Category Archives: Agriculture

Food: Banana Plantations At Risk From Global Blight

Financial Times (December 14, 2022) – Dire warnings about the banana’s impending extinction have been circulating for some time, but despite that, as the FT’s Clive Cookson explains, global production has expanded in recent years. That growth, however, is at risk from an outbreak of Panama disease, which has spread to at least 22 countries.

Analysis: Is Traditional Agriculture Sustainable?

DW Documentary (December 10, 2022) – Is sustainable agriculture possible in Europe? From Spain’s “plastic sea” of greenhouses, to farmer suicides in France, the organics boom and high-tech production, it’s clear that Europe’s agricultural sector is in a period of extreme flux. And it needs to change: Agricultural landscapes are shaped by the history of our continent and inextricably bound up with its identity.

But farmers are struggling. They’re under constant pressure to produce more, at lower prices and can no longer hold out against the stiff competition. Most European farms are still family-run businesses, but it’s the large-scale enterprises that benefit from EU subsidies. These companies practice intensive farming, which we now know has a detrimental effect on biodiversity and human health.

This kind of agricultural system is also very bad for soil quality and is now seen as obsolete. With every crisis that occurs, its shortcomings become more evident. The pace of climate change now requires rapid responses to crucial questions: How to sustainably feed more than 500 million Europeans? What steps can be taken to stem the catastrophe resulting from the dramatic rise in meat consumption (up 60 per cent in 60 years) and its associated intensive production of cereal crops?

Solutions are presenting themselves, and many farmers have already seized the initiative. Throughout the European continent, they are the main drivers of a vital 21st century agricultural revolution: a return to traditional farming methods, intelligent or urban agriculture, fewer mass imports, research into in-vitro meat and meat substitutes. These are just some of the approaches being explored by European farmers in a bid to protect biodiversity, the landscape and the health of human beings.

Indoor Farms: AppHarvest – 90% Less Water With Tech

Business Insider – AppHarvest is exploring the future of indoor farming and agriculture technology by using up to 90% less water, human-assisting AI, and the power of the sun for reliable food growth. Alongside local education efforts, AppHarvest’s main focus is to provide US consumers with sustainable, reliable produce so that we can all enjoy a healthier, more vibrant planet in the future.

Food Science: Developing Hardier Coffee Beans (FT)

Financial Times – One of world’s favorite drinks is under threat from global warming. The world’s top coffee producing nations all lie at similar tropical latitudes, where even small rises in temperature are forecast to have severe consequences for people and agriculture. But as the FT’s Nic Fildes reports, in Australia, scientists are tackling the problem by trying to develop a better, hardier coffee bean.

Droughts: Fixing Water Waste On American Farms

The western U.S. is experience a megadrought so severe, it is the driest two decades in at least 1,200 years. And no sector has felt the impact more than agriculture, which takes up about 70% of the world’s freshwater. With water resources becoming more scarce, several companies are working to improve irrigation efficiency and help sustain food production in a future where extreme climate may be more common.

Chapters: Ch. 1: 2:08 The West’s drought Ch. 2 4:48 Water in agriculture Ch. 3 8:02 Smarter irrigation Ch. 4 11:08 Indoor farming Ch. 5 13:11 Future technologies

World Hunger: Is Biofuel Feeding A Food Crisis?

The UN’s World Food Programme has described 2022 as “a year of unprecedented hunger”, with millions of people in dozens of countries facing famine. At the same time, significant amounts of farmland are being used to produce so-called biofuels. But could a global food crisis change that?

Biofuels are liquid fuels produced from renewable biological sources, including plants and algae. Biofuels offer a solution to one of the challenges of solar, wind, and other alternative energy sources. These energy sources have incredible potential to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and yield environmental and economic benefits. But many of these sources have a limitation: they can’t replace liquid fuels such as jet fuel, gasoline, and diesel fuel that are critical to our transportation needs. That’s where biofuels could help.

Harvests: Peppers Turn A Serbian Village ‘Crimson’

Donja Lokosnica is an unassuming agricultural village in Serbia. That is until it’s time for the annual pepper harvest, where around 250 out of 280 households in the village engage in growing the crimson crop. The sweet peppers are the lifeblood of the small village that produces 60,000 tons of peppers a year.

To learn more about how the Serbian farmers turn the quaint village a rich red, tune in brand new episodes of Europe From Above. Thursdays at 8pm, on National Geographic UK

Climate Change: A World Of Future Food Shocks?

Recent crises such as the pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have thrown the vulnerability of supply chains, and with them, food supplies, into sharp focus. But as the FT’s Camilla Hodgson reports, a landmark UN report says climate-related shocks such as extreme weather events will become more common and severe and could further upend food supply chains. But what can we do about it?

Africa Views: The Cassava Flour Boom In Cameroon

As the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues to impact crucial food exports, wheat prices are soaring. Many African countries rely on Ukrainian and Russian grain exports and could face a severe food crisis. But in Cameroon, entrepreneurs are coming up with alternatives to wheat, which is used to make flour. Production of bread and cakes made from local cassava and sweet potato flour is now booming. These tubers are abundant in the country but are normally used unprocessed in traditional dishes. Our correspondents report.

Africa Views: Ivory Coast Agriculture Goes Digital

Climate change, land degradation and deforestation have severely damaged Côte d’Ivoire’s natural surroundings. Many farmers are worried about their future. But Digitalization is bringing new hope.

Côte d’Ivoire is a West African country with beach resorts, rainforests and a French-colonial legacy. Abidjan, on the Atlantic coast, is the country’s major urban center. Its modern landmarks include zigguratlike, concrete La Pyramide and St. Paul’s Cathedral, a swooping structure tethered to a massive cross. North of the central business district, Banco National Park is a rainforest preserve with hiking trails.