Today's top stories on global agricultural development and food security issues.
By Sung Lee
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will testify today before the Senate Appropriations Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the President Obama's FY13 Budget Request for the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development. The Senate Agriculture Committee will also hold its second Farm Bill hearing on "Strengthening Conservation Through the 2012 Farm Bill."
Scientists: Cassava Will Thrive in Climate Change, MSNBC, February 27
Calling cassava "the Rambo of food crops," scientists said the long-neglected root becomes even more productive in hotter temperatures and could be the best bet for African farmers threatened by climate change. Cassava is the second most important source of carbohydrate in sub-Saharan African, after maize, and is eaten by around 500 million people every day, scientists said. The root outperformed potatoes, maize, beans, bananas, millet and sorghum in tests using a combination of 24 climate prediction and crop suitability models.
U.S. Considers ‘Women’s Empowerment’ in Aid Choices, Agency Says, Alan Bjerga, Bloomberg, February 27
An index on women’s empowerment in agriculture will help to evaluate the performance of aid initiatives and shape how future programs are designed, according to the U.S. Agency for International Development. The Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index will track their involvement in farming decisions and income, as well as leadership in their communities, the agency said today. By understanding women’s roles in farming, aid programs can be more effectively designed and administered, said Tjada McKenna, coordinator of the U.S. agency’s Feed the Future program.
China Says Talks With North Korea Covered Food Aid, New York Times, February 27
China said it held talks with North Korea last week about providing food aid to the chronically hungry North, and urged other countries to help while Pyongyang weighs returning to six-party nuclear disarmament negotiations. Beijing rarely acknowledges talks about aid with Pyongyang, although its economic, energy and political aid has become increasingly important to North Korea as its ties with South Korea and other allies of the US have soured.
Zimbabwe to Maintain Ban on GMO crops, Xinhua, February 26
The top Zimbabwean agricultural official said the government will maintain its ban on imports of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and will not allow GMO crop seeds into the country. Agriculture Mechanization and Irrigation Development Minister Joseph Made said imported GMO seeds pose a risk to national food security, while local scientists can develop seeds that are suitable for the country's soil and not harmful to the health of the people.
A World Bank for a New World, Opinion, Jeffrey D. Sachs, Project Syndicate, February 24
The World Bank, if properly led, can play a key role in averting these threats and the risks that they imply. The global stakes are thus very high this spring as the Bank’s 187 member countries choose a new president to succeed Robert Zoellick. The Bank’s new president should have first-hand professional experience regarding the range of pressing development challenges. The world should not accept the status quo.