Marginalised issues in food security: Oxford Food Security Forum 2014

Women making tortillas in Guatemala  ©  David Amsler
Women making tortillas in Guatemala © David Amsler

A blog by Léna Durocher-Granger and Rachel Hill

On 4th May we attended the Oxford Food Security Forum’s Annual Conference. The conference aimed to address some of the topics in food security research that have become excluded or marginalised.

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Plantwise Photo Of The Month- May

Antonio Limbau, Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Mozambique, speaking at the G8 Open Data for Agriculture Conference
Antonio Limbau, Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Mozambique, speaking at the G8 Open Data for Agriculture Conference (CABI Image)

This photo shows Antonio Limbau, the Deputy Minister for Agriculture of Mozambique speaking on the implications of agricultural open data for developing countries at the G8 Open Data for Agriculture conference on Monday in Washington, D.C. 

Governments in developed countries are working hard to make agriculture data open for others and accessible to farmers.  The talk focused on the implications of open data,  potentially a significant resource for developing countries working to help poor farmers increase their productivity. As well as Antonio Limbau, other speakers included Hirano Katsumi from the Area Studies Center, Japan, Stanley Wood from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Sean Krepp from the Grameen AppLab, Uganda. 

To read more about this conference visit the website and have a look at some of our other blog posts on the event


Agricultural Super Ducks

Agricultural super ducks? You may think that the entire phrase is flawed. Ducks waddle around in parks, not on farms. You probably have never thought of them as being particularly ‘super’ as they paddle around the park pond, searching for scraps of bread. However, you’d be mistaken, as I was, for the humble duck is now emerging as a new tool in the farmer’s arsenal for improving food security. Brace yourself for the rise of the agricultural super duck.

Recently, we have witnessed a rise in the use of ducks in Asian agricultural systems. They have their own book dedicated to their amazing agricultural abilities in Japan and are already employed in some of Bangladesh’s rice paddies. These agricultural superstars provide an effective pest management solution and have even been found to reduce both production costs and greenhouse gas emissions.

A Farmer's New Best Friend? Source: Flickr, Nick Fedele

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Speedy crop breeding to help Japanese rice growers

New salt-tolerant varieties of rice will help Japanese farmers in tsunami-affected areas © Molly Des Jardins, Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 license

The devastating tsunami that hit northeastern parts of Japan last March left thousands of acres of farmland damaged by saltwater. Much of this agricultural land was paddy fields, which were left with up to 25 cm of sand and mud deposited and highly saline conditions resulting from evaporation of the seawater.

Scientists from the Sainsbury Laboratory in Norwich, UK, in collaboration with Iwate Biotechnology Research Centre in Japan, are screening rice varieties to find those that can grow in salty conditions. They are doing this using their new MutMap method, which provides a much quicker way of finding new crop varieties than traditional breeding methods. Continue reading