Thursday, December 15, 2016

Rainout Shelters Provide Droughts

Linked below we highlight technology being developed by a group in Australia to assist researchers with plant breeding and developing drought tolerant varieties. While rainout shelters are not a new technology these from Australia have some new features that make them unique. Look over the linked article and take advantage of the discussion points below to guide your conversations.

Rain Out, Research In

Discussion Points

  • Explain the purpose of rainout shelters and why they are important.
  • What benefits do these new rainout shelters from Australia have over traditional rainout shelters?
  • Why is it important to test new varieties in the field and not exclusively in greenhouses?
  • These rainout shelters provide an environment for great research and the varieties being developed provide great promise. What challenges still face getting these newly developed varieties to the farmers around the world that need them? How can these challenges be overcome?

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Dairy and Asian Nutrition

What hunger and nutrition looks like is changing in Asia. The article linked below takes a look at hunger and nutrition trends and issues in Asia. We encourage you to read the linked article and have conversations with others around the globe utilizing the discussion points provided.

Dairy Potential Ally in Asian Nutrition

Discussion Points

  • What has been the trend in regards to hunger in Asia in the last 25 years and why have we seen this?
  • How are diets and health changing in Asia and why?
  • What is the difference between hunger and malnutrition?
  • Why are small dairy farmers in Asia key to battling malnutrition?
  • What are additional ways that nutrition can be improved in Asia as well as your local community?
  • Often times people will state that "healthy food starts with a healthy soil." What does this statement mean to you?

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Smallholder Farmers Have Huge Impact

More and more we hear about the great impact that smallholder farmers have within agriculture. While we often hear this there is not a lot of information on location, size, and other details relating to smallholder farmers. A recent study from the University of Minnesota is working to provide some of this data. Read through the linked article below and utilize the discussion points to guide conversations in your classrooms, coffee shops, and communities around the world. If you want to dive into the topic deeper the complete study is linked within the article providing further analysis and data.

Map of Farming Households Created

Discussion Points

  • There has not been a lot of information/data regarding smallholder farmers in the past. Why do you feel this is the case?
  • Why is it important to understand the number, location, and distribution of small farms?
  • Study the "Mean Agricultural Area" map provided. What jumps out to you?
  • Why are smallholder farmers key to feeding our world?
  • This map is a great first step in collecting data and information regarding smallholder farmers. What other information would you like to see collected and why?

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Global Agriculture Watch

There is a lot happening in agriculture markets around the world. A link below provides a look around the globe concerning agriculture supply and demand and potential impacts on markets. While it focuses on impacts to the United States markets you can apply the information to all markets around the world. We encourage you to read the article linked below and utilize the discussion points provided to guide conversations in your classrooms and communities around the globe.

Global Game-Changers

Discussion Points

  • Brazil and Argentina agriculture look to have great impact on United States markets. What will these impacts be and why respectively for each country?
  • Outside of Brazil and Argentina of the countries and scenarios listed which do you feel will have the most positive impact on your home country and why?
  • Outside of Brazil and Argentina of the countries and scenarios listed which do you feel will have the most negative impact on your home country and why?
  • Which country's scenario do you find the most intriguing and why?

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

GMO's, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, and Economics

GMO's (genetically modified organisms) are always a hot topic issue around the world. Recently Purdue University conducted research on GMO's globally. They focused on two separate scenarios revolving around GMO crop production. This article takes a look at how changes in GMO crop production could change the way we live in different parts of the world. I encourage you to read the linked article and then utilize the discussion points below to guide conversations around the globe.

Model Predicts GMO Impacts

Discussion Points

  • What two scenarios were researched as part of this project?
  • What were the findings from each scenario? Be specific.
  • Where does your home country fit into the GMO perceptions and regulations picture?
  • Why would poorer countries be impacted greater than more developed countries with each scenario?
  • The article states that the U.S. would actually benefit economically from a global GMO ban even though the U.S. is a leader in GMO production. Why is this the case?
  • The article states several times the safety of GMO's and the science behind it. Take some time to research the science behind GMO's and share your findings.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Battling Sheep and Goat Plague

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) are teaming up to battle Peste des petits ruminants (PPR) and eradicate the disease by 2030. PPR is a disease that is ravaging sheep and goat flocks in parts of the world. The linked article provides facts and the plan for this. Along with the article on the right side of the webpage there are additional links to provide better understanding. You are encouraged to read the linked article and watch the linked video below. From there utilize the discussion points to guide conversations in your classrooms and communities around the world!

FAO and OIE Global Campaign to Eradicate PPR

PPR Video

Discussion Points

  • What is PPR and why is it such a concern?
  • Animal diseases can have negative impacts on human health, but what other areas can they negatively affect? Explain.
  • How can farmers protect their flocks from PPR currently?
  • What parts of the world are being directly impacted by PPR and why are these areas such a concern?
  • How does the FAO and OIE plan to work together to eradicate PPR? Evaluate the plan. What do you like? What would you improve?

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Haitian Agriculture Suffering from Hurricane Matthew

The article linked below discusses the effects of Hurricane Matthew on the country of Haiti. For a country already suffering from food insecurity this concern has been magnified with the recent storm. Read the linked article and spark conversation with others around the globe utilizing the discussion points below.

Food Security of Haitians Threatened

Discussion Points

  • How has Hurricane Matthew effected agriculture and food supplies in Haiti? Be specific.
  • What do you feel are the immediate and long term steps needed to reach food security in the country of Haiti?
  • It is evident the impact that Hurricane Matthew is having on Haiti. What other natural disasters have we seen around the world that have a negative impact on agriculture and to what extent?
  • What can be done to better protect farmers and countries from natural disasters in the future?

Friday, October 14, 2016

Borlaug Dialogue Closes: Take Action

Today was the third and final day of the World Food Prize and Borlaug Dialogue for us. It was a great three days of learning and we are excited to tackle the challenge of feeding approximately 10 million people by 2050. Once again we have highlights from sessions from day three below. Utilize the points below to keep the conversations going and from there take action to feed our growing world.

Here is a picture of the four Laureates for this year on the stage this morning explaining their project with sweet potatoes.

Breakfast Keynote Address: Liam Condon
  • Diversity is crucial in agriculture.
  • When offering solutions in agriculture they must fit with local culture.
  • "For he who has health, has hope and he who has hope, has everything." Thomas Carlyle
The Challenge of Change: Engaging Public Universities to Feed the World
  • We need to focus more on interdisciplinary work and collaboration.
  • We need to focus on problems rather than disciplines.
  •  This is a global agenda and will take global partnerships.
Women Leaders Driving Science and Innovation for Agricultural Transformation in Africa
  • People don't trust traditional knowledge.
  • Women scientists face the challenge of validating themselves.
  • We must bring mechanization to women in Africa.
A Conversation with the 2016 World Food Prize Laureates
  • We must keep our eye on the goal. Improve dietary quality.
  • If you are speaking different languages you'll be doing different things. (Scientific versus arts, etc.)
  • Having both parties in the same room isn't enough. They also must listen to each other.
Celebrating 30 Years of the Borlaug-Sasakawa/World Food Prize Legacy
  • We have to be ready for anything and everything.
  • Norm's Keys to Success
    • He was passionate
    • He never gave up
    • He kept it simple
  • We must be on the ground battling everyday to solve world hunger. Do it and do it on the ground/in the fields.
While this may have concluded the 30th World Food Prize and Borlaug Dialogue please do not let your conversations around the world stop. Keep the dialogue going and take action to tackle the challenges in front of us!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Inspiring Day Two at The World Food Prize

It was a great second and full day at The World Food Prize in Des Moines, Iowa. As yesterday, we will highlight key points from various sessions and presentations throughout the day. We encourage you to reflect on the points below and entertain discussion with others around the globe!

Borlaug-Rockefeller: Inspiring the Next Generation

  • Instead of buying machinery we need an Uber for farm equipment in developing countries.
  • Sending out technology without training is a waste.
  • We must improve teamwork to move forward in agriculture. The human species must work better together.
Presentation form Kellogg Company
  • One in nine people globally are hungry.
  • We will need 70% more food by 2050.
  • We must work with farmers on climate smart practices, increased yields, and sustainability.
Presentation from Hormel Foods
Hormel highlighted the work they are doing in Guatemala with project Spammy. Spammy is a fortified poultry (turkey) spread providing needed vitamins and minerals to diets. Spammy is a product that can be spread onto and cooked into many dishes. It took many strong partners working together to achieve this success.

Keynote Address from the World Bank Group
  • 156 million children under the age of five are stunted worldwide.
  • Only half of three to six year olds have access to pre-primary education.
  • Investing in young children supports economic growth.
  • Made a call for smart policies, scientific innovation, and political will.
Presentation from DuPont
  • Individuals are much more likely to suffer chronic diseases throughout like if undernourished in younger years.
  • The focus should not just be on calories.
  • Small holder farmers are critical to food security.
Weathering the Storms: Progress and Challenges for Agriculture and Food Security in Asia and Latin America
  • We have a huge opportunity with data. We now have lots of data. The key is how we use it.
  • There have been many benefits of more exported agriculture products including improved food safety and quality around the world. With exports all are held to a higher standard.
  • No country on it's own can be food secure and nutritious with what it produces.
Keynote Address: H.E. Akinwumi A. Adesina
  • Don't just focus on filling the stomach, but filling the body with nutrition.
  • Stunted children today leads to a stunted economy tomorrow.
  • Access to food in the right quantity and quality is every human's right.
Presentation from Syngenta Seeds
  • Good growth plan is needed
    • More food, less waste
    • More biodiversity, less degradation
    • More health, less poverty
  • If you can measure it, you can manage it. If you can manage it, you can improve it.
  • Open access to information is key.
Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack Address
  • We need to develop a greater respect for science.
  • In the U.S. we need to better recognize the role of women in agriculture.
  • In U.S. 30% of farmers income comes from trade and exports. Trade is essential to agriculture.
It was another spectacular day with many great connections made! We look forward to the third and final day of the Borlaug Dialogue on Friday.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

World Food Prize is Here!

It is mid October which means one thing...It's World Food Prize time! Each night following the Borlaug Dialogue we will post highlights from the day to get you thinking and discussing these topics around the globe. Tuesday of this week we hosted Emiliano Mroue on campus, as part of the World Food Prize Lecture Series, to share the work he is doing in Sierra Leone with The West African Rice Company. He is truly doing amazing work and making a huge impact. We are working on getting this video uploaded to share with all.

Today (Wednesday) we traveled with a group of students to Des Moines to kickoff the Borlaug Dialogue as part of the World Food Prize Events. The afternoon started with Ambassador Kenneth Quinn kicking off the 30th World Food Prize, many great sessions throughout the afternoon, and concluded with a program and reception recognizing the winner of the Norman Borlaug Award for Field Research and Application.

Here is a picture at the Hall of Laureates with students and faculty from Hawkeye Community College.

Below we will give brief highlights of each session to spark discussion around the globe! Here is a recap of day one.

Conflict, Stability, and Achieving Global Food Security
  • There are three big areas that are causing food insecurity:
    • Climate change
    • Poor/failed government
    • Conflict
  • Today we have more people displaced from their homes due to conflict than we have had since World War II.
  • In regards to worldwide conflict and stability things are bad now, but they will be far worse three months from now. "It's not going to be pretty, it's not going to be easy, but we must do something."
Global Food Security and National Security
  • We must look at more than food availability, but food governance and control.
  • Food production is currently good. We must address distribution and price worldwide.
  • More frequent extreme weather events will threaten agriculture production.
Food Security in Crisis
  • Key to success in all agriculture development projects are strong partnerships.
  • One problem is technology is on the shelves in developing countries, but it never reaches the farmer.
  • More training and extension services are needed for farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa and developing countries.
Availability of a Healthy Global Diet
  • Obesity rates are increasing worldwide.
  • We need improved dietary diversity around the world.
  • We need safer storage and to find ways to extend life of fruits and vegetables throughout the year.
Norman Borlaug Award for Field Research and Application

This years award winner is Dr. Andrew Mude of Kenya. Mude was recognized for his work developing an "Index-Based Livestock Insurance" program. In an area where insurance had not existed before he created a system that uses technology from NASA and satellite imagery to identify areas experiencing weather disasters, such as floods and droughts that take animal life, that in turn identifies farmers in these areas and automatically sends insurance checks. 

It was a great first day and we look to continue dialogue tomorrow as we face the challenges and opportunities before us in agriculture and feeding our growing world!

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Magic Beans

A company in England is working on "magic beans" that will aid those in agriculture and other industries outside of agriculture as well. Linked below is an article that highlights the possibilities for these magic beans within agriculture and secondly the BeanIoT website. We encourage you to look over the linked articles and discuss with others this technology that may be coming to agriculture around the globe very soon!

'Magic Beans' Monitor Grain Bins

BeanIoT Website

Discussion Points

  • Explain these "magic beans." What do they look like and how do they work?
  • What are their capabilities within agriculture?
  • What are their capabilities outside of agriculture in your everyday lives?
  • Do you see this technology being utilized by those in agriculture in your local communities? Explain.
  • Within agriculture where do you see the BeanIoT of most use? Why.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Why the food waste?

There are many challenges facing us as we work to feed over 9 billion people by 2050. While we must increase production to meet this demand in the future, many will note, that currently we are producing enough food to feed our population as is. There are several factors that are keeping us from feeding our current population including costs, infrastructure. and much more. One of the challenges we face is the waste of food. Linked below is a video from the Food and Agriculture Organization. I encourage you to watch the video (around three minutes) and then utilize the discussion points provided below to guide your conversations in your classrooms, coffee shops, and communities around the world!

Food Wastage Footprint

Discussion Points

  • How much food do we waste and what are the impacts of this?
  • What was one of the most surprising/interesting facts that you took from this video?
  • Reflect on your school, household, and community. Where do you see food waste?
  • This video highlights food waste issues in developed countries. However, we still see this degree of food loss in developing countries as well. How does developing countries food waste/loss differ from those in developed countries? 
  • What can be done to cut down on food waste around the world in all settings? Start with your home and then move to your local community, country, and then world.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Farmers Push Trans-Pacific Partnership

This week we take a look at an article that highlights corn producers efforts to push the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) through congress. It shares where things stand with the TPP, why there is the push, and what challenges lie ahead. Read the linked article and then utilize the discussion questions to guide your conversations.

Corn Farmers Push Congress to Pass TPP

Discussion Points

  • Why is the TPP a positive thing for American farmers?
  • Why are farmers so concerned with getting the passage of the TPP now rather than later?
  • What could the passage of the TPP mean to the rest of the world?
  • Do some additional research. Where do the current presidential candidates stand in regards to the TPP?

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Global Commodity Food Prices

This week we feature the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) food price index. The linked website shares what the food price index is and what trends we are seeing. We encourage you to explore the different commodity areas and reasonings for increases and decreases of specific commodity areas and the overall direction of commodity prices. After you analyze this website use the discussion points below to guide your conversations around the world.

FAO Food Price Index

Discussion Points

  • Explain what the FAO Food Price Index is and how it works.
  • Which index/commodity has seen the greatest increase and decrease recently and why?
  • What has the been the trend of the FAO Food Price Index over the past 15 years?
  • What do you think the future trend will be of the FAO Food Price Index? Justify your reasoning.
  • What factors have an affect on setting the FAO Food Price Index?

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Natural Disasters Impacting Agriculture

This week we feature a short video (2 minutes and 40 seconds) from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations that explores the impact of natural disasters on agriculture around the world. This video presents many topics that encourage thought and analysis. We encourage you to watch this short video and then share dialogue around the globe utilizing the discussion points provided below.

Discussion Points
  • What has the trend been over the past 20-30 years regarding natural disasters? What could be driving (causing) these trends?
  • How have these disasters impacted agriculture? Give specific examples.
  • Have you seen natural disasters affect agriculture in your local area? Explain.
  • What challenges face us currently in regards to natural disasters and agriculture?
  • What opportunities do we have in front of us to combat the effects of natural disasters on agriculture? (What can be done to help?)

Thursday, September 1, 2016

African Agricultural Development

Recently the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations held a side event at the Tokyo International Conference on African Development that highlighted agriculture development as a key tool in providing peace and resolve to conflicted areas in Africa. Read the linked article summarizing this event below and utilize the discussion points provided to spark conversations around the globe!

No Peace Without Freedom From Want

Discussion Points

  • The director of the FAO emphasized the importance of agriculture development in keeping peace and resolving conflict. How would you justify this statement (how does agriculture do this)?
  • Why is the UN so focused on bringing peace to this area (what percentage of UN peacekeeping missions take place in this area)?
  • What successes have been seen in the Democratic Republic of Congo in regards to agriculture development? Do you believe these success can be duplicated throughout Africa? Explain your reasoning.
  • Explain what the Initiative for Food and Nutrition Security in Africa is focused on. In your mind what needs to be done to make sure this initiative is successful?
  • Why do you believe Tokyo would be so interested in African development?

Thursday, August 25, 2016

China and Rooftop Agriculture

About a month ago I came across an interesting article that I wanted to share. The article linked below describes a rooftop farm in China. Along with the article two videos are shared. The first video gives you an up close look at the rooftop garden that is featured in China. The second video discusses agriculture practices and policy in China. I encourage you to read the article and watch the two videos included in the article and discuss the points below.

Sky-high farms: Rooftop agriculture growing in popularity

Video 1: Sky-high Farms
  • How is this rooftop farm connecting urban populations to agriculture?
  • Would something like this be successful in your home country, state, or local community?
  • Rooftop gardens are becoming more common, but what is your thought on adding animals to this rooftop farm?
Video 2: China's Agriculture Sector
  • What factors are causing a shift in agriculture production and practices within China?
  • How is China looking to modernize farms and why is this needed?
  • What is China's stance on GMO's? May their stance be changing moving forward?
  • How does land ownership work in China?
Let the conversations begin! Discuss in your classrooms, coffee shops, and communities around the world!

Friday, May 13, 2016

Rice and Drought in Asia

Currently there is a drought impacting Asia due to the El Nino weather pattern. It is causing havoc for farmers and drying up rivers in Asia. While the drought has impacted rice production there has not been a big change in rice prices. These details are discussed in the article linked below and discussion points have been provided to guide conversations in your classrooms and communities around the world.

Rice Prices Stay Sideways Despite Drought

Discussion Points

  • Why is this region that is being affected by drought so important to rice production?
  • Why has there not been a big change to rice prices in Asia despite the drought?
  • What is the impact of construction of hydroelectric dams in this same area?
  • Will this impact growers and/or rice prices in the United States? Explain.
  • At what point do you believe rice prices could be impacted in Asia? Explain your reasoning.
  • How would a severe drought impact your local agriculture economy?

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Farming in the Sky

Urban farming is gaining momentum across the globe and this is evident in the Netherlands which now claims fame to the largest urban farm in Europe. Urban Farmers, the company behind this urban farm, hope to provide 900 families along with local restaurants and a cooking school with vegetables and fish. Read the linked article below detailing this project and utilize the discussion points provided to create conversations in your classrooms and communities.

Greenhouse in the Sky

Discussion Points

  • Why is there a demand for urban farms like this around the world? 
  • Why is there great potential to replicate this type of production?
  • Explain the aquaponics system explained in this article and the efficiency that it brings.
  • Do you see something like this taking off in your local community? Explain.
  • Discuss the proposal by a hog farmer to integrate hog production into the urban scene? Do you think one day this will be accomplished? Explain.
  • Is urban farming a fad? React to the following statement from the article: “I always refer to the debates about parks in the city in the past. I think in 100 years, urban agriculture will be as normal as the city parks we have today.”

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Vietnam and the United States: The Possibilities

If you have been around agriculture and trade discussions lately you are well aware of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement that is in the works. This is something that many in agriculture in the United States wish was already in place due to the markets it would open. The linked article is a report from the USDA that highlights the opportunities that are availability for trade between Vietnam and the United States. After reading the linked article use the discussion points below to guide conversations in your classrooms and communities around the world!

TPP: New Opportunities for Vietnam and the U.S.

Discussion Points

  • What are the advantages to both Vietnam and the United States if the TPP agreement happens?
  • If the TPP agreement fails what is likely to happen with the trade relations between Vietnam and the United States considering other factors mentioned in this article?
  • How would the TPP agreement affect the following groups if it gets put into place?
    • Agriculture producers in the United States
    • Agriculture producers in Vietnam
    • Consumers in the United States
    • Consumers in Vietnam
  • Who and why might someone be against the TPP agreement?
  • Pick out one specific area (livestock, horticulture, or grains and oil seeds) mentioned in the article and analyze more in depth the impacts of TPP. Share your findings with others.  
Do a little more research: Give us an overall summary of the TPP agreement.
  • How long has this been in the works?
  • What countries does it involve?
  • What is overall public perception regarding the agreement?

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Agriculture Key to Peace

The President of Central African Republic (CAR) has made improving agriculture production and practices across CAR a priority. The linked article takes a deeper look at the importance of focusing on and improving agriculture. Look over the article linked below and strike up conversation in your communities and classrooms utilizing the discussion points provided.

Ag is Key to Achieving Lasting Peace in Central African Republic

Discussion Points

  • Explain the importance of agriculture to CAR. 
    • How much of the countries population relies on agriculture? 
    • Why is there so much potential for growth in agriculture?
  • What is needed to improve agriculture in CAR? How could this be done?
  • Why is agriculture key to peace and stability in CAR or any country for that matter?
  • What do you predict would happen if agriculture was to collapse in your home community/country?

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

China Key for EU Pork Producers

Pork prices have been struggling in the European Union, but there is hope ahead. Linked below is an article that discusses the many factors that have lead to declining pork prices for the EU and why there is hope ahead. Read through the linked article and utilize the discussion points to spark conversations in your classrooms and communities around the world.

Struggling EU Pig Farmers Look to China for Hope

Discussion Points

  • What has caused a decline in pork prices for the European Union?
  • Why is the demand for pork imports into China increasing?
  • What has the European Commission done to protect farmers in the EU? Does your home country have similar protection policies like this in place? Are these policies fair?
  • Why is China likely to turn to the EU, before the US to acquire additional pork imports?
  • This article tells a great story of international trade and world markets. Recently at a conference I attended the following was stated, "This isolation theory that is out there is scary for agriculture." What does this mean to you and how would isolation of a country affect it's agriculture and food supply?

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Tilapia in Danger

There is a new virus that has been discovered that is causing tilapia fish to die around the world. This is affecting wild and farm raised tilapia. Linked below is an article that discusses the details behind this new virus that is having a huge impact on tilapia production and implications on feeding our world. Use the discussion points below to guide your conversations around the world in classrooms to coffee shops.

Researchers Discover New Fish Virus

Discussion Points

  • Why are talapia so important to feeding our world?
  • Explain how the talapia is truly a global fish.
  • How did researchers determine this was a new virus affecting talapia?
  • Why is it troubling that the same new virus was found so far apart throughout the world?
  • Hypothesize how the disease could have traveled so far, as it is affecting talapia in Israel and Ecuador.
  • How would you recommend to stop the spread of this new virus among talapia? 

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Soybeans: To Accept or Not

Featured below is an article from Ag Web that discusses the possibility of some elevators not accepting Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans in the United States due to policies in place around the world with different countries. We encourage you to explore the linked article and startup conversations around the world in your classrooms and communities utilizing the provided discussion questions.

Elevators Say 'No Thanks' to Extend Soybeans

Discussion Points

  • Why are some elevators not accepting Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans in the United States?
  • Why are many confident that in the future Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans will be accepted by the EU?
  • How could the decision of the EU affect markets, supply, etc. in regards to accepting or not accepting Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans? 
  • If you were a farmer and preparing for planting, would you plant Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans or go with another option? Justify your response.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Lab Grown Meat

This week we look at a new and controversial way to produce meat. Some scientists around the globe are working on ways to produce meat in a lab from cells. The linked article below was first printed last fall, but gives interesting insight into the task. There is a video that is included with the article that has one of the scientists explaining the process. We encourage you to look over the linked article and encourage you to start up conversations in your classrooms, communities, and around the world utilizing the discussion points below!

Team Wants to Sell Lab Grown Meat

Discussion Points

  • Explain why scientists are pushing for this. What are the benefits they shared?
  • How is this process achieved? How is lab grown meat created?
  • At this time what are the challenges/drawbacks of lab grown meat?
  • Currently how is lab grown meat similar/different than meat from animal production?
  • How do you think this method of meat production will be perceived in your local community and around the world? Be sure to explain your response. 

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Reform Needed for China Agriculture

China is facing many challenges in agriculture and the agriculture minister in China is calling for some needed reform. One major issue that the agriculture minister is wanting to address is the supply of corn and policies that are in place. Linked below is an article that takes a closer look at this issue along with others. We encourage you to read through the linked article and then utilize the discussion points below to jump start conversation in your classrooms, coffee shops, and communities around the world!

China Farm Sector Needs Supply-Side Reform

Discussion Points

  • Why is the agriculture minister calling for "supply-side" reform? How could this reform affect prices and supply globally and in your local communities?
  • Explain the corn production in China and policies surrounding production over the last couple of years? What are your thoughts on what has been happening? Explain.
  • What recommendation is the agriculture minister making to increase farmers profitability while calling for reform at the same time? Does his recommendation apply to farmers around the world?
  • There are two other areas that the government is stepping in and creating law/policy for that are mentioned towards the end of the article. What are these two recommendations? Why are these recommendations important?

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Sharing Agricultural Innovations Around the World

Today was a great first day at the Global Agriculture Summit at Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa! This event is designed to create connections and relationships locally and globally in agriculture while encouraging action. To open the conference four key words were highlighted and shared as the theme of the conference. These are as follows: inspire, connect, equip, and act. Below you will find some highlights from the conference, a recap of the Agri-Ed Talk that I presented, and then discussion points to foster conversations in your classrooms, communities, and around the globe.

Some key quotes from the conference:

  • "My African friends say, We want trade, not aid." Doug Seebeck
  • "You have to experience a life changing event before you can change the world." Doug Seebeck
  • "We are making stunning progress in feeding our growing world." David Beckmann
  • "We must focus and invest in agriculture and nutrition in our poorest countries." David Beckmann
  • Two-thirds of those living in poverty depend on agriculture as their livelihood." David Beckmann
  • "Soil and life are married." Fred Kirschenmann
  • "We always have to change to stay sustainable." Fred Kirschenmann
  • "Change has to come from the bottom up, not the top down." Fred Kirschenmann
As part of the day I represented the Global Agriculture Learning Center and gave a short talk titled "Sharing Agricultural Innovations Around the World." This talk addressed the following areas: 
  • Definition of innovation
  • Why is it important/needed to share innovation in agriculture 
  • What innovation looks like in different parts of the world
  • How the Global Agriculture Learning Center is sharing innovation around the world
  • Challenged participants to find opportunities to share innovation in agriculture with others

Discussion Points
  • Explain your interpretation of the quote that Fred made above "Soil and life are married."
  • Which one of the other "key quotes" sticks out to you? Why? Explain and expand on the quote.
  • Why is sharing innovation in agriculture with others around the world important? 
  • How can you share innovation in agriculture with others in your local community, state, country, and around the world? I challenge you to take action regarding your response!
We look forward to great day two at the Global Agriculture Summit!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

India Milk Production Soars

Below you will find a link to an article discussing milk and dairy production in India. Production has recently boomed in India and this article takes a look at why this has occurred  along with it's impacts and future outlook. Read the linked article and use the discussion points below to share conversations with others.

India Milk Production

Discussion Points

  • What have been the trends in dairy/milk production in India and what has caused these trends?
  • What effect has India's dairy production had on global milk markets and trade?
  • What recent change has effected dairy production and trade in the European Union? Explain.
  • What does the outlook for dairy production look like globally?
  • Additional Research: The article mentioned milk production from cows and buffalo. Compare and contrast milk production between cows and buffalo and share your findings with others.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Conservation Agriculture in Paraguay

This week we explore an article summarizing a study on conservation agriculture and it's adoption in Paraguay. The study highlights the success and struggles in adoption of conservation agriculture practices within the country. After reading the article use the discussion points below to foster conversation around the globe.

Conservation Agriculture and Smallholder Farmers

Discussion Points
  • What has caused small farms in Paraguay to fall behind in conservation agriculture practices?
  • On the other side what has aided medium to large farms to find success with conservation agriculture practices?
  • What factors can lead to farmers (especially smallholder farmers) being skeptical of conservation agriculture at first?
  • What could be done to help farmers transition to conservation agriculture practices with more success?
  • What does conservation agriculture look like in your home area? What are the trends?

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Egypt Wheat Dilemma

Currently wheat trade has been halted with Egypt due to numerous reasons. The linked article below takes a look at why this has happened and the implications that it is having. We encourage you to read over the article below and start conversations with the discussion points provided.

Discussion Points
  • What factors have caused wheat trade with Egypt to halt?
  • What effects has this had on wheat prices and supplies around the world?
  • Why do many believe that Egypt cannot continue to afford this wheat standoff?
  • What does wheat crop and supply look like globally right now? What does this mean for Egypt and the rest of the world?
  • Why is international trade important to all countries worldwide? 

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Farms in a Box

This week we are featuring a story from CNN that was shared last summer, but is still a hot topic. It takes a look at some innovators who are farming in boxes. There is a short article, but also includes a two minute video that explains how the systems work and what is being grown. Check out the linked video and article and then use the discussion points to engage in conversations around the globe!

Farms in a Box

Discussion Points

  • Compare and contrast the advantages and disadvantages of producing vegetables and food in this manner. 
  • Explain how the "farm in a box" work,
  • What role does technology play in these freight farms?
  • How could this method of farming help address the issue of food insecurity?
  • How would this method of farming be perceived in your local community? Explain.
  • Brainstorm other methods similar to this that could be used in agriculture. Share these ideas and discuss the possibilities!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

GM Cotton Production in India

This week we take a look at an interview with Ganesh Nanote, a farmer from India. Ganesh explains production practices, trends, reasoning, and challenges facing agriculture in India, specifically around cotton production. I encourage you to read the interview conducted by Aneela Mirchandani and reflect with others using the discussion points below.

Profile of an Indian Farmer

Discussion Points

  • How are GMO's (genetically modified organisms) viewed around the world?
  • There is a big debate on seed technology and patents that go with them. Reflect on the following statement from the interview regarding seed freedom, "This is a question of the farmer's freedom to select his seed and access technology." What is your stance and why?
  • Ganesh does an excellent job of telling the story of how cotton production in India has transformed since the early 1990's. Explain this transformation and the advantages or disadvantages that have accompanied.
  • In countries where farmers have large plots of land they plant a percentage of non-Bt seed along side Bt seed to fight resistance issues. In countries were farmers have smaller plots of land this is not always possible. What are these farmers doing to combat resistance? Do you have any other ideas they could try?
  • Many argue that poor farmers cannot afford GM seeds due to the cost of the technology behind them. How does Ganesh respond to this? What is your view? Explain.
  • Explain how Ganesh equates farming and soil health to someones IQ and nutritional health.
  • What challenges are facing farmers in India according to Ganesh? Are farmers around the world and in your community facing these same challenges? What could be done to address these challenges in your opinion?

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Argentine Wheat

Argentina is loading ships with wheat bound for locations around the world including the United States. The article linked below explores the story behind increased exports from Argentina. After reading the article linked use the discussion points provided to guide your conversations around the globe!

Argentine Wheat Returns to the U.S.

Discussion Points

  • What has led to the increase of wheat shipments from Argentina to locations around the world?
  • What has caused farmers from the United States to purchase wheat from Argentina for feed for livestock?
  • Who is the number one purchaser of Argentine wheat? Why do you believe they are the number one buyer?
  • Do you feel that this trend of major wheat exports out of Argentina will continue? Justify your response.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Farming the Desert

This week we take a look at the efforts in Egypt to increase agriculture productivity to feed a growing country, continent, and world. There are many challenges facing farmers and the linked article gives some insight into what is happening in Egypt. Read the linked article and use the discussion points below to guide your conversations.

Farming the Sahara

Discussion Points

  • While the market in El Obour is buzzing with activity and goods why is Egypt facing a domestic food shortage?
  • What is the government doing to address this crisis?
  • Why are some concerned that the current plan from President Abdel and the government will fail?
  • Explain the issues around water availability in Egypt.
  • When Egypt does produce Ag products they often end up in the European Union. Why is this the case? What are the impacts of this?
  • Create a list of challenges that are facing agriculture in Egypt.
    • How can these challenges be overcome?
    • Which do you feel is the biggest challenge facing agriculture in Egypt?
    • Do you believe that Egypt will overcome these challenges and find success? Justify your response.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Reflecting on Haiti

We had a spectacular week in Haiti working with students of all ages sharing our passion for agriculture! We were able to work with students at the elementary and university to promote and improve agriculture practices. We continue to see growth and potential with Haitian agriculture. We built upon the practices we shared last year. To keep things moving forward we are scheduling frequent internet conferencing meetings to provide education for both sides throughout the year and keep things moving forward. We are, also, excited to partner with UCCC to provide a conference for farmers across Haiti in 2017! Below is a picture of the 2016 team.

On the way home we had time in the Dallas airport to reflect on our time in Haiti. I asked each participant the one big thing that stuck out at them and will share the responses now:

Dalton emphasized that there is so much potential. They have so much knowledge and skills they just need guidance and encouragement to apply it.

Mitch enjoyed picking up the relationships that were started last year and building those relationships while forging new friendships.

Kayla was excited to see how religion is such a big part of their culture and intertwines with all they do including agriculture.

Alex was impressed by the knowledge the professors share and seeing the opportunities for applied learning they have before them.

Julie was inspired by the excitement and potential of the medical and agriculture students working together to improve health through agriculture.

Kyle looks forward to staying connected over the next year to move projects forward and keep improving.

Meghan was provided the opportunity to learn about agricultural practices with limited resources. She loved educating Haitians with even more ways to use under utilized resources to improve soil health for a more bountiful food supply.

I (Brad) am excited about the Haiti Ag Summit and potential to share agriculture with a larger group in Haiti to keep moving things forward.

You can see this experience had a great impact both on the students and faculty in Haiti as well as with our group from the Global Agriculture Learning Center at Hawkeye Community College. We cannot wait to see what the future holds!

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Coming Home

Friday morning we had a great time sitting down and discussing a plan to continue moving agriculture forward in Haiti. A great plan has been developed and we look forward to some upcoming opportunities. After our morning meeting we departed the Caiman area to head to the airport. There was a surprise rain the night before so we hit some wet roads on the way to the airport. Friday afternoon we flew out of Port au Prince on our way to Miami, before departing for Dallas where we spent the night before the final leg of our travels returning us to Cedar Rapids a little after noon on Saturday. Be watching for a recap of our time in Haiti over the next couple days. 

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Build the Soil

We started off the morning with our great elementary students with our "what we know about agriculture" lesson, but this time shared it with 4th graders. At the end of the lesson they raised the chain above their head while in a circle and stated "Agriculture feeds the world!" in both Creole and English.

Next we had some down time before our afternoon activities so we loaded up and headed to a project where UCI is helping a woman by building a new house. We got to work up a good sweat with some manual labor prepping for the footings of the house. Pick axes and shovels were the tools of choice although a bowl works in a pinch. 

After lunch we continued with English lessons at the elementary, this time working with the 4th graders on English. As we have advanced through the grade levels it has been great to see the development and ability to speak English grow! Following English we made our way to the university to have a discussion on soil nutrition and plant production. Great emphasis was placed on building the soil and its productivity. Many ideas where exchanged and we challenged the Haitian students to pick one of the practices we brainstormed and experiment with it over the next couple months. We are working on a way to share their results to keep up on their progress. 

Following our discussion with agrculture students we moved to a larger classroom so we could combine medical and agriculture students for a presentation by Julie Grunklee on the importance of bringing agriculture and health together. It was great to have participants with Community Health Initiative (CHI) join us for the presentation and the rest of our time in Haiti. At the conclusion of Julie's presentation we made our way to the roof top of the university to change out batteries in our weather station sensors and watch the sun set over the Haiti landscape. 

We enjoyed pizza for dinner before the men's choir from the area joined us to perform many Haitian numbers before inviting us to join them for their final song in English. At the conclusion of the singing we enjoyed a final Coke by our tree out front and reflected on our experiences and got to know the folks from CHI a little better. We prep for a long time of travel over the next day and a half. 

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Goats to Guano

Our time is flying by in Haiti! Hard to believe that we only have one full day left in Haiti. We started off our day by returning to our energetic 5th and 6th graders to elaborate on our agriculture lesson from the day before. After further discussion we had the students build an agriculture chain. Students had to write agriculture facts on strips of paper and hook them together to make a chain that we hung around the classrooms.

Next we made our way to the university where we spent much of the morning discussing livestock production focusing on hogs and dairy goats with a little bit of chicken production. There was discussion on all aspects of production from breeding to meat production. The students had many questions for us and we're very appreciative of all that our students shared with them. 

Following lunch we had brief English lessons with the 3rd and 4th graders before we met back up with the university students. They took us to their goat production area where most goats are Alpines or have some Alpine blood in them. We covered topics from feeding to health. We discovered they battle many of the same issues we do in the United States such as mastitis. We were shown an interesting way of checking pregnancy as well. 

After our time with the goats we hiked to a cave where guano is collected for use as fertilizer. This was a great workout and many enjoyed exploring the cave. We then returned to campus where we attended a Wednesday night church service before meeting around our favorite tree to plan our lessons for Thursday. It is great to see the magnitude of learning taking place by both sides, Hatians and Americans!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Precision Farming in Haiti

Today was a great day filled with agriculture and education! We started off the day with 5th and 6th graders at the elementary school. We shared a lesson revolving around agriculture awareness. We had the students create a list of agriculture related concepts in Haiti. They compiled a great list that we discussed. We will return tomorrow morning to address questions that arose from this activity and look at things more in depth.

Following our time with the 5th and 6th graders we met up with the university students to head to the irrigation gardens. Once we reached the gardens we had a brief discussion on the importance of soil sampling and recorded where we took samples with GPS receivers in order to return to take samples in the future. We then took a close look at row spacing, plant placement, and germination which led to spectacular discussions. While at the garden we had the opportunity to jump in and assist with transplanting of some leeks. 

Precision farming is alive and well in Haiti! They precisely place bagas (waste from sugar cane) beside each plant for perfect placement of the fertilizer. They, also, use measuring techniques to assure proper placement of each plant in the row. 

After lunch we had the opportunity to work with second graders learning English before we made our way to the university to test the soil samples that we took. We did basic tests for nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and pH. We will review these results later in the week with the students. 

Before dinner this evening we took some time to enjoy the company of our hosts with another competitive round of volleyball matches. Following dinner many students from the university came over for an evening of games and social time with our group. We look forward to the great things to come on Wednesday! Be sure to be checking our Facebook and Twitter pages for photos of our experience in Haiti. 

Monday, January 4, 2016

Market Madness

We started off our Monday with a trip to the local market. You could find everything from rice to super glue to hogs. Several of the group bought some souvenirs. The group tried to buy a goat, but the price jumped drastically when we were part of the purchasing group. We held off and are still in search of a goat to purchase for a local family. At the livestock auction at the market the following prices can be expected: cow = $1,000, horse = $300, donkey = $200, and hog = $250. At the conclusion of our time at the market we swung into the community bakery and enjoyed some delicious fresh baked bread. 

Following the market we had a short walk to Saul's irrigation gardens and the gardens being utilized by the UCCC students. We will return to these gardens tomorrow to do some planting and pull soil samples. We got to see a variety of crops being grown from citrus to egg plant to cabbage. There is a cement channel that runs through the gardens where they can then pump water up the hill and let it trickle back down the hillside. While at the gardens we were able to see the tilapia ponds that are being dug by hand to be utilized by UCCC. Below is a picture of the group at the irrigation gardens. 

After lunch we stopped over to the elementary to assist with teaching English to some first graders. It was a great experience for our group and the Haiti students were thoroughly entertained by our excellent dance moves. 

From there we traveled to one of eight feeding centers that UCI is in charge of. At this feeding center children can receive two meals per week. This is an essential nutrition savior for many children. As the food finished cooking we spent time tossing a frisbee around with the children. When the meal was ready each child pulled out a bowl and spoon from their backpack which they handed to us to be filled with a rice and beans mixture. Below is a picture of us filling bowls for the children. 

Next we returned to campus where we met with the dean of agriculture at UCCC planning out the remainder of our time in Haiti. This evening has, also, been filled with planning agriculture lessons to share with the elementary students. 

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Sunday Fun Day Haiti Style

Today was our first full day in Haiti. We started off this morning by attending a church service here on campus and seeing the traditions of the Haitian culture. On Sunday our cooks have the day off so Craig and Julie prepared a spectacular lunch for us.

After lunch we traveled to one of the eight feeding centers that UCI supports. Upon arrival we had the opportunity to distribute Christmas gifts to the children at the feeding center sent from sponsors all over the United States. These feeding centers provide much needed food and nutrition to youth in Haiti. JeanJean stated that they want the food at these centers to be grown in Haiti and be self sustaining if possible. Now much of the food is donated and imported in. Students at UCCC are working with the feeding center to start a garden and produce much of the food needed. This project is just in it's beginning stages and will be expanding. The picture below shows the start of the garden and the area it will expand to reaching the back tree line. 

Next we visited several irrigated fields/gardens. Currently we are experiencing the dry season in Haiti so if you want to see much success irrigation is needed. We first visited a garden growing black beans under the shade of papayas due to the heat. Papayas can be a fruit or vegetable. If harvested before they have ripened they are considered a vegetable and if harvested after they have ripened they are considered a fruit. Below you will find a picture of this garden. 

Following inspection of the papaya and black bean garden we made our way to a farmers field where he was growing black beans following corn. This farmer used to have to split his time between Haiti and the Dominican Republic in order to support his family, but since UCCC has stepped in and shared production practices he has improved production greatly! This has allowed him to stop traveling to the DR and spend the entire year in Haiti with his family farming. With the increased production the family is supported and they even have product left over to sell to others. He grows corn, black beans, plantains, millet, etc. While we were there we were able to witness millet being ground to be turned into mush for human consumption and explore his black beans that were growing with irrigation following his corn crop. He has to irrigate the beans about every eight days and the plantains about every 15 days. Below is a picture of JeanJean explaining this farmers practice. 

After our time in the fields we made our way back to campus and enjoyed a spectacular chicken BBQ. After dinner we gathered around the tree out front and got to hear a story from a former witch doctor who has since converted to Christianity. He shared the struggles he had faced in his previous life and the negative affects that voodoo had on his family, community, and country. 

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Level Z Roads

After a short night in the Miami airport we boarded our final flight to Port au Prince, Haiti. We arrived on schedule to Haiti, but long lines awaited us in immigration. After grabbing our luggage we loaded up the van and started the three hour trek north to the Caiman area. From Port au Prince to Caiman we travel on National Highway 3. This highway is paved 3/4 of the way to Caiman, but the last 1/4 is a little rough. As our host JeanJean states, "In Iowa you have level B roads. In Haiti we have level Z roads!"

Haiti countryside 

After arriving in Caiman we enjoyed lunch mid-afternoon before receiving a tour of campus from Kristie. She shared the incredible story of UCI and how it has grown from nothing to what it is today. Today they have nutrition centers, a preschool, a elementary, church, and the university (I am sure there is much more that I am missing). We were able to see many of the agriculture projects on campus from demonstration gardens in agroforestry, grafting of citrus trees, tree nursery, and the papaya garden. 

UCCC Campus

After our tour many enjoyed a friendly volleyball match with locals before enjoying a delicious dinner of chicken, rice, beans, red sauce, and plantains. As this is posted we are sitting under the tree outside our dorm visiting about the challenges and opportunities facing Haitian agriculture. We look forward to a great Sunday in Haiti tomorrow!

Friday, January 1, 2016

First Class Crew

We have a first class group of individuals heading to Haiti to kickoff the New Year! January 1st 8 of us made our way to the Eastern Iowa Airport to begin our trek to Haiti to work with UCCC (University near Caiman) developing agriculture projects. Over the next week we will work with students and faculty at UCCC in agronomy, animal science, alternative energy, and meshing agriculture and health. This is an ongoing partnership that is always developing and expanding. Upon arrival at the airport the airlines heard what our group was up to and upgraded us to first class seats!

Our travels have us with an overnight in Miami, before we make our way to Haiti in the morning. We will have two farmers from Iowa joining us later on Saturday night in Haiti for a week of learning and teaching. We will also have a delegation from Community Health Initiative (CHI), who has health projects in Haiti, join us later in the week to see where the Global Agriculture Leaning Center (GALC), UCCC, and CHI can collaborate. 

Check back daily for updates from Haiti. Be sure to look for pictures of our experience on Facebook and Twitter.