Today's top stories on global agricultural development and food security issues.
By Sung Lee
An alliance the world can count on, Opinion, Barack Obama and David Cameron, Washington Post, March 12
As two of the world’s wealthiest nations, we embrace our responsibility as leaders in the development that enables people to live in dignity, health and prosperity. Even as we redouble our efforts to save lives in Somalia, we’re investing in agriculture to promote food security across the developing world. We’re working to improve maternal health and end preventable deaths of children. With a renewed commitment to the lifesaving work of the Global Fund for AIDS, TB and Malaria, we see the beginning of the end of the AIDS pandemic. Through our Open Government Partnership, we’re striving to make governments more transparent and accountable.
Signal poor on m-learning's impact, Guardian, March 13
Cheap mobile phone access in developing countries has spread rapidly and so has the use of these communication networks for teaching and learning English. Whether it is at the launch of a new US-backed mobile learning service in Tunisia or a venture bringing business English to smartphones subscribers in India, there is a common message: this is a medium that can bridge educational and digital divides.
Record-high food prices boost farmers' bottom lines, NPR, March 13
Thanks to high commodity prices and surging productivity, U.S. farmers earned a net income of nearly $98 billion last year — a record, according to the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute. Those strong earnings are helping boost the demand for farmland. In the past year, even as most Americans struggled with falling home prices, farmers saw spikes in the price of land used for agriculture.
Monsanto plans tests of first USDA-approved Corn Genetically Engineered to deal with Drought, Washington Post, March 13
Seed giant Monsanto Co. plans large-scale tests this year of the first government-approved biotech crop developed to deal with drought. The new corn is being introduced as much of the U.S. remains abnormally dry and areas in the South and Southwest still face severe drought. Monsanto says the corn won’t be a panacea for drought-stricken farmers but when combined with improved agricultural practices could help those in areas like the western Great Plains, where production without irrigation can be half as much as the national average.
Better supplies to drive world food prices lower in 2012, Reuters, March 12
Average annual prices in 2011 were the highest level since the agency started measuring global food prices in 1990. Food and beverage companies will benefit from lower prices of agricultural commodities, such as grains and meat, after their profits were dented by high commodity costs last year. Abdolreza Abbassian, senior grain analyst and economist at the UN's FAO, said longer term food and agricultural commodities prices are set to remain at high historical levels and volatility would continue.