Frontiers in Food Policy: Perspectives on sub-Saharan Africa is a compilation of research stemming from the Global Food Policy and Food Security Symposium Series, hosted by the Center on Food Security and the Environment at Stanford University and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The series, and this volume, have brought the world's leading policy experts in the fields of food and agricultural development together for a comprehensive dialogue on pro-poor growth and food security policy.
China dominates the global aquaculture industry, most clearly with its massive production and consumption of low trophic-level carp species and its rapidly rising output and exports of tilapia. Although these fish do not require a high percentage of fishmeal in their diets, their large production volumes contribute to China's leading role in global fishmeal consumption. The magnitude of China's dependence on fishmeal supplies – and hence the pressure it places on wild forage fisheries – remains a contentious issue.
Abstract: Are violent conflict and socio-political stability associated with changes in climatological variables? We examine 50 rigorous quantitative studies on this question and find consistent support for a causal association between climatological changes and various conflict outcomes, at spatial scales ranging from individual buildings to the entire globe and at temporal scales ranging from an anomalous hour to an anomalous millennium.
Abstract: A rapidly growing body of research examines whether human conflict can be affected by climatic changes. Drawing from archaeology, criminology, economics, geography, history, political science, and psychology, we assemble and analyze the 60 most rigorous quantitative studies and document, for the first time, a striking convergence of results. We find strong causal evidence linking climatic events to human conflict across a range of spatial and temporal scales and across all major regions of the world.
Anthropogenic climate change has triggered impacts on natural and human systems world-wide, yet the formal scientific method of detection and attribution has been only insufficiently described. Detection and attribution of impacts of climate change is a fundamentally cross-disciplinary issue, involving concepts, terms, and standards spanning the varied requirements of the various disciplines.
Distributed irrigation systems are those in which the water access (via pump or human power), distribution (via furrow, watering can, sprinkler, drip lines, etc.), and use all occur at or near the same location. Distributed systems are typically privately owned and managed by individuals or groups, in contrast to centralized irrigation systems, which tend to be publicly operated and involve large water extractions and distribution over significant distances for use by scores of farmers.
Previous estimates of the land area available for future cropland expansion relied on global-scale climate, soil and terrain data. They did not include a range of constraints and tradeoffs associated with land conversion. As a result, estimates of the global land reserve have been high. Here we adjust these estimates for the aforementioned constraints and tradeoffs.
The water and agriculture glass in Africa is half-empty: Africa has failed to develop its massive water resources and failed to achieve agricultural growth. But the glass is half full, too, as Africa is making a start in building its needed infrastructure and in attracting managerial and knowledge assistance which can help start the needed transformation.
The lost decades for China in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s look remarkably like the lost decades of Africa in the 1980s and 1990s. Poor land rights, weak incentives, incomplete markets and inappropriate investment portfolios. However, China burst out of its stagnation in the 1980s and has enjoyed three decades of remarkable growth. In this paper we examine the record of the development of China’s food economy and identify the policies that helped generate the growth and transformation of agriculture.
Latin America (LA) has many social indicators similar to those of highly developed economies but most frequently falls midway between least developed countries and industrialized regions. To move forward, LA must address uncontrolled urbanization, agricultural production, social inequity, and destruction of natural resources. We discuss these interrelated challenges in terms of human impact on the nitrogen (N) cycle. Human activity has caused unprecedented changes to the global N cycle; in the past century; total global fixation of reactive N (Nr) has at least doubled.
Although weather data are widely acknowledged to contain measurement errors, the implications of these errors for models that relate weather to yields have not been adequately examined. From statistical theory and applications in many other fields, it is clear that measurement error in a single predictor variable can lead to bias in estimating the effects of that variable, as well as any other correlated predictors.
Statistical studies of rainfed maize yields in the United States and elsewhere have indicated two clear features: a strong negative yield response to accumulation of temperatures above 30 °C (or extreme degree days (EDD)), and a relatively weak response to seasonal rainfall. Here we show that the process-based Agricultural Production Systems Simulator (APSIM) is able to reproduce both of these relationships in the Midwestern United States and provide insight into underlying mechanisms.
Sugarcane area is currently expanding in Brazil, largely in response to domestic and international demand for sugar-based ethanol. To investigate the potential hydroclimatic impacts of future expansion, a regional climate model is used to simulate 5 years of a scenario in which cerrado and cropland areas (~1.1E6 km2) within south-central Brazil are converted to sugarcane. Results indicate a cooling of up to ~1.0°C during the peak of the growing season, mainly as a result of increased albedo of sugarcane relative to the previous landscape.
Field experiments and simulation models are useful tools for understanding crop yield gaps, but scaling up these approaches to understand entire regions over time has remained a considerable challenge. Satellite data have repeatedly been shown to provide information that, by themselves or in combination with other data and models, can accurately measure crop yields in farmers’ fields. The resulting yield maps provide a unique opportunity to overcome both spatial and temporal scaling challenges and thus improve understanding of crop yield gaps.
Successful adaptation of agriculture to ongoing climate changes would help to maintain productivity growth and thereby reduce pressure to bring new lands into agriculture. In this paper we investigate the potential co-benefits of adaptation in terms of the avoided emissions from land use change. A model of global agricultural trade and land use, called SIMPLE, is utilized to link adaptation investments, yield growth rates, land conversion rates, and land use emissions.
Rapid population growth, urbanization and rising incomes will present an unprecedented opportunity for growth of commercial agriculture and agribusiness in coming years. The value of food consumed in urban areas is set to expand by four times to 2030, but given evidence of a continuing decline in competitiveness much of this could be sourced from imports even in countries with an apparent comparative advantage in agriculture.
For decades, earnings from farming in many developing countries, including in Sub-Saharan Africa, have been depressed by a pro-urban and anti-trade bias in own-country policies, as well as by governments of richer countries favoring their farmers with import barriers and subsidies. Both sets of policies reduced global economic welfare and agricultural trade, and almost certainly added to global inequality and poverty and to food insecurity in many low-income countries.