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Extension Announced for Global Food System Project

Extension Announced for Global Food System Project

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The Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition Earth Solutions competition is still open until August 1

The Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition Young Earth Solutions (BCFN YES!) competition has extended its deadline to August 1, 2013 — which means you have 15 days left to enter and make a positive contribution to the global food system. In collaboration with the U.N. Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the European Commission, the competition “is bringing young people together to develop sustainable solutions to nourish both people and the planet.”

Last year, Federica Marra won the 2012 contest for her project entitled “Manna From Our Roofs.” The project proposed utilizing abandoned city buildings to create multi-layered urban farms.

BCFN YES! invites college students and up-and-coming researchers from across the globe “to propose feasible, original, and effective solutions to resolve our planet’s great food paradoxes.” Notably, the organization cites current food system paradoxes as: “Die of hunger or obesity? Feed people, animals, or cars? Feed waste or feed the hungry?”

Click here to see the rules for the 2013 competition. The 10 finalist projects will be presented at the 5th International Forum on Food and Nutrition in Milan on November 26-27, 2013. The winning project will receive 1,000 euros, as well as the chance to participate in a BCFN 2014 research project.

Improving Food and Nutrition Security in Ghana from a Food Systems Approach

On January 17, 2019 the Food & Business Knowledge Platform (F&BKP), WOTRO, the Science for Global Development department of NWO (The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands organized a research – practice exchange seminar in Accra, Ghana which focused on Food Systems Approaches (FSAs). The meeting was attended by some 30 project members of the NWO-WOTRO Global Challenges Programme (GCP) Call 3 international multi-stakeholder research projects that were in Ghana for their midterm review. They were joined by some 40 Ghanaian Food & Business stakeholders working in the field of agri-business including research professionals, private and public sector representatives, professionals from local and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and donors.

The knowledge exchange was organized to improve joint strategies for Food and Nutrition Security in Ghana from a Food Systems Approach for inclusive agri-business. It was mainly driven by research findings from the international multi-stakeholder research groups of GCP Call 3. Additionally, it gave the GCP researchers the opportunity to gain insight in Ghanaian practices in order to sharpen the second half of their research project work on food systems in the coming two years.

Three key challenges facing agriculture and how to start solving them

Every day, the food we eat connects us to a vast global web of farmers, traders, food manufacturers, retailers and many other people involved in getting food from farm to fork. Most of us probably don&rsquot pause to think about it while biting into a piece of fruit or a slice of bread, but this global food system is central to some of the biggest challenges facing humanity.

Current challenges facing the global food system

Let&rsquos start with the most obvious one. The global food system is expected to provide safe and nutritious food to a population that will likely grow from 7.5 billion people today, to nearly 10 billion by 2050. Not only will there be more mouths to feed, but as incomes grow in emerging and developing economies, so too will the demand for meat, fish, and dairy.

However, food production is only one aspect of the food system. The agro-food sector also provides a livelihood for millions of people. Globally, most of the people living in extreme poverty are in rural areas where food production is often the most important economic activity. There are an estimated 570 million farms worldwide today, and millions of other people work in food-related jobs.

The global food system also has a large environmental footprint. In fact, agriculture occupies nearly 40% of the earth&rsquos surface, far more than any other human activity. In addition, irrigation of agricultural crops comprises 70% of global water use, and agriculture directly contributes to around 11% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (mostly through cattle). Expanding agricultural land can also lead to deforestation, additional GHG emissions, and a loss of biodiversity.

Setting the table to address the triple challenge

These three challenges &ndash feeding a growing population, providing a livelihood for farmers, and protecting the environment &ndash must be tackled together if we are to make sustainable progress in any of them. But making progress on this &ldquotriple challenge&rdquo is difficult, as initiatives in one domain can have unintended consequences in another.

Sometimes, the consequences are positive. For instance, raising farm productivity can generate income growth in agriculture, make more food available for consumers at lower prices, and &ndash in some cases &ndash reduce pressure on the environment. But sometimes the consequences are negative and require balancing trade-offs. For example, policies to increase the environmental sustainability of agriculture could impose increased costs on farmers and lead to higher prices for consumers.

In other words, policies that address one part of the triple challenge often end up creating synergies (positive effects) or trade-offs (negative effects) with respect to other objectives&mdashand a single-issue perspective on any objective can lead to unintended impacts on other objectives. Competing objectives and complex interactions, along with multiple stakeholders with a range of concerns, should make us cautious when specific ideas are proposed as &ldquosilver bullets&rdquo to fix the food system.

So what can policy makers do to address these important challenges, taking into account their interconnectedness? How should they find out if and when there is a conflict between two or more objectives? How should they deal with stakeholders who may resist an initiative they fear could harm their interests? And how should they co-ordinate with policy makers in other agencies or ministries, and with counterparts in other countries?

To begin the process of answering these difficult questions, the OECD organised a Global Forum on Agriculture in May 2019 to exchange ideas about the most important challenges facing the global food system today (the triple challenge), and the obstacles that stand in the way of overcoming them. Importantly, the conversation included views from a range of stakeholders affected by agro-food policy decisions &ndash including farmers, traders, food manufacturers, consumer representatives, agricultural input suppliers, researchers, environmental NGOs, and policy makers. The OECD will build on this discussion to assess the main obstacles to achieving better policies for the global food system, and to identify good practices to help overcome them.

Future policies may require new recipes

Just like a good meal is a balanced meal, good policies will need to strike a balance between the different objectives of the triple challenge facing the global food system today. And just like a good meal depends not only on the chef, but also on the quality of the ingredients &ndash so too will good policies depend not only on the policy maker, but also on the input from many stakeholders. Given the scale and complexity of these challenges, policy makers may need to experiment with new recipes to cook up a set of policy solutions that are to everyone&rsquos taste.

Food Systems

A food system includes all the aspects of feeding and nourishing people: growing, harvesting, packaging, processing, transporting, marketing and consuming food. It encompasses all the interactions between people and the natural world – land, water, the climate, etc. – and the natural world’s effects on human health and nutrition. It also includes the inputs, institutions, infrastructure and services that support the functioning of all these aspects, as well as the role of diets and cultural practices in shaping outcomes.

A food system is sustainable when it provides sufficient nutritious food for all without compromising the health of the planet or the ability of future generations to meet their own food and nutritional needs.

Why do food systems need to change?

Even before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, food systems faced enormous challenges. Hunger had been on the rise for several years, affecting 690 million people as of 2019, while healthy diets were unaffordable for at least 3 billion. Meanwhile, climate change was already affecting production, and the need to address concerns related to greenhouse gas emissions and environmental footprint was growing ever more urgent. And the role of food systems in the emergence of new infectious diseases – as a result of both the loss of biodiversity due to unsustainable practices and the damage to ecosystems that it caused – had already been acknowledged.

Now, because of the effects the pandemic has already had on our food systems – and because of the potential additional effects still to come – we face the prospect of an additional 83–132 million people dealing with hunger by the end of 2020.

Furthermore, only 10 years remain until 2030 – the deadline for achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – and many of the goals remain far out of reach. In many cases, unsafe or unsustainable food systems are part of the problem. For this reason, we need a transformation of our food systems.

What needs to happen to change our food systems?

Transforming our food systems would encompass fundamental changes and enhancements in the institutions, infrastructure, regulations and markets that shape them, and the resources invested into them, in a way that makes them more equitable and sustainable – from the perspectives of both the workers who derive their livelihoods from these systems and the consumers who purchase the food. This would allow food producers (and other workers within food systems) to sustainably provide nutritious food for all and to be adequately rewarded for their work, so that they do not themselves become vulnerable to hunger.

UN Food Systems Summit

In 2021, UN Secretary-General António Guterres will convene a Food Systems Summit as part of the Decade of Action to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.

There are five “action tracks” intended to highlight essential pathways for the transformation of food systems to support the SDGs. IFAD has been designated the UN Anchor Agency for Action Track 4, Advancing equitable livelihoods and value distribution.

Meet the Top Visionaries

The Rockefeller Foundation is thrilled to announce the Top 10 Finalists for the Food System Vision Prize. These Finalists were selected from a pool of more than 1,300 applicants from 119 110 countries, all seeking to develop a Vision of the regenerative and nourishing food system that they aspire to create by the year 2050.

The Top 10 Finalists, whose Visions focus on Canada, China, India, Kenya, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Peru, and the U.S., were selected based on their potential to inspire real, positive and bold transformation of a specific food system that is actionable, concrete and believed to be attainable by 2050. These Visions aim to tackle challenges tied to six themes (environment, diets, economics, culture, technology, and policy), while showing the systemic inter-dependencies between these themes.

In September, the Finalists will advance to a three-month virtual Accelerator during which they will receive support to further refine their Visions and find pathways for implementation and impact. The Accelerator will focus on stakeholder engagement, storytelling, communications, and action planning, and will include opportunities for mentorship from key leaders in the global food space.

The Food System Vision Prize was launched by The Rockefeller Foundation, in partnership with SecondMuse and OpenIDEO, nearly a year ago as an invitation for organizations, institutions, companies, universities and governments across the globe to develop actionable solutions for the food systems of tomorrow.

Each Finalist is eligible to become a Top Visionary and to receive a prize of $200,000 USD. Top Visionaries will be announced in December 2020.

The Next Economy How to Redesign Our Food System for Resilience

At the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s recent Big Food Workshop, a variety of experts from throughout the food space spoke on the need to radically redesign for circularity and regionalism, to help us heal our broken global food system.

Our global food system is very much based on an extractive industry, yet around one-third of the commodities it produces for human consumption each year goes to waste.

Thinking of food in this way — more as an asset that can be better utilized and distributed to fight global hunger and malnutrition — can help to sharpen thinking and generate momentum when it comes to tackling existing inefficiencies and failings within the system, which was the focus of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s (EMF) recent Big Food Workshop.

Carolyn Steel, architect and author of Hungry City and Sitopia, said she had a lightbulb moment in April 2000 when she wondered, ‘what would it be like to describe a city through food?’ — in essence, what does it take to feed a city? She since invented a word to describe the many ways food affects our lives in ways we do and don’t see — “sitopia” — which is the basis for her most recent book.

Both Plato and Aristotle talked about the need for cities to remain small — because, the larger they get, the farther they get from the surrounding areas that supply them with food and other resources. In Sitopia, she discusses the idea of “oikonomia” (which roughly translates to “household management”), in which the original idea of cities was for each house in a city to have a corresponding farm outside the city with which it sustained itself — so cities, in theory, could be self-sustaining. We’ve obviously strayed far afield from that idea in practice. On the contrary, Steel noted that our global economy is now largely driven by a concept Aristotle that railed against, chrematistics, which is the pursuit of wealth for its own sake — so, it’s no wonder, really, why our city/countryside ratio is now so off-balance.

Steel also pointed out that our food system’s problems were essentially created by our worldwide obsession with cheap food.

“Food is the most valuable thing in our lives — food really is life. So, the fact that we’ve predicated our economics, and indeed our politics, on the existence of cheap food – which cannot and does not exist, though we’ve created the illusion of it by externalizing food costs — is, in my view, the problem. What I call ‘sitopian’ economics is the idea that we re-embed the value in food, and base our new economy around it.”

Steel asserted that we need to design cities and country in order to maximize the balance between the two. People having access to both is critical – there are huge benefits to both urban and rural economies, and huge potential to rethink both – and we need to recalibrate a balance.

Harriet Friedmann, Professor Emeritus at the University of Toronto and a longstanding member of the Toronto Food Policy Council, traces the “problem” back to colonial times when the British, French and Dutch descended on many foreign lands, decimated the indigenous populations, and began planting non-native crops such as sugar — oversimplifying once-complex ecosystems in favor of monoculture, and beginning a now centuries-long reliance of long, distant food supply chains. At the same time, rural areas surrounding cities back then were somewhat marginalized, as they began to move away from their essential role in feeding the cities. The same can be seen today in the rural areas around Toronto, for example — once rich for growing a wide variety of food crops, they have been reconditioned to grow just a few monoculture crops such as carrots and onions, for export. Friedmann says they’ve begun work to reconnect the city and countryside in that region, but a lot of work remains — to say nothing of the issue of urban sprawl, which literally paves over rural agricultural areas.

On the subject of how best to redesign these after the pandemic, Steel stressed the need for a shift back to locality, to finding belonging in a particular place that feeds us. She cites a growing group of examples of new connections between local producers and consumers — these need to be part of a new vision of a Good Life, rather than rampant consumerism.

Re-localizing our supply chains is one way that we can handle another global issue, food waste. Thomas McQuillan — VP of corporate strategy, culture & sustainability at US-based Baldor Specialty Foods — aptly summed it up during a session on some of the latest thinking on circular food systems and how they can be mobilized at scale:

“How many assets under our management do we treat as poorly as food? The very product we spend so much money on discarding … we need to start preserving.”

One key question EMF’s work raises is: How will tomorrow’s food be grown if it is to underpin more restorative systems, while improving the health and wellbeing of society as a whole?

Patrick Holden, founder and CEO of the UK-based Sustainable Food Trust (SFT), also talked of the need to re-localize food systems across the supply chain, from production through processing to distribution. He said farms also need to be restored to health, starting at a cellular level, based on regenerative agricultural practices, and argued that diets should be more aligned to locally and regionally grown food.

“We need to eat differently we need to cut down on waste,” he asserted. “If we eat seasonally, we can nourish ourselves and be healthier in a circular food system.”

Holden also highlighted the importance of sustainability metrics. He said a common, global system was needed to enable farmers to measure and assess their fields and factories and called for greater transparency of such data, so that it could be reflected on food labels — enabling consumers to make more informed purchasing decisions.

The SFT is already involved in work with farmers and land managers to develop an internationally recognized framework for measuring on-farm sustainability — a project regarded by Holden as “probably the most important work we are doing.”

He added that such metrics also needed to be multi-dimensional to take into account wider factors such as the relationship between farmers and consumers: “We need to be able to measure not just indicators like soil health but social, human and cultural impacts, too.”

Once this food is grown, how we eat and experience it in a circular economy will become of increasing importance, especially as more people migrate to cities over the coming years. The role that chefs play, particularly in menu design, will be highly significant — given that their ingredient choices and preparation methods can have enormous positive impacts on the environment and society.

Dan Barber — chef and co-owner of Blue Hill farm and its two namesake restaurants in New York — spoke of how, at an early age, he realized “the power of food to heal” and decided to become immersed in all things culinary in order to harness that power.

Barber’s approach focuses on supporting what he calls “the wholeness of farms.” He creates menus based on crop diversity, enabling him to source more of what is grown on the land by the farmers he works with. So, instead of just buying wheat from a farm, he takes a broader view of what else is grown in the fields — such as rye and barley — and looks to purchase those crops, too.

This reflects well on locality and food provenance, trends which he says are very much in demand.

“A progressive restaurant is defined by how regional and seasonal the menu is. People are now looking for chefs who are hypersensitive to the region.”

This thinking can be taken one step further to preserve the rich heritage of native foods, according to Mokgadi Itsweng, chef and creative director of Lotsha Home Foods — a family-owned African brand based in Johannesburg.

One of Itsweng’s passions lies in reintroducing indigenous foods to people’s plates by incorporating crops such as pearl millet, sorghum and cowpea into her recipes and giving them a modern-day twist.

“In South Africa, a lot of people have moved away from rural areas to cities, and the indigenous food knowledge gets destroyed as people start eating more fast food. Many people living in cities are now also suffering from malnutrition and diabetes,” she said.

The indigenous foods that Itsweng works with contain huge health benefits, having formed part of people’s staple diets for generations but this nutritional value is often overlooked as in South Africa, as these ingredients tend to be associated with poverty. Itsweng says part of her mission is to make these foods desirable, especially for younger generations.

“My advice for young chefs in South Africa is to learn about what is indigenous in your space. A great place to start is to speak to your grandmother. Our grandmothers have such a wealth of knowledge when it comes to cooking with these indigenous foods.”

How we grow, make and eat food has never been so important. EMF estimates that by 2050, 80 percent of the world’s food will be eaten in cities yet these urban environments are increasingly giving rise to food inequalities, a trend compounded by COVID-19.

On the upside, several speakers felt the pandemic has given greater visibility to the issues that needed to be addressed and provided some useful signals of how our food systems might need to be redesigned going forward, to build more circularity and resilience into them.

PepsiCo, Danone and Kellogg's share ingredients for global food system transformation

The companies we think of as food titans are actually agricultural giants, and they are starting to process what their businesses might look like in sustainable future.//Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

We will need help from the biggest food companies in the world to transform the food system into one that is sustainable while also feeding the almost 9 billion people on the planet.

They are the ones with connections to thousands of farmers, millions of acres of crops and hundreds of thousands of livestock. They are the ones with the brand names that are starting to feel pressure from consumers to address sustainable production. And they are the ones with hundreds of thousands of employees and billions of dollars to invest in addressing the problem.

GreenBiz21's breakout on transforming the food system brought together sustainability executives at three of the largest food companies in the world — PepsiCo, Danone and Kellogg’s — to find out where they are prioritizing their efforts. Representatives from the companies highlighted some tactics they’re using to catalyze changes to their own operational habits and meet their increasingly aggressive climate commitments. Here are three high-level takeaways from the session.

1.PepsiCo is prioritizing partnerships on its path to net-zero emissions

PepsiCo at its core is an agricultural company — according to PepsiCo CSO Jim Andrew, 52 percent of the food and beverage company’s products start in the ground. To address its impact, PepsiCo recently announced that it’s doubling its science-based targets to reduce absolute greenhouse gas emissions by more than 40 percent by 2030 and to achieve net-zero emissions by 2040. Andrew highlighted that partnerships are the only way for PepsiCo to reach its goals.

"We’re trying to team up with as many people as we can to crack the nut on some of these big, big complicated issues," Andrew said. "There’s power in public and private partnerships when it comes to these big systemic challenges, to find and implement shared solutions and then scale them."

Since 2017, PepsiCo has partnered with Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy in a bid to get 100 percent of its packaging to be recoverable or recyclable by 2025. Its recent results included that it seems to be inching towards that goal. In late 2020, PepsiCo announced 100 percent of its bottles in nine European markets will be made from recycled PET by 2022. Adding to its partnership arsenal in 2021, PepsiCo disclosed in late January that it is teaming up with Beyond Meat to launch an all-plant based line of snacks and drinks.

2. Danone uses its niche brands to experiment with sustainability innovations

As the world’s largest B Corp, Danone feels that it has "an obligation to act with an urgency that is in line with the size of the problem," said Deanna Bratter, head of sustainable development at Danone North America, during the GreenBiz 21 session.

Danone has set goals in line with science-based targets, including a 50 percent reduction in full-scope emissions by 2030. Danone has even narrowed in on a few key brands including Horizon, which it hopes will be the first national organic dairy brand to go carbon positive across its full supply chain by 2025. And it has established a $15 million investment fund for Horizon farmers toward that end.

The company is also tackling food waste with other partners to put the weight of Danone behind the projects. For example, in conjunction with the nonprofit Full Harvest, Danone used rescued Meyer lemons in its Two Good Yogurt and plans to launch more flavors in 2021.

"There are not, in most cases, solutions that can be solved by one company stepping forward and raising their hand," Bratter said. "Sometimes you need to be that company so you can be a catalyst to ignite the conversation, accelerate the conversation or show what’s possible."

3. Kellogg’s highlights the importance of the investor focus ESG goals

Kellogg’s is already a plant-forward food company with world-class recycling. According to James Duies, director of investor relations at Kellogg’s, 76 percent of its packaging is recyclable and 86 percent of its portfolio is plant-based. It plans to ramp up even more plant-based options by making its sub-brand Morningstar 100 percent vegan and starting a new alternative meat line called Incognito.

By switching to these more plant-based options, Kellogg’s is aiming for a 15 percent per pound of food produced reduction in emissions by 2020 and 100 percent reusable, recyclable or compostable packaging by the end of 2025.

But he stressed that the real innovation is coming from investors, who have been part of the inspiration behind such initiatives.

"There is a groundswell under ESG investing," Duies said. "Many more investors are choosing their investments today based upon ESG factors. There has been a convergence of traditional investors with those that are more solely focused on ESG."

According to Duies, Kellogg’s Better Days commitment had strong support from investors, which helped Kellogg’s invest resources into reducing Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions by 65 percent and to achieve 100 percent renewable electricity by 2050.

During the session, Duies emphasized the importance of actions by the Vanguards and BlackRocks of the world that have the buying power of millions of dollars of ordinary people’s money invested in their funds. They, as the guardians of those assets, can direct those funds to prosocial endeavors, he said.


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Global Food Systems Seed Grant Program

K-State’s university-wide Global Food Systems, or GFS, initiative builds on our strengths and land-grant mission to help address the challenge of sustainably feeding a world population that will double global food demand by 2050. Given the importance of food production to the Kansas economy, the innovation and knowledge resulting from this initiative are expected to assist with job creation and economic development within the state and to help Kansas remain a leader in food production. To this end, the State of Kansas has provided K-State with funding for GFS-related research, workforce development, and economic development and innovation activities. The GFS Seed Grant Program addressed by this Request for Proposals, or RFP, is supported by this state funding.

The GFS Seed Grant Program, beginning with FY 2022 funding, will have an RFP issued early in the calendar year with funding decisions being made in spring to allow July 1 start dates for awards. Funded research must be carried out within the given fiscal year with no carryovers or no-cost extensions allowed. This GFS Seed Grant offering will be for the 2022 fiscal year — July 1, 2021-June 30, 2022. The GFS Seed Grant Program invites applications for innovative research in all aspects of global food systems including, but not limited to:

  • Increasing food production — crops or livestock, e.g. crop yield improvement, pest management, or animal health.
  • Better management of water and other resources/systems related to food production and distribution, better management of the food produced.
  • Keeping food systems safe — including both food safety and bio/agro security.
  • Increasing food nutritional value.
  • Policy, social concerns, and economic factors driving food systems.
  • Combating obesity and nutritional illiteracy.
  • Innovative educational and outreach approaches to increasing public understanding of GFS — e.g., use of the arts as an engagement medium).

Some specific guidelines for developing proposals include:

  • Preference will be given to projects that are interdisciplinary, engaging multiple disciplines and multiple colleges.
  • Students — graduate and/or undergraduate — should be integrated into projects to help develop the future food systems workforce.
  • Collaboration with industry is encouraged, particularly with Kansas-based companies or companies where there is an opportunity for job creation/investment within the state. Because of the importance of this criterion to the State, we are requiring a mandatory training in finding industry partners for all applicants.
  • Proposals MUST address impacts on job creation and/or economic development because of the source of this funding from the state of Kansas.
  • Proposals addressing an equipment purchase must demonstrate that the equipment will primarily support research related to the GFS initiative. This demonstration should include a listing of users and the types of research those users will conduct with the equipment.

Funds made available through this seed grant program may support activities such as pilot projects, workshops, planning activities or program development, equipment purchase, or collaboration with external consultants — justification required discuss with the Office of Research Development prior to inclusion) as appropriate to achieve the stated goals and objectives. Funds may not be used to sustain ongoing projects or support work conducted outside of the U.S. Furthermore, awards are not renewable nor will there be any no cost extensions of the one year period of performance allowed for these projects. The funding available in this call for proposals is about $900,000. Requests may be made up to a total of $100,000 in direct costs for a 1-year period of performance however, most awards will be in the $50,000 range or more depending on quality of the submission.


Only K-State faculty members — either tenured, tenure-track, or research-track — are eligible to apply for seed grant funding under this opportunity. Subcontracting with another university/group is not allowed external consultants may be allowed but must have been approved by ORD in advance of submission.

Evaluation criteria
  1. Strength of the idea proposed and the clarity of its presentation.
  2. Well-articulated goals and objectives.
  3. Well laid out and understandable approach section.
  4. Explanation of the significance and benefits of the project.
  5. Relevance of the project to the GFS initiative.
  6. Capability of the project team to complete what is proposed.
  7. Inclusion of clear and believable economic effects — especially those in Kansas. Note, because of its importance to the funder, this section is weighted the highest of any other review criteria.
  8. Demonstrated involvement of participants from multiple disciplines and multiple K-State colleges.
  9. Specific plans to attract new externally sponsored funding to solve GFS grand challenges.
  10. Involvement of industry in the project, particularly Kansas-based companies or companies where there is an opportunity for job creation/investment within the state.
  11. Identification of additional sources of funding — cash or in-kind — to support the proposed activity and/or its broader strategy.
  12. Training of students — provide estimate of number of students trained per year — to support the global food systems industry.
  13. Attraction/creation of jobs in Kansas.
  14. Attraction of national attention to GFS issues through a regional or national presentation, publication, or the like.
Application instructions

Please use 11-pt, Times New Roman or Calibri font with 1” page margins.

  • A cover sheet (.docx) that includes the project title and the names/department/college of the PI and co-PIs (limited to a total of three PIs/co-PIs).
  • A 3/4-page abstract that summarizes the project proposed, relates the project’s relevance to the GFS initiative and lists envisioned outcomes of the proposal if it is funded.
  • A project description (3-pages maximum) that includes a project statement with goals, objectives and anticipated outcomes a background/ justification section a description of the research/project that will be conducted, and a discussion of how the project addresses as many as possible of the evaluation criteria. The role of students in the project should be clearly articulated. Also, include a section on the likely economic impacts of the project as per the bulleted guidelines above. All images, figures, and tables needed in the project description should fit within the 3-page project description. Appendices are not allowed. Proposals that are primarily equipment requests must address why the equipment is needed, where will it be housed, what is the GFS-related research and training that the equipment will enable, and if comparable equipment is available on campus, why the requested equipment is also needed.
  • A listing of references cited (does not count against 3-page limit).
    For major equipment requests, a list of likely users of the equipment and the type of GFS research each will conduct as well as plan for handling the operation and management costs of the equipment after its purchase (2-page limit).
  • A timeline with major milestones and deliverables.
  • A participant list showing name, department, college, and project role.
  • A biosketch — 2-pages, NSF format — for PIs and co-PIs.
  • A budget using the NSF Standard Budget form with an accompanying justification.
  • Do not include Indirect Costs. Matching funds from industrial/private collaborators are encouraged and should be addressed in the budget justification.

A one-hour training session on working with industry partners is mandatory for this submission. There will be two time slots made available for this training.

The above components should be combined and submitted as a single PDF file. These are not to be entered into Cayuse SP by the submitting unit.


Proposals are due by 5 p.m. CDT on Friday, April 9, 2021 and should be submitted electronically, with subject, “GFS Proposal” to:


Proposals will be reviewed in late April and early May. Feedback will be provided on proposals that are not funded.

Award and project reporting

Award announcements will be made and projects will start on July 1, 2021 and run through June 30 of the 2022 fiscal year. A progress report at six months will be required so that we can report preliminary outcomes to the state.

Extension Announced for Global Food System Project - Recipes

A pineapple farmer in the state of Mizoram, India cultivating pineapple from crown to feed the domestic demand and export to Nepal, UK, Spain and UAE. Photo: Mahak Agrawal

Food is fuel to human existence, and in the evolution of human settlements, food— its production, availability, demand and supply — and food systems have steered the development, expansion and decline of human settlements.

In the 21st century, global food systems face dual challenges of increasing food demand while competing for resources — such as land, water, and energy — that affect food supply. In context of climate change and unpredictable shocks, such as a global pandemic, the need for resiliency in global food systems has become more pressing than ever.

With the globalization of food systems in 1950s, the global food production and associated trade has witnessed a sustained growth, and continues to be driven by advancements in transport and communications, reduction in trade barriers and agricultural tariffs. But, the effectiveness of global food system is undermined by two key challenges: waste and nutrition.

Food wastage is common across all stages of the food chain. Nearly 13.8% of food is lost in supply chains — from harvesting to transport to storage to processing. However, limited research and scientific understanding of price elasticity of food waste makes it tough to evaluate how food waste can be reduced with pricing strategy.

When food is wasted, so are the energy, land, and resources that were used to create it. Nearly 23% of total anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions between 2007-2016 were derived from agriculture, forestry and other land uses. Apart from cultivation and livestock rearing, agriculture also adds emissions through land clearance for cultivation. Overfishing, soil erosion, and depletion and deterioration of aquifers threaten food security. At the same time, food production faces increasing risks from climate change — particularly droughts, increasing frequency of storms, and other extreme weather events.

The world has made significant progress in reducing hunger in the past 50 years. Yet there are nearly 800 million people without access to adequate food. Additionally, two billion people are affected by hidden hunger wherein people lack key micronutrients such as iron, zinc, vitamin A and iodine. Apart from nutrient deficiency, approximately two billion people are overweight and affected by chronic conditions such as type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases.

In essence, the global food system is inadequate in delivering the changing and increasing demands of the human population. The system requires an upgrade that takes into account the social-cultural interactions, changing diets, increasing wealth and wealth gap, finite resources, challenges of inequitable access, and the needs of the disadvantaged who spend the greatest proportion of their income on food. To feed the projected 10 billion people by 2050, it is essential to increase and stabilize global food trade and simultaneously align the food demand and supply chains across different geographies and at various scales of space and time.

How food and agriculture fit into the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. Image: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

Back in 1798, Thomas Robert Malthus, in his essay on the principle of population, concluded that “the power of population is so superior to the power of the earth to produce subsistence for man, that premature death must come in some shape or other visit the human race.” Malthus projected that short-term gains in living standards would eventually be undermined as human population growth outstripped food production, thereby pushing back living standards towards subsistence.

Malthus’ projections were based on a model where population grew geometrically, while food production increased arithmetically. While Malthus emphasized the importance of land in population-food production dynamics, he understated the role of technology in augmenting total production and family planning in reducing fertility rates. Nonetheless, one cannot banish the Malthusian specter food production and population are closely intertwined. This close relationship, however, is also affected by changing and improving diets in developing countries and biofuel production — factors that increase the global demand for food and feed.

Around the world, enough food is produced to feed the planet and provide 3,000 calories of nutritious food to each human being every day. In the story of global food systems once defined by starvation and death to now feeding the world, there have been a few ratchets — technologies and innovations that helped the human species transition from hunters and gatherers to shoppers in a supermarket. While some of these ratchets have helped improve and expand the global food systems, some create new opportunities for environmental damage.

To sum it up, the future of global food systems is strongly interlinked to the planning, management and development of sustainable, equitable and healthy food systems delivering food and nutrition security for all. A bundle of interventions and stimulus packages are needed at both the supply and demand ends to feed the world in the present as well as the future — sustainably, within the planetary boundaries defining a safe operating space for humanity. It requires an intersectoral policy analysis, multi-stakeholder engagement — involving farms, retailers, food processors, technology providers, financial institutions, government agencies, consumers — and interdisciplinary actions.

This blog post is based on an independent study — Future of Food: Examining the supply-demand chains feeding the world — led by Mahak Agrawal in fall 2020 under the guidance of Steven Cohen.

Mahak Agrawal is a medical candidate turned urban planner, exploring innovative, implementable, impactful solutions for pressing urban-regional challenges in her diverse works. Presently, she is studying environmental science and policy at Columbia University as a Shardashish Interschool Fellow and SIPA Environmental Fellow. In different capacities, Mahak has worked with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Town and Country Planning Organization-Government of India, Institute of Transport Economics, Oslo. In 2019, she founded Spatial Perspectives as an initiative that uses the power of digital storytelling and open data to dismantle myths and faulty perspectives associated with spaces around the world. In her spare time, Mahak creates sustainable artwork to tell tales of environmental crisis.


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