Today's top stories on global agricultural development and food security issues.
By Sung Lee
The FAO Food Price Index rose further in February, FAO, March 2011
The FAO Food Price Index (FFPI) averaged 215 points in February 2012, roughly 1 percent (2.4 points) more than the revised January figure. The increase in the February FFPI was mostly driven by higher prices of sugar, oils and cereals while dairy prices fell slightly after a marked rise in January.
Call for urgent action in Sahel to prevent humanitarian emergency, Guardian, March 9
The food crisis in the Sahel will turn into a humanitarian emergency unless urgent action is taken, said the NGO Oxfam as it launched a $36.3m emergency appeal for west Africa. Levels of malnutrition in areas of Chad, Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and northern Senegal are becoming dangerously high, hovering between a rate of 10% and 15%. Among the indicators used to determine famine conditions are when acute malnutrition rates exceed 30% and when recorded deaths are more than two per 10,000 people a day.
Agricultural biodiversity: Banking against Doomsday, The Economist, March 10
With a heavy clunk, the steel outer doors of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault closed on February 28th, shutting out a howling Arctic gale and entombing a tonne of new arrivals: 25,000 seed samples from America, Colombia, Costa Rica, Tajikistan, Armenia and Syria. For Cary Fowler, the vault’s American architect, the Syrian chickpeas and fava beans were especially welcome. Opened in 2008, the Svalbard vault is a backup for the world’s 1,750 seed banks, storehouses of agricultural biodiversity.
Developing genetically modified crops requires skill, luck and caution, Washington Post, March 5
Depending on whom you listen to, genetically modified crops are either ungodly Frankenfoods unfit for even a house pet or our only hope against famine in a post-climate-change world. Putting aside all the shouting, it’s interesting to examine how scientists modify plant genes. This is the story of how ordinary crops become transgenic crops. The first step in the process is finding a useful gene.
Video: Kenya girl documents life through a lens, CNN, March 8
CNN's David McKenzie spends time with a Kenyan girl that who reaching the world.