Scientists have found a way to control different plant processes -- such as when they grow -- using nothing but colored light. The development reveals how colored light can be used to control biological processes in plants by switching different genes on and off. The researchers hope that their findings could lead to advances in how plants grow, flower, and adapt to their environment, ultimately allowing increases in crop yields.
The COVID-19 pandemic is increasing the need for international food assistance, and disrupting the supply and delivery of food assistance. A series of unprecedented shocks is straining the capacity of food assistance organizations to reach vulnerable populations. We discuss how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting the demand and the supply of international food assistance, and we propose three policy changes that can keep food flowing to those in need. First, donor countries can prioritize humanitarian spending in aid-allocation decisions. Second, governments can exempt food assistance from trade barriers that impede procurement (export restrictions) and delivery (import tariffs). Third, donor countries can allow flexibility for implementing agencies by untying food assistance from domestic procurement and shipping restrictions. All of these suggestions are regulatory changes that can be made without requiring increased spending. These options are particularly relevant now because donor-country governments are entering economic recessions, and foreign aid budgets will be constrained.
Large estimates of food losses among farms and intermediaries publicized recently by several international organizations invite the question: Why do economic decision makers live with such losses? The intuitive, economic response would be that the marginal benefits of loss reduction do not exceed the marginal costs. This paper analyzes the possibility that economically significant losses nevertheless might be occurring at the farm and wholesale levels in two cases that have drawn attention in the Near East and North Africa. In Tunisia, concerns exist that farm equipment, especially harvesting equipment, is a major source of wheat losses in a country for which the grain plays an important role in diets and the national import bill. Our analysis finds that smaller wheat farms do have relatively large physical losses, compared to large farms, attributable to the use of older and imperfectly adjusted harvesting equipment. Nevertheless, given the scale of most operations in Tunisia, there is little incentive for farmers to make the specific investments that would significantly reduce losses. In Egypt, local experts have focused on large post-harvest losses of tomatoes, an important crop, largely produced by small-scale farmers. We examine the effectiveness of plastic crates for reducing food losses in harvesting, transport and storage as compared to traditional palm crates. We find that there is perhaps a marginal gain to be had in terms of the value of losses avoided, but such gains are likely within a margin that makes adoption of plastic economically ambiguous.
As COVID-19 spreads in more low- and middle-income countries, we see a range of responses and effects. In this blog post, Xinshen Diao and Michael Wang assess the direct and indirect impacts on Myanmar’s economy after a two-week lockdown. Almost all households have reduced income from disrupted domestic economic activity or lost remittances. The authors explore immediate policy actions to support poor and vulnerable groups and look at longer-term implications for fiscal stimulus and economic changes post-COVID.—John McDermott, series co-editor and Director, CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH).
[学术文献] Capacity development in food and nutrition in central and Eastern Europe: A decade of achievements 进入全文
This article summarizes the activities performed by the Network for Capacity Development in Nutrition in Central and Eastern Europe and Balkan countries (NCDNCEE) in the past decade. The article gives a retrospective of the achievements and challenges in building capacity in nutrition research. Recognizing the lack of capacity and incoherent nutritional situation in CEE/BC, the United Nations University (UNU), Food & Nutrition Programme and the UN Standing Committee on Nutrition (SCN) encouraged the formation of NCDNCEE in 2005, which became CAPNUTRA in 2012. The network’s aim was to initiate and support tailor-made activities for capacity development in food & nutrition in research and training in CEE/BC. To identify the challenges and needs of nutrition research in the region, the network performed inventories on existence of food composition databases, food systems elements, dietary surveys, micronutrient recommendations, application of dietary assessment methods and grey literature. Further on, the network focused on the development of food composition databases and concomitant data management software, the Diet Assess & Plan platform for food consumption collection, dietary intake assessment and nutrition planning. These and other elements form the Balkan Food Platform, which underpins harmonized nutrition research in CEE/BC. Among key actions promoted by the platform are EFSA-supported dietary surveys conducted in four Balkan countries, on children and adults, in which food consumption data are collected and analysed in a harmonized way. Cooperation with FAO and active participation in international research projects enhanced the exchange of information and knowledge and brought international recognition to the CAPNUTRA network.
[学术文献] Improved Drying and Storage Practices that Reduce Aflatoxins in Stored Maize: Experimental Evidence from Smallholders in Senegal 进入全文
Amer. J. Agr. Econ
Proper post‐harvest treatment of crops is key to limiting contamination by aflatoxins, potent carcinogens, but little is known about constraints to adoption of best post‐harvest practices among smallholder farmers in developing countries. We use a randomized controlled trial with 2,000 maize producers in Senegal to test whether low awareness and/or lack of drying and storage technologies are barriers to storing safe maize. A novel feature of our intervention is that we offered both drying and storage technologies to farmers and evaluated their combined impact. We found that only hermetic (airtight) storage bags caused a statistically significant reduction in total aflatoxin levels after 3–4 months of storage, reducing the likelihood that maize had total aflatoxin levels above safe‐to‐eat thresholds by 30%. Our results provide practical guidance to lower aflatoxins in staple crops and suggest that strategies to reduce aflatoxins should address issues from harvest to storage in a comprehensive manner.