Thursday, February 16, 2017

Yemen: Conflict and Agriculture

Yemen is a country that is dealing with major conflict. There are many impacts that conflict can have on countries and agriculture and food security are areas that are often vulnerable. Below is an article that discusses how conflict is affecting agriculture and food security in Yemen. We encourage you to look over the linked article and utilize the discussion points below to spark conversations around the globe.

Yemen Food Crisis Deteriorates

Discussion Points

  • What does food security and nutrition look like in Yemen currently? What has the trend over the past two years been? 
  • Explain the difference between food insecurity and malnutrition.
  • Explain the importance of agriculture to the country of Yemen.
  • What are the challenges facing agriculture in Yemen today? How do you feel these challenges could be overcome?
  • Norman Borlaug stated, "You can't build a peaceful world on empty stomachs." Explain how this statement relates to the current situation in Yemen.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Wheat Rust on the Attack

Over the past year we have seen the spread of old and new wheat rust strains around the world. The linked article below shares information on the area of impact, ramifications, and much more in regards to wheat rust. We encourage you to read the linked article and then utilize the discussion points below to spark conversation around the globe!

Spread of Damaging Wheat Rust Continues 

Discussion Points

  • Explain the recent trend of wheat rust around the globe.
    • What parts of the world/countries are being impacted?
    • Why is this so troubling?
  • Why is it so important that we have global collaboration in battling wheat rust (or any challenge facing agriculture for that matter)?
  • The article explains the direct impact that wheat rust is having in Asia, Europe, and Africa. What other impacts is or could wheat rust have on global wheat prices and production? How is or could this affect wheat prices and production in your home country?
  • Brainstorm ways to control and/or stop the damage being done by wheat rust. Reflect on the resources needed and challenges facing your thoughts and how to meet these respective needed resources and challenges.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Gene Editing and Cattle

Scientists in China have genetically edited cattle by inserting a gene that increases their resistance to bovine tuberculosis. This has been tried before, but until this time they have not seen the success with avoiding off target genetic effects. Below we have provided a link to a recent article for your review and encourage you to engage in conversation with others around the globe utilizing the discussion points.

Article: Tuberculosis-resistant cows developed for the first time using CRISPR technology 

Discussion Points

  • Why do scientists in China feel this is such a breakthrough? What are the benefits?
  • Explain the technology they utilized to accomplish this (CRISPR/Cas9). If needed do a quick internet search on the process. There are even many videos on Youtube that explain the process.
  • It was noticed that before this time when they attempted this procedure they would find off target genetic effects. Explain what this means.
  • How do you see this being perceived in your local community? State? Country? And around the world? Will different regions view this science differently?
  • Finally, you are challenged to see both sides of the argument. Some are very excited about this and others are fearful. See if you can list out the arguments from both sides and then try to research what facts there are to support each respective argument.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Information Technologies Key to Farmers

Many of us have technology at our fingertips via our mobile devices. We can check grain markets, weather, and even the score of last nights basketball game. Recently the FAO Director-General called for information technologies to be developed specifically for farmers in developing countries. We encourage you to read the linked article and use the discussion points below to guide your conversations around the globe.

More Support to Family Farmers Needed

Discussion Points
  • Why are information technologies so important to small family farmers in developing countries?
  • Why is it so important to give attention to small farmers in developing countries? 
  • What technologies are being developed that will help farmers in developing countries?
  • Look at agriculture in your community. How is information technology utilized in agriculture?
  • Imagine you work for a technology company in development. What technologies and tools would you create for farmers in developing countries and how could they use them to improve agriculture?

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Natural Disasters: Agriculture's Role

We often hear about natural disasters and their impacts on communities, but we don't always hear about the impact on agriculture from these disasters. Linked below is a video (3 mins), from the FAO, that tells the story of natural disasters impacts on agriculture and the role agriculture can play in prevention of damage during these natural disasters. We encourage you to watch the linked video and utilize the discussion points to spark conversations in your classrooms, coffee shops, and communities around the globe!

Disaster Risk Reduction in Agriculture

Discussion Points

  • What has the trend with natural disasters been? (Consider timing, severity, reasons, etc.)
  • How do natural disasters impact communities and countries? How do they impact agriculture?
  • How can agriculture help reduce the negative impacts of natural disasters?
  • Why is prevention the key?
  • What agriculture practices do you feel would help prevent/decrease damage/loss during natural disasters?

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Where in the world is the bird flu?

It wasn't too long ago that we were battling bird flu here in the United States and it was constantly in the news. Talk of bird flu has recently quieted and you might think it is no longer an issue. However, the linked article takes a look at bird flu around the world currently and it is evident it is still something to keep an eye on and protect against. Read through the linked article and utilize the discussion points below to guide you conversations around the globe.

Bird Flu Latest - H5N8 Outbreaks Around Europe and Beyond

Discussion Points

  • Where are we currently seeing bird flu outbreaks around the world?
  • What types of birds are being impacted?
  • Is there anything that surprised you or you found interesting from this article? Explain.
  • Has your home area dealt with bird flu recently or in the past? 
  • Assume the role of an agriculture/poultry expert. How would you slow/stop the spread of bird flu?

Monday, January 9, 2017

Travel = Flexability and Adaptability

Sunday marked a long day of travel back to Iowa from Haiti. We enjoyed some delicious cinnamon rolls and said our goodbyes before hitting the road for a three and a half hour drive to Port au Prince to catch our first of three flights for the day. It was an interesting day of travel as flexibility and adaptability were the themes of the day.



We had an excited passenger on our flight from Port au Prince to Miami. This lead to him receiving a personal escort off our plane when we reached Miami. Police, boarder control, and TSA were happy to come on the plane and show him to the exit when we landed. Due to this it delayed us slightly as we looked to deplane and make our way through customs. It was tight, but we made our connection to Chicago. Upon arrival in Chicago we started to make our way to our gate for the final leg of our trek home, when we received notification of our flight being delayed an hour. While this was not good news we did take the opportunity to grab food many had been craving while in Haiti.

After making our final connection to Waterloo we touched down a little after 10:30 PM. Unfortunately, three checked bags did not make the same travels we did throughout the day. Flexibility and adaptability were definitely traits we looked for on our travel day as well as the entire week. Thanks to all who ventured to Haiti, supported us, and continue to look to the future! Great things are ahead as we continue our collaboration with UCCC!