+420794026409 +2348035820593

Category Archives: Activate Agric

There’s a Serious Problem With The Way We Measure Global Food Security – The Science Page

There’s a Serious Problem With The Way We Measure Global Food Security – The Science Page

The way that we currently measure food security severely underestimates the enormous scale of global hunger.

A new study suggests that if we truly want to put an end to malnutrition by 2030, as per the aim of United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, then we need to consider a more holistic approach to food systems.

“There are two main issues with how we currently talk about food systems,” says lead author Hannah Ritchie, a researcher in malnutrition and sustainable food systems at the University of Edinburgh.

“The first is that we focus our measure of food security in terms of calories (energy), when micronutrient malnutrition (‘hidden hunger’) affects more than ~2 billion people across the world.”

“The second issue,” she continues, “is that aspects of our food system are reported in tonnes or kilograms, and it’s very hard to put these numbers in the context of how many people this could feed.”

The new study is the first of its kind to quantitatively map how calories, protein, fat, essential amino acids and micronutrients make their way through the supply chain and onto our plates.

Gathering data on food balance, nutrient composition and food waste from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the authors of the paper converted all measurements to average per person per day (pppd) for the sake of comparison.

The findings clearly show that we are collectively producing more than enough calories, protein and micronutrients to sufficiently feed the world’s burgeoning population. In fact, the results reveal that some nutrients were produced up to five times more than the average requirement.

But despite the abundance of global food production, problems in the supply chain, like food waste, distribution and nutrient losses, ensure that many people in the world remain hungry.

“With large inequalities in food availability, we know that many people will be deficient in several essential nutrients,” explains Ritchie.

Today, approximately one billion people suffer from protein deficiency, two billion suffer from hidden hunger and close to 800 million suffer from caloric hunger. All the while, over two billion people are estimated to overconsume.

“This challenge exists across countries of all income levels, with a growing number of developing nations experiencing a “triple burden” – an increase in the prevalence of obesity in parts of the population alongside the wide prevalence of undernourishment and micronutrient deficiencies,” the authors write.

Tackling this issue will not be easy, especially in the face of climate change and a rapidly growing population.

“With population growth, intensifying climate change impacts and rapidly changing diets, the need for evidence-based, holistic assessments of our food system has never been more urgent,” says co-author and climate scientist David Reay, also from the University of Edinburgh.

The challenge of malnourishment is made even more difficult when problems in the supply chain differ for each specific nutrient.

For instance, the study reveals that we lose most micronutrients, like Vitamin A and C, in post-harvest waste of fruit and veggies, while energy and protein is lost the most when crops end up being used as animal feed and biofuel.

“This is important information to understand,” says Ritchie. 

“Knowing that the highest-impact interventions for maintaining micronutrients may not be the same as for calories, which may not be the same as for protein, will help to focus our efforts for food security and nutrition.”

The paper does not put forward any solutions. It is simply meant to inform and point out areas where sufficiency can be improved and trade-offs can be made.

Dairy farming, for instance, is identified as a particularly difficult conundrum because it simultaneously helps and hinders global malnourishment.

“When you consider that more than ~80 percent of farmland is used for grazing or animal feed production, livestock are clearly an inefficient way of producing food,” explains Ritchie.

“But, while livestock are an inefficient converter of feed, they remain the only natural dietary source of vitamin B12 and an important source of high-quality protein and lysine (an amino acid) for many people,” she continues.

The authors acknowledge that their data does not zoom in on regional, national or local dynamics. Nevertheless, they maintain that it is replicable and useful on a broader scale.

“This study is just the start,” concludes Reay.

“In the future, this replicable framework can be used to map food pathways for specific regions and countries. Our hope is that governments and development agencies can use it to assess food security risks and develop locally specific solutions.”

This study has been published in Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems.

Farmer suicide could hurt food security

Farmer suicide could hurt food security

Flynn makes a case for why farming is difficult and contributes to a risk for an adequate food supply. She says, “Farming is a demanding and difficult calling that provides beauty and independence but also requires plenty of sacrifice: long hours, little time off, isolation and usually razor-thin operating margins and thus frequent financial instability.”

Among the most significant sources of stress for people engaged in farming are economic pressures that can entail the loss of the family farm, as well as the physical dangers that can lead to tragic events for farmers or their family members.

And there is another risk, Flynn says. “Rural farmers and agricultural workers top the list of people who take their own lives.”

She bases her claim on a consensus of studies which indicate that persons involved in farming (farm and ranch operators and farm workers) have a higher rate of suicide than any other occupation. She cited a 2016 report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which the CDC recently retracted because the authors did not adequately specify their definition of who was considered to be a farmer.

If and when the CDC releases a revised analysis of their data, my impression is that they will likely find people involved in all endeavors considered to be part of the agricultural occupation by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (i.e., farmers, ranchers, migrant laborers, farm workers, fishers, lumber harvesters and related activities that result in the production of food, fiber and biofuels) will likely have the highest suicide rate of the occupations they examine.

Flynn mentioned something I have said: “When all available data about suicide among the agricultural population are compiled together, it still says farmers (using the USDA definition) have consistently high — and maybe the highest rate — of any occupational group.”

Flynn also mentions observations of Knesha Rose-Davison, health communications director of the AgriSafe Network, an Iowa-based non-profit organization that coordinates farmer (and family member) health clinics in many states and in several other countries besides the U.S.: “Balancing an agricultural business while still prioritizing time with family, friends or other persons can be difficult.”

Flynn says there are concerns about access to health care and its cost because farmers typically provide their own health insurance, cutting into already tight profit margins. Rose-Davidson adds, “Rural areas often lack the breadth of health services that a typical urban area would have.”

The National Rural Health Association reported a 2016 study that nearly 700 rural hospitals were at risk for closure and that 83 rural hospitals had closed during the time frame of 2010-16. Rose-Davison observed, “This degree of hospital closure puts millions of rural residents at risk of losing much-needed health-care services.” Flynn added that the at-risk health-care services includes mental health services.

Flynn offers suggestions about how to help. She suggests that persons interested in improving behavioral healthcare services for the agricultural population should contact their state and federal representatives and urge them to promote policies and legislation that support farmers and sustainable agriculture.

Flynn also says it is important “to buy local.” Making intentional choices about where one purchases food and supporting local producers helps insure fresh food, local suppliers and establishes connections between the producers and the consumers.

Consumers like to know where their food comes from and to support farmers in their communities and nearby areas. Purchasers feel they are helping to sustain their communities, and they like knowing who the suppliers are and how their food was produced.

Moreover, most of the profit from sales goes to local producers instead of to other participants in the usual food chain from producer to consumer, such as processors, transportation, warehouses and retailers. Most retail grocers appreciate local producers, also, because grocery stores become part of the local network, and they often have lower wholesale costs, thus increasing their profit margins.

That some locally-produced foods are available only seasonally doesn’t seem to hinder the Farm-to-Table movement, because consumers like variety in their foods. Flynn concludes by saying, “Making thoughtful choices about where you spend your food dollars is a powerful everyday action that is not only good for your own health but for farmers and the food economy as well.”

Additional Articles Recommended by Agweek

Additional Articles Recommended by Agweek



Regional, Int’l collaboration needed for food security – Granger

Fertilizer industry critical to
tackling global food security

Fertilizer industry critical to tackling global food security

The fertilizer industry has a crucial role to play in addressing global food security challenges, as the world’s population continues to expand rapidly, driving demand for nutrition and resource availability, said speakers during the 9th GPCA Fertilizer Convention held on Sept. 18-20 at Kempinski Hotel, Muscat, Oman.

Dr. Fuad Bin Jaafar Bin Mohammed Al-Sajwani, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Oman, patronized the event and opened the exhibition as part of a special inauguration ceremony in the morning of day one. In line with this year’s theme “New frontiers and opportunities”, the convention highlighted recent developments in the global and regional industry landscape, consolidation within the agri-nutrients business, sustainable agricultural solutions and opportunities for improvement in the fertilizer value chain.

Delivering the welcome address on day one, Eng. Salim Al-Aufi, Undersecretary, Ministry of Oil and Gas, Oman, urged the industry to be ready for the tremendous population growth that is set to occur globally: “We need to be prepared for the challenge that lies ahead of us and ensure that we have enough food for the 10-12 billion people that will be living on this planet in the next 30-40 years to come.

GCC fertilizer exports have reached historical record levels, as rising market protectionism continues to dominate global markets, new figures by the Gulf Petrochemicals and Chemicals Associations (GPCA), the voice of the chemical industry in the Arabian Gulf, have revealed.

According to figures by GPCA, fertilizer exports from the Arabian Gulf reached 20.4 million tons in 2017, growing by 5.3% year on year, and at a 6% CAGR between 2007-2017. Growth in regional fertilizer trade comes in stark contrast to escalating market tensions and changing trade policies between major economic powers such as the United States, European Union and China.

The GCC fertilizer industry remains heavily export-oriented, shipping its products to 80 countries from across the globe, with India, Brazil and the US revealed as the top three GCC export destinations. Asia accounted for 55% of total exports in 2017, followed by South America (21%), North America (15%), and Africa (7%).

GCC fertilizer production capacity is expected to reach 38.9 million tons in 2018 and an estimated 47 million tons by 2025, growing at a CAGR of 7.7% between 2007-2017. At 46%, Saudi Arabia accounts for almost half of GCC fertilizer production in 2018, followed by Qatar (25%) and Oman (12%), which has increased its share from 11% in 2017.

Sales revenues have also been growing at a CAGR of 5.7% between 2010 and 2017, standing at $5.9 billion in 2017, albeit down from a peak of $7.2 billion in 2014 due to a drop in global fertilizer prices. As a key contributor to socio-economic development in the region, the GCC fertilizer industry accounts for 54,900 direct and indirect jobs, growing at a CAGR of 7.2% over the past decade. In 2017, the industry generated $6.7 billion in indirect economic activity in the region, from support services, to warehousing and distribution, to packaging and others.

Dr. Abdulwahab Al Sadoun, Secretary General, GPCA, said: “Despite a continuing rise in global market protectionism, the Arabian Gulf region has enjoyed record high fertilizer exports in 2017, thus, cementing its position as a globally recognized hub for the production and export of fertilizers. To sustain and increase this growth, the industry would need to continue to explore new markets globally, and free trade will play a key role in ensuring its profitability and the sustainable development of the region, to which the industry is an important contributor.”

“We are proud to be holding the GPCA Fertilizer Convention for the first time in the Sultanate of Oman – the third largest producer and exporter of fertilizers in the Arabian Gulf, and one of the fastest growing markets in the region – and look forward to another successful edition with the support of Oman India Fertilizer Company (Omifco), a subsidiary of Oman Oil Company, and the valuable participation of local government officials, industry leaders and international experts.” — SG


Plant pests pose threat to food security in region

Plant pests pose threat to food security in region

Muscat, Sept 17 – Plant pests and diseases threaten food security and nutrition around the world, and endangers food security in our region with serious economic and environmental implications, Dr Nora Orabah Haddad, FAO Representative in the Sultanate, has said. Speaking at a regional workshop on the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) for Near East and North Africa, she said: “The risk of emergence and spread of transboundary pests and diseases has been exacerbated by the increasing movement of goods, people, plants and products. Not to forgot, the impact of climate change in recent years.”
The most important diseases that have been affecting plants are date palm red weevils, bacteria (Xylella fastidoisa), autumn worms, among others, she said.
Organised by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MoAF) in cooperation with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the workshop began here on Monday. It was held under the auspices of Dr Ahmed al Bakri, Under-Secretary of the Ministry. It will continue until September 20.
Forty plant quarantine specialists, plant protection workers and technicians from the region are participating in it.
The workshop aims at providing an understanding of phytosanitary realities and challenges faced by each region as well as learning the latest in international phytosanitary standards.
IPPC is one of the oldest international conventions sponsored by FAO, which entered into force in 1952. It has 183 member states, including all countries in the Near East and North Africa region.
The convention aims at assisting the member states to improve and modernise plant protection programmes.
“IPPC’s objective is to provide guidelines and recommendations with a view to standardising phytosanitary measures at the global level to facilitate international trade in plant products,” said Dr Nora Orabah Haddad.
Nassr bin Saif al Shamsi, Head of Agricultural Quarries Department, spoke about the need for appropriate phytosanitary legislation and procedures to deal with agricultural shipments based on scientific grounds, risk analysis and assessment. This is to prevent spread of agricultural pests, protect environment and plant resources, and facilitate trade.
“Oman, in coordination with the GCC states, has been keen to update legislations on plant protection and develop capacity of agricultural quarantine in line with developments at the international level,” he said.
Some of the provisions of Unified Agricultural Quarantine Law between the GCC States are now being revised along with methods used for inspecting agricultural shipments and determining import conditions so they comply with international standards of the Commission on Phytosanitary Measures (CPM), he added.
Meanwhile, an official from MoAF, presenting his paper, said Oman’s agricultural exports in 2017 stood at 0.5 million tonnes with a value of RO 63 million, while it imported 2.9 million tonnes of goods valued at RO 370 million in the same year.

Zainab al Nassri


Plant pests pose threat to food security in region

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Food security #IndigenousNCDs : Welfare reform is targeting many remote-living Aboriginal people  impoverishing them and resulting in the consumption of unhealthy foods that are killing them prematurely from non-communicable diseases

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Food security #IndigenousNCDs : Welfare reform is targeting many remote-living Aboriginal people impoverishing them and resulting in the consumption of unhealthy foods that are killing them prematurely from non-communicable diseases

What national and average Closing the Gap figures do not tell us is just how badly the estimated 170,000 Indigenous people in remote and very remote Australia are faring. This region where I focus my work covers 86 per cent of the Australian continent.

In the last decade new race-based instruments have been devised to regulate Indigenous people including their forms of expenditure (via income management), forms of working via the Community Development Programme (CDP) and their places of habitation, where they might access basic citizenship services.

All these measures have implications for consumption of market commodities, including food from shops, and of customary non-market goods, including food from the bush.

Owing to deep poverty, many people can only purchase relatively cheap and unhealthy takeaway foods that are killing them prematurely from non-communicable diseases, like acute heart and kidney disorders, followed by lung cancer from smoking.

With income management Aboriginal people are being coerced to shop at stores according to the government’s rhetoric for their ‘food security’. Before the introduction of this regime many more people were exercising their ‘food sovereignty’ right to harvest far healthier foods from the bush.

Extracts from Jon Altman a research professor in anthropology at the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation at Deakin University, Melbourne.

From New Matilda Read and subscribe HERE

A version of this article was first published in the Land Rights News

READ over 5 Articles NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Nutrition 

READ Articles NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Welfare Card 

” NACCHO is strongly opposed to the current cashless debit card trials as well as any proposal to expand. We also note that Aboriginal people are disproportionately affected by the trials and that they are in and proposed for locations where the majority participants are Aboriginal. Whilst it is not the stated intent of the trials, its impact is discriminatory.

NACCHO knows that some Aboriginal people and communities need additional support to better manage their lives and ensure that income support funds are used more effectively.

However, NACCHO is firmly of the view that there are significantly better, more cost efficient, alternative approaches that support improvements in Aboriginal wellbeing and positive decision making.

Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services would be well placed to develop and implement alternative programs. We firmly believe that addressing the ill health of Aboriginal people, including the impacts of alcohol, drug and gambling related harm, can only be achieved by local Aboriginal people controlling health care delivery.

We know that when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have a genuine say over our lives, the issues that impact on us and can develop our own responses, there is a corresponding improvement in wellbeing. This point is particularly relevant given that the majority of trial participants are Aboriginal. “

Selected extracts from Submission to the Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee Inquiry into the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Cashless Debit Card Trial Expansion) Bill 2018 

Download HERE 

NACCHO submission on cashless debit card final

As is the case in many countries, Indigenous people in Australia, New Zealand, United States of America and Canada are disproportionately affected by NCDs.

Diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer,  smoking related lung disease and mental health conditions are the five main NCDs identified by the World Health Organisation (WHO), and these are almost uniformly experienced by Indigenous peoples at higher rates than other people.

Indigenous people globally are disproportionately affected by diabetes. In Australia, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are 6 times more likely than the non-Indigenous population to die from diabetes. In Canada, Indigenous peoples are 3-5 times more likely to have diabetes than other citizens.

Indigenous people are also more likely to have Cardiovascular disease. Cardiovascular disease accounts for almost a quarter of the mortality gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and other Australians. Maori people are 3-4.2 times more likely to die from cardiovascular disease than other people in New Zealand.

These numbers are not improving, despite national rates of smoking decreasing, and increased social marketing aimed at reducing sugar consumption and increasing physical activity.

Mainstream solutions do little to reduce the burden of NCDs for Indigenous populations. The broader social determinants of health have a huge role to play, and until these are addressed in a meaningful way, Indigenous peoples will continue to experience an inequitable burden.

With colonisation having had a devastating impact on Indigenous peoples, and mainstream solutions unable to significantly reduce the rates of NCDs experienced by Indigenous peoples, a new paradigm is urgently required.

What is required is not more state based solutions but Indigenous led solutions.

Summer May Finlay Croakey 

Welfare reform is targeting many remote-living Aboriginal people impoverishing them and resulting in the consumption of unhealthy foods that are killing them prematurely from non-communicable diseases

Rome (Canberra) continues to fiddle while Black Australia burns. Professor Jon Altman weighs in on the ongoing disasters of government policy that have a tight grip on remote living Indigenous people.

In the last month I participated in two workshops. I used what I observed on my latest visit to Arnhem Land and what people were telling me to inform what I presented at the workshops.

The first workshop explored issues around excessive consumption by industrialised societies globally and how this is harming human health and destroying the planet. Workshop participants asked how such ‘consumptogenic’ systems might be regulated for the global good? My job was to provide a case study from my research on consumption by Indigenous people in remote Australia.

The second workshop looked at welfare reform in the last decade in remote Indigenous Australia. In this workshop I looked at how welfare reform by the Australian state after the NT Intervention was creatively destroying the economy and lifeways of groups in Arnhem Land who are looking to live on their lands and off its natural resources.

Here I want to share some of what I said.

BROADLY speaking Indigenous policy in remote Australia is looking to do two things.

The first is to Close the Gaps so that Indigenous Australians can one future day have the same socio-economic status as other Australians. In remote Australia this goal is linked to the project to ‘Develop the North’ via a combination of opening Aboriginal communities and lands to more market capitalism and extraction, purportedly for the improvement of disadvantaged Indigenous peoples and land owners.

While remote-living Indigenous people have economic and social justice rights to vastly improved wellbeing, in such scenarios of future economic equality based on market capitalism, the downsides of what I think of as ‘consumptomania’ are never mentioned.

The second aim of policy is the extreme regulation of Indigenous people and their behaviour, when deemed unacceptable. In a punitive manifestation of neoliberal governmentality, the Australian state, and its nominated agents, are looking to morally restructure Indigenous people to transform them into model citizens: hard-working, individualistic, highly educated, nationally mobile at least in pursuit of work (not alcohol), and materially acquisitive.

This paternalistic project of improvement makes no concessions whatsoever to cultural difference, colonial history of neglect, connection to country, discrimination, and so on.

In the last decade new race-based instruments have been devised to regulate Indigenous people including their forms of expenditure (via income management), forms of working via the Community Development Programme (CDP) and their places of habitation, where they might access basic citizenship services.

All these measures have implications for consumption of market commodities, including food from shops, and of customary non-market goods, including food from the bush.

We have all heard the bad news, year after year, report after report, that the government-imposed project of improvement, called ‘Closing the Gap’ and introduced by Kevin Rudd in 2008, is failing.

Using the government’s own statistics, after 10 years only one target, year 12 attainment, might be on track. I say ‘might’ because ‘attainment’ is open to multiple interpretations: is attainment just about attendance or about gaining useful life skills?

What national and average Closing the Gap figures do not tell us is just how badly the estimated 170,000 Indigenous people in remote and very remote Australia are faring. This region where I focus my work covers 86 per cent of the Australian continent.

What we are seeing in this massive part of Australia according to the latest census are the very lowest employment/population ratios of about 30 per cent for Indigenous adults (against 80% for non-Indigenous adults) and the deepest poverty, more than 50 per cent of people in Indigenous households currently live below the poverty line.

This is also paradoxically where Indigenous people have most land and native title rights, a recent estimate suggests that 43 per cent of the continent has some form of indigenous title; and is dotted with maybe 1000 small Indigenous communities with a total population of 100,000 at most.

Native title rights and interests give people an unusual and generally unregulated right to use natural resources for domestic consumption.

This form of consumption might include hunting kangaroos or feral animals like the estimated 100,000 wild buffalo in Arnhem Land.

Such hunting is good for health because the meat is lean and fresh; it is also good for the environment because buffalo eat about 30kg of vegetation a day and are environmentally destructive; and it is good for global cooling because each buffalo emits methane with a carbon equivalent value of about two tonnes per annum.

The legal challenge of gaining native title rights and interests is that claimants must demonstrate continuity of customs and traditions and connection to their claimed country. But in remote Australia, culture and tradition have been identified as a key element of the problem that is exacerbating social dysfunction. (That is unless tradition appears as fine art ‘high culture’ which is imagined to be unrelated to the everyday culture and is a favourite item for consumption by metropolitan elites.)

Hence the project of behavioural modification to eradicate Indigenous cultures that exhibit problematic characteristics, like sharing and a focus on kinship and reciprocity, to be replaced by western culture with its high consumption, individualistic and materially acquisitive characteristics.

Connection to country, at least if it involves living on it, is also deemed highly problematic by the Australian state if one wants to produce western educated, home-owning, properly disciplined neoliberal subjects — terra nulliusis now to be replaced by terra vacua, empty land.

Such empty land would be ripe for resource extraction and capitalist accumulation by dispossession Despite all the talk of mining on Aboriginal land, there are currently very few operating mines on the Indigenous estate. This is imagined as one means to Develop the North, but recent history suggests that the long-term benefits to Aboriginal land owners from such development will be limited.

MUCH of what I describe above in general terms resonates with what I have observed in Arnhem Land where I have visited regularly since the Intervention; and what I hear from Aboriginal people and colleagues working elsewhere in remote Indigenous Australia.

From 2007 to 2012 all communities in Arnhem Land were prescribed under NT Intervention laws. Since 2012, under Stronger Futures laws legislated in force until 2022, the Aboriginal population has continued to be subject to a new hyper-regulatory regime: income management, government-licenced stores, modern slavery-like compulsory work for welfare, enhanced policing, unimaginable levels of electronic and police surveillance, school attendance programs and so on.

The limited availability of mainstream work in this region as elsewhere means that most adults of working age receive their income from the new Community Development Program introduced in 2015. Weekly income is limited to Newstart ($260) for which one must meet a work requirement of five hours a day, five days a week if aged 18-49 years and able-bodied.

Of this paltry income, 50 per cent is quarantined for spending at stores where prices are invariably high, owing to remoteness.

The main aim of such paternalism is to reduce expenditure on tobacco and alcohol which cannot be purchased with the BasicsCard.

Shop managers that I have interviewed tell me that despite steep tax-related price rises (a pack of Winfield blue costs nearly $30) tobacco demand is inelastic and sales have not declined.

Since the year 2000, Noel Pearson has popularised his metaphor ‘welfare poison’. Pearson is referring figuratively to what he sees as the negative impacts of long-term welfare dependence. In Arnhem Land welfare is literally a form of poison because in the name of ‘food security’ people are forced to purchase foods they can afford with low nutritional value from ‘licenced’ stores.

However, paternalistic licencing to allow stores to operate the government-imposed BasicsCard is not undertaken equitably by officials from the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

So one sees large, long-standing, community-owned and operated and mainly Indigenous staffed stores being rigorously regulated, managers argue over-regulated. Such stores are highly visible, as are their accounts.

But small private-sector operators (staffed mainly by temporary visa holders and backpackers) that have been established as the regional economy has been prised open to the free market appear under-regulated, even though they are also ‘licenced’ to operate the BasicsCard.

These private sector operators compete very effectively with community-owned enterprises because they only have a focus on commerce: all the profits they make and most of the wages they pay non-local staff leave the region.

Owing to deep poverty, many people can only purchase relatively cheap and unhealthy takeaway foods that are killing them prematurely from non-communicable diseases, like acute heart and kidney disorders, followed by lung cancer from smoking.

With income management Aboriginal people are being coerced to shop at stores according to the government’s rhetoric for their ‘food security’. Before the introduction of this regime many more people were exercising their ‘food sovereignty’ right to harvest far healthier foods from the bush.

This dramatic transformation has occurred as an unusual form of regional economy that involved a high level of customary activity has been effectively destroyed by the dominant government view that only prioritises engagement in market capitalism — that is largely absent in this region.

On one hand, we now see the most able-bodied hunters required to work for the dole every week day with their energies directed from what they do best.

On the other hand, the greatly enhanced police presence is resulting simultaneously in people being deprived of their basic equipment for hunting — guns and trucks — regularly impounded because they are unregistered or their users unlicenced.

People are being increasingly isolated from their ancestral lands and their hunting grounds.

Excessive policing, growing poverty, dependency and anomie are seeing criminality escalate with expensive fines for minor misdemeanours further impoverishing people and reducing their ability to purchase either more expensive healthy foods or the means to acquire bush foods.

A virtuous production cycle that until the Intervention saw much ‘bush food consumption’ has been disastrously reversed. Today, we see a vicious cycle where people regularly report hunger while living in rich Australia; people’s health status is declining.

Welfare reform and Indigeneity is indeed a toxic mix, poison, in remote regions like Arnhem Land.

I WANT to end with some more general conclusions.

On the regulation of Indigenous expenditure, we see a perverse policy intervention: the Australian government is committing what are sometimes referred to as Type 1 and Type 2 errors.

The former sees the government looking to regulate Indigenous consumption using the expensive instrument of income management that has cost over $1.2 billion to date, despite no evidence that it makes a difference.

The latter sees an absence of the proper regulation of supply in licences stores evident when stores with names like ‘The Good Food Kitchen’ sell cheap unhealthy take-aways.

In my view the racially-targeted and crude attempts to regulate Indigenous expenditure are unacceptable on social justice grounds.

Two principles as articulated by Guy Standing stand out.

‘The security difference principle’ suggests that a policy is only socially just if it improves the [food]security of the most insecure in society. Income management and work for the dole do not do this.

And ‘the paternalism test’ suggests that a policy like income management would only be socially just if it does not impose controls on some groups that are not imposed on the most-free groups in society.

Paternalistic governmentality in remote Australia is imposing tight regulatory frameworks on some people, even though the justifying ideology suggests that markets should be free and unregulated.

Sociologist Loic Wacquant in  Punishing the Poor shows how the carceral state in the USA punishes the poor with criminalisation and imprisonment; the poor there happen to be mainly black.

In Australia, punitive neoliberalism punishes those remote living Aboriginal people who happen to be poor and dependent on the state.

Once again there is a perversity in policy implementation.

Hence in Arnhem Land, people maintain strong vestiges of a hunter-gatherer subjectivity that when combined with deep poverty makes them avid consumers of western commodities that are bad for health (like tobacco that is expensive and fatty, sugary takeaway food that is relatively cheap).

At the same time commodities that might be useful to improve health, like access to guns and trucks essential for modern hunting, are rendered unavailable by a combination of poverty and excessive policing.

Australian democracy that is founded on notions of liberalism needs to be held to account for such travesties.

Long ago in 1859, John Stuart Mill, the doyen of liberals, wrote in  On Liberty: “…despotism is a legitimate form of government in dealing with barbarians, providing the end be their improvement and the means justified by actually effecting that end”.

In illiberal Australia today, authoritarian controls over remote living Indigenous people and their behaviour are again viewed as legitimate by the powerful now neoliberal state, even though there is growing evidence from remote Australia that things are getting worse.

I want to end with some suggested antidotes to the toxic mix that has resulted from welfare reform that is targeting many remote-living Aboriginal people and impoverishing them.

First, in my view despotism for some is never legitimate, so people should be treated equally irrespective of their ethnicity or structural circumstances.

Second, the Community Development Programme is a coercive disaster that is far more effective at breaching and penalising the jobless for not complying with excessive requirements than in creating jobs. CDP is further impoverishing people and should be replaced, especially in places where there are no jobs, with unconditional basic income support.

Third, people need to be empowered to find their own solutions to the complex challenges of appropriate development that accord with their aspirations, norms, values, and lifeways. Devolutionary principles of self-government and community control, not big government and centralised control, are needed.

Fourth, the native title of remote living people should be protected to ensure that they benefit from all their rights and interests. There is no point in legally allocating property rights in natural resources valuable for self-provisioning if people are effectively excluded from access to their ancestral lands and the enjoyment of these resources.

Finally, governments should support what has worked in the past to improve people’s diverse culturally-informed views about wellbeing and sense of worth.

While such an approach might not close some imposed ‘closing the gap’ targets, like employment as measured by standard western metrics, it will likely improve other important goals like reducing child mortality and enhancing life expectancy and overall quality of life.


 NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Food security #IndigenousNCDs : Welfare reform is targeting many remote-living Aboriginal people impoverishing them and resulting in the consumption of unhealthy foods that are killing them prematurely from non-communicable diseases

Brexit food security: An opportunity for vertical farming?

Brexit food security: An opportunity for vertical farming?

Farming in the UK is facing an uncertain time. The UK government recently announced that it intends to phase out farming subsidies, and a no deal Brexit has prompted food shortage scares. The UK has limited land to grow more produce, but could vertical farming improve the UK’s food security after Brexit?

Vertical farming is the growing of produce in vertically stacked layers. There are many variations, but what most of them share in common is an enclosed structure in which farmers can control the climate.

“The way to think about it is, we’ve cut a field up into six and a half meter trays, stacked them about six inches apart on top of each other and put them in a box in which we can make the weather,” vertical farming company Intelligent Growth Solutions CEO David Farquhar told Verdict.

“We are giving the farmer complete control of the weather.”

This includes the light, the heat, humidity, ventilation, air movement, nutrients and the rain. All of this means that UK farmers could grow crops that traditionally have only been possible to grow in overseas climates.

Farquhar gives the example of basil, which makes up 40% of the world’s production of herbs but cannot be grown outdoors in the UK. However, at their recently opened farm in Scotland, it can be grown throughout the year.

The UK relies heavily on EU imports

The prospect of a no deal Brexit disrupting supply chains has created fears that the UK will need to stockpile food and pharmaceuticals.

While Brexit secretary Dominic Raab has assured consumers that they will still be able to enjoy a BLT when the UK leaves the EU, it has highlighted the UK’s dependency on imports.

According to government statistics, more than half of food is sourced from overseas. With 30% of those imports coming from the EU, any disruption to trade will further expose Britain’s low food security.

Jon Woolven, Strategy and Innovation Director at food and grocery research charity IGD told Verdict that the UK’s level of food self-sufficiency has “varied considerably” over the years. It has gone through a series of cycles, but is currently at “a low point, determined by several factors”.

The EU’s Single Market, for example, makes it “easier and cheaper to source food from markets outside the UK”.

Part of this dependency lies in the consumer demand for foods that can’t be grown in the UK, as well as food that isn’t in season, says Woolven.

Brexit food security: a problem fuelled by land scarcity

But at its heart, land scarcity is the biggest factor. The UK currently uses 72% of its landmass for agricultural practices to provide just 50% of our food.

Britain’s housing, which requires an extra 240,000 houses per year to match demand, means that there is increasingly less land available for farming.

“There is intense competition for land use in a densely populated country,” says Woolven.

In addition to this, planning regulations, access to capital and business uncertainty are all barriers for new farms.

Vertical farms can be on a large scale, such as the planned 130,000 square foot vertical farm to be built in Dubai, a country that imports 85% of its food.

While there are no plans to build a vertical farm of that scale in the UK, it shows how vertical farms offer a potential solution to a lack of arible land.

“You can put them in cities, you can put them next to transport hubs to make it really efficient for the supermarkets,” says Farquhar.

“So absolutely we can create not necessarily more land, but we can create the area in which it’s possible to grow.”

Vertical farming is free from labour shortages

Since the UK voted to leave the EU, the number of seasonal workers has been in decline. In 2017, there was a 12.5% shortfall of workers required to work on horticulture farms, leading to some fruit turning rotten in the fields.

And with 99% of seasonal workers on British farms coming from Eastern Europe, the UK farming industry is particularly exposed to any limits on immigration.

“Brexit may well cause a further shortage of agricultural labour, whether you regard that as an opportunity or an issue, but it’s almost certainly going to do it and it’s already happening,” says Farquhar.

Vertical farming has the advantage of being free from the effects of labour shortages because many of the processes are automated.

“If you can reduce the requirement for labour, then clearly that’s something that specifically a vertical farm (as opposed to other indoor ones) can certainly do because we are using robotics for pretty much every stage of what we do here,” says Farquhar.

In fact, Farquhar estimates that compared to a traditional greenhouse operation, vertical farming takes out 80% of the headcount. In Intelligent Growth Solutions’ recently opened vertical farm, the only human that enters the farm is the maintenance man once every few months.

Instead, robots plant the seeds, harvest and package the produce.

“We’re not going to take away the crop scientists and those kind of guys, but actual labourers? You can remove most of them,” he says.

Not yet ripe

One analysis predicts that the vertical farming market will be worth nearly $10bn by 2025. However, others warn that the technology is overhyped, with many aspects that still need to be refined.

Critics also point to the large amounts of capital needed to set up a vertical farm and the large amounts of energy required to operate them.

However, in a closed loop vertical farm, resources such as light and air are recycled. Their increased efficiency means that while power consumption is high, farmers can produce a greater yield per watt of power.

“Will we ever see fields of wheat grown in this way? I think that’s a fair way off,” says Farquhar.

However, technology moves quickly, and Farquhar points to the differences between a mobile phone 25 years ago compared to the high tech pocket computers of today.

Notably, vertical farming does not provide a solution to livestock , which would still feel the effects of any supply chain disruption in the event of a no deal Brexit.

A government approach to Brexit food security

The UK government has published several blogs about vertical farming and farming innovation. However, environment minister Michael Gove’s recent announcement focused on phasing out EU farming subsidies.

Instead, government policy will focus on protecting the environment.

“The bill will allow us to reward farmers who protect our environment, leaving the countryside in a cleaner, greener and healthier state for future generations,” he said.

Some have praised this move, scrapping a system which typically benefited rich landowners. However, others warned that many farmers will struggle to stay afloat without EU funding.

According to the Times, UK farmers made an average profit of £39,000 in 2015. One study warned that 25% of English farms could go bankrupt when they lose the subsidy, which could force traditional farmers to rethink their approach.

While there are no government plans or incentives for vertical farms, there are plenty of older buildings and factories that could be converted into vertical farms.

“I think what’s going to happen in the UK is I think most of the vertical stuff is going to go urban or suburban next to transport hubs,” says Farquhar.

All of this would require a completely new approach to the economic model of farming, from supply chains to price, meaning it is unlikely to happen any time soon.

But Farquhar believes that the pace the technology is improving at means vertical farming will become mainstream within the next ten years.

“The simple fact is we’re going to want to be less reliant on our neighbours,” he says.

“Whether Brexit in and of itself necessarily creates the opportunity – frankly the opportunity is already there.”

The post Brexit food security: An opportunity for vertical farming? appeared first on Verdict.


Brexit food security: An opportunity for vertical farming?

SatSummit: Disaster Response, AI, OpenData, NASA, and Food Security from Space

SatSummit: Disaster Response, AI, OpenData, NASA, and Food Security from Space

We’re down to the final 10 tickets. SatSummit will be sold out again because of the amazing cross-section of leaders who understand the potential of imagery and maps to solve some of our biggest problems: Sarah Muir from the UN World Food Programme, Christoph Koettl from the New York Times, Yotam Ariel from, Catherin Andrea Alvarez Hernandez from Bogota’s Habitat Department, astronaut Cady Coleman, Megan Smith, CTO under Obama. Folks from DigitalGlobe, The World Bank, NASA, MIT, Amazon Conservation Team — the list goes on. The caliber and diversity of speakers and participants coming this week is humbling.

Nine years ago this month, I landed in DC after my first trip to Kabul. Where we started mapping, the maps were blank so we got good at making tools to make maps. Fast forward to today and advances in imagery, cloud computing, and AI—combined with the powerful sensors sitting in all of our pockets—allow planetary scale analysis of a living map, and the ability to gain insight and make traction in areas of massive humanitarian importance: preventing food crises, detecting gas leaks, disaster response.

SatSummit is a reflection of the moment we’re in. At a time when truth can feel increasingly subjective, the powerful truth of earth observation is more valuable than ever. Last week, while some were debating whether coverage of Hurricane Florence was part of a climate hoax, satellite imagery and AI were allowing NASA to conduct real-time analysis of Florence’s windspeed — as fast as the images arrived.

We’re just scratching the surface of our potential. That’s why we’re aiming to deepen the conversation this year. SatSummit is two days and incorporates panels and workshops — so we can do more than talk about problems, we can work together to solve them. And of course, this year’s after-party will be next-level. It’s at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum — under the satellites and spaceships in the Space Race Gallery. I hope to see you there.


Afghan Food Security and Nutrition Agenda stakeholders study tour to Bangladesh

Afghan Food Security and Nutrition Agenda stakeholders study tour to Bangladesh

Afghan Food Security and Nutrition Agenda stakeholders study tour to Bangladesh

David Martin   |   SUN Country Network, SUN UN Network

With the support of FAO and EU, the afghan delegation composed of 12 people from the Afghanistan Food Security and Nutrition Agenda (AFSeN–A) stakeholders composed of representatives from Government Ministries, Technical Secretariat and FAO representatives paid a study tour to Bangladesh. The delegation headed by H.E Nasrullah Arsalai, the Director General of the Council of Ministers, Secretariat, the Afghanistan Focal Point to SUN movement and Government Coordinator for the AFSeN-A.

The purpose of this visit was to learn from experiences of Bangladesh in Food Security and Nutrition areas. The delegation met with Bangladesh government food and Agriculture ministers, authorities research and training institutes, research council, laboratories and agriculture university of Bangladesh.

The constitution, policy and regulatory environment in Bangladesh favors food and nutrition security. Strong constitutional provision ensures citizen rights to food, good number of policies and regulations such as food policy, food safety act and country investment plans are tools that offer legitimacy, legal power and back-up to food and nutrition related structures and interventions.

Linking Research, education and extension work is another good example for agricultural integration, inclusiveness and continuity. This is another example which we must learn from.

This study tour was very useful and Bangladesh experience could be copied to Afghanistan context. The multi stakeholder coordination mechanism in scaling up nutrition, strong training and research institutes extension, food safety authority fortification, bio fortification are examples which we can learn from and apply.

Fortification, bio-fortification, GMOs, plant tissue culture, targeted programs for vulnerable people, developing stress tolerant crop varieties, developing local technology to help farmers are few interesting examples to mention.


Northern food security key to Canada’s future

Northern food security key to Canada’s future

Northern food security key to Canada’s future

By Mary Buhr      

For the sake of our global future, food security in the North is an issue requiring thoughtful investment now.

Last year, Statistics Canada released an analysis of 2012 information: between 33 and 55 per cent of Nunavut residents over the age of 25 had experienced food insecurity in the previous 12 months. Photograph courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

True or False: The Arctic is thawing, uncovering land that can grow food and eventually feed the world. Answer: both. Another answer: We don’t know—because so much is changing. And it has serious implications for food security in the north. What we do know is that permafrost—ground that remains at or below zero degrees for at least two consecutive years—is diminishing, with losses of about 30 to 70 per cent through the next century. Permafrost holds a huge

This is an exclusive subscriber-only story by The Hill Times.
If you’d like to read the full article:

Already a Hill Times subscriber? Sign in here:

Reuse and Permissions:

Unauthorized distribution, transmission, reuse or republication of any and all content is strictly prohibited. To discuss re-use of this material, please contact:

Political observers expect to start seeing policy trail balloons floating this fall, and the beginning of ‘persuasion advertising,’ with the next federal election almost a year out.

‘Coming up in the first few weeks and months it’s going to be a heavy trade-focused session,’ says NDP House Leader Ruth Ellen Brosseau.

The court rejection of the Trans Mountain pipeline is set to loom large over debate on the Liberals’ impact assessment bill in the Upper Chamber this sitting.

As much as those talks are consuming the Trudeau government’s bandwidth, it has also sent the signal to stakeholders that it’s hoping to reorient some of its resources to other files as it lays the groundwork for 2019.

Their challenge is to differentiate themselves from the Liberals and say why they’re better, strategists say, to build a ‘compelling narrative.’

NDP MP Georgina Jolibois says she’s surprised the Liberals are hoping to win her riding, as she’s heard that constituents are satisfied with her work as an MP.


Northern food security key to Canada’s future