Collaboration is key to achieving the long-term benefits of data sharing


ecosystem mapMany conversations about open data for agriculture and nutrition promote the win-win scenario of improved livelihoods for farmers, as well as more nutritious, environmentally conscious food. However, examples of open data benefiting farmers often only span one growing season, or include small groups of farmers. This begs the question, does open data truly have the capacity to trigger transformative change in agriculture?

Data exists on a spectrum, which ranges from closed, to shared, to open. Shared data can only legally be shared with certain individuals or groups, due to data ethics recommendations. Just as the food system is comprised of several actors, such as input providers, farmers, retailers and policymakers, who make decisions that affect both others and themselves, the data ecosystem comprises of data collectors, data re-users, data subjects and others. Most actors in the food system fulfil multiple roles within the data ecosystem. For example, a…

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One-size-fits-all ‘livestock less’ measures will not serve some one billion smallholder livestock farmers and herders

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Smallholder dairying in Kenya (photo credit: Accelerated Value Chain Development/Sophie Mbugua).

‘Once again, the debate on sustainable diets and in particular on (not) eating animal-derived products is resurfacing in the media, as illustrated most recently by an article in The Guardian. The paper reported on a study by J. Poore and T. Nemecek entitled ‘Reducing food’s environmental impacts through producers and consumers’, published in the latest edition of Science magazine. The article concludes that ‘avoiding meat and dairy products is the single biggest way to reduce your environmental impact on the planet’. Both the study and the article recognize the ‘large variability in environmental impact from different farms’ and the need to deal with the most harmful ones. Still, they seem to overlook the evidence from the 1.3 billion smallholder farmers and livestock keepers for whom livestock is an important source of income and food security.

Family goat keeping in…

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Women are the (invisible) guardians of livestock diversity–New FAO study

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Ethiopia woman churning butter

Ethiopian woman churning butter the traditional way (photo credit: ILRI/Apollo Habtamu).

A new study by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations argues that to succeed, livestock breed conservation efforts must empower women.

‘Women livestock keepers worldwide must be recognized as the major actors in efforts to arrest the decline of indigenous breeds, crucial for rural food security and animal genetics, [the] new FAO study argues.

‘Yet women’s contribution to indigenous livestock breeding and conservation is poorly documented and undervalued, the study Invisible Guardians: Women Manage Livestock Diversity says.

‘Of the 600 million poor livestock keepers in the world, around two-thirds are women, whose men often have migrated to the cities. Women stay at home with the children and live by cultivating crops and keeping indigenous small stock such as chickens or goats, and perhaps a cow.

‘Indigenous breeds are adapted to often harsh local conditions, are disease…

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Why cows are getting a bad rap in lab-grown meat debate

“Cattle produce more than just hamburgers for well-off consumers, and they typically do so by utilizing rain-fed forage growing on non-arable land.” – Susan MacMillan

ILRI Clippings

A small-scale production line of the leghemoglobin for a plant-based hamburger is displayed during a media tour of Impossible Foods labs and processing plant in Redwood City, California, US 6 Oct 2016 (photo credit: /Beck Diefenbach—S1BEUGSRCGAA).

By Alison Van Eenennaam, University of California, Davis

A battle royal is brewing over what to call animal cells grown in cell culture for food. Should it be in-vitro meat, cellular meat, cultured meat or fermented meat? What about animal-free meat, slaughter-free meat, artificial meat, synthetic meat, zombie meat, lab-grown meat, non-meat or artificial muscle proteins?

Then there is the polarizing ‘fake’ versus ‘clean’ meat framing that boils this complex topic down to a simple good versus bad dichotomy. The opposite of fake is of course the ambiguous but desirous ‘natural’. And modeled after ‘clean’ energy, ‘clean’ meat is by inference superior to its alternative, which must logically be ‘dirty’ meat.

The narrative…

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New World Bank report says food-borne illnesses cost US$ 110 billion per year in low- and middle-income countries


Rinsing fresh fish, Accra, Ghana Rinsing fresh fish in Accra, Ghana (photo credit: ILRI/Kennedy Bomfeh).

A new World Bank study finds that the impact of unsafe food costs low- and middle-income economies about US$ 110 billion in lost productivity and medical expenses each year. Yet a large proportion of these costs could be avoided by adopting preventative measures that improve how food is handled from farm to fork. Better managing the safety of food would also significantly contribute to achieving multiple Sustainable Development Goals, especially those relating to poverty, hunger and well-being.

Foodborne diseases caused an estimated 600 million illnesses and 420,000 premature deaths in 2010 according to the World Health Organization. This global burden of foodborne disease is unequally distributed. Relative to their population, low- and middle-income countries in South Asia, Southeast Asia and sub-Saharan Africa bear a proportionately high burden. They account for 41% of the global population yet 53% of all foodborne…

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On World Food Day, Take a Holistic Approach to Food Production



October 16 is World Food Day. It can be a day of action, dedicated to tackling hunger and ensuring food security and nutrient-dense diets for everyone. Food should nourish and nurture people, society, and the planet, but in so many ways, the food system is broken.

“Not only have habits changed, but also foods. When was the last time you consumed a potato with the flavor, color, and smell of potatoes? We are not just losing food, we are losing food quality,” says agricultural engineer Dr. Walter Pengue.

Across the world, decreasing soil quality is stripping food of its nutrients: 33 percent of the Earth’s land surface is moderately to highly affected by some type of soil degradation. Food has also become the main driver of human health costs—while almost one-third of all people are undernourished and 815 million people still go to bed hungry, close to 30 percent of all…

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Book Launch – Flourishing Foodscapes: Designing City Region Food Systems

Rural Sociology Wageningen University

On Thursday 27 September 2018 Valiz and the Amsterdam Academy of Architecture will host a programme dedicated to the launch of the book entitled ‘Flourishing Foodscapes – Designing City Region Food Systems’.

About Flourishing Foodscapes

Flourishing Foodscapes is a book about the the social and spatial organization of networks and systems of food provisioning. It explores, highlights and discusses strategies and designs for creating future-proof city region food systems by addressing the social, economic, and ecological vulnerabilities and sustainabilities of current and future foodscapes, as well as how the spatial qualities of the rural and urban landscape and its use need to adapt and change. A key argument in the book is that food not only has to do with nutrition, but that it links up with and influences a multitude of domains; from health to (eating) culture and from employment to climate change. It has a major impact on the city…

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