scientific and technological advancements help improve productivity and reduce the environmental footprint of food production as well as help mitigate agriculture’s contribution to climate change.  Highlights from her remarks include:
  • Biotechnology is a critical component of a broad strategy to improve global food security, nutrition, and to build resilience to climate challenges. 
  • Biotechnology innovation has enabled the U.S., Canada, Australia and South America to help supply, through trade, many regions like Asia that have skyrocketing food and feed demands. 
  • Biotechnology and genetically modified crop research is increasingly targeted at the needs of poor farmers or consumers. Research on drought tolerance, digestive and processing qualities, and enhanced bio-based products, taste, and shelf life is opening new opportunities for greater productivity, food security and nutrition in developing countries. 
  • Biotechnology innovation must be further tailored and extended to producers and to food and agriculture industries in new and different settings globally, so that its promise can be realized.

Doyle Karr of DuPont Joins GHI Board 

GHI is delighted to welcome Mr. Doyle Karr, Director of Biotechnology Public Policy to the Board of Directors.  In an interview for Harvest 2050, Doyle described his background in agriculture and shares his thoughts on how the private sector can collaborate to improve global food security.  "I believe we need to take a 'systems approach', which means understanding how best you can contribute to the end goal [of food security] and then engaging with meet the goal together," says Doyle.  Click here to read the full interview.
Second Helpings
Next Course
Ruben Echeverria, CIAT Director General Gives Opening Keynote at AIARD Conference
June 5-7, Washington, D.C.
Trends in Global Food Security: Findings from the 2016 Global Food Security Index
June 9, Washington, D.C.
2016 Global Agricultural Productivity Report Release at World Food Prize

October 12, 2016, Des Moines, Iowa
Register to Attend or Watch Online
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