NEWS HACK: Our (very) foreign food plate | China’s exploding soybean futures | Kenya’s northern frontier push


‘The great Russian plant explorer Nikolai Vavilov reasoned that crops originated in the region of the world where they, and their wild relatives, show up in greatest diversity. This map plots the center of origin and primary region of diversity for 151 different crops. (Some crops, like wheat, have more than one primary region of diversity.) The Royal Society’

Our (very) foreign food plate
‘Some people may be dimly aware that Thailand’s chilies and Italy’s tomatoes—despite being central to their respective local cuisines—originated in South America. Now, for the first time, a new study reveals the full extent of globalization in our food supply. More than two-thirds of the crops that underpin national diets originally came from somewhere else—often far away. And that trend has accelerated over the past 50 years. Colin Khoury, a plant scientist at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (known by its Spanish acronym CIAT) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is the study’s lead researcher. Khoury tells The Salt that “the numbers affirm what we have long known—that our entire food system is completely global.”‘

Globally, foreign crops made up 69 percent
of country food supplies and farm production.

CIAT researchers have produced an interactive graphic that allows you to explore the results. Read the whole article by Jeremy Cherfas on NPR’s The Salt: A map of where your food originated may surprise you, 13 Jun 2016.

China’s exploding soybean futures

Nobody told China’s soybean meal traders
that the commodity frenzy is over.

‘While trading in everything from steel to cotton futures collapsed following steps by the country’s regulators to deflate a speculative bubble in April, the volume of soymeal contracts has continued to expand. The amount of the animal feedstock changing hands in a single day on the Dalian Commodity Exchange is more than the U.S. consumes in an entire year and dwarfs trade on the Chicago Board of Trade. Prices in China have jumped almost 40 percent this year while U.S. futures have returned more than any other raw material on the Bloomberg Commodity Index. Dry weather in Brazil and flooding in Argentina is threatening supplies of soybeans, which are crushed to produce soybean oil and the meal that’s fed to animals. . . . Soybean meal is used principally as a protein supplement in food for livestock, including pigs, chickens, sheep and cattle as well in aquaculture. China has almost 60 percent of the world’s pig population and produces about 14 percent of global chicken meat, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.’ Read the whole article by Alfred Cang on The hottest commodity in China is feeding half the world’s pigs, 15 Jun 2015.

Kenya’s northern frontier push

Kenya will get a World Bank loan of $1.1 billion for
infrastructure projects in the country’s arid northern region….

‘The loan is the latest in series to Kenya, which amount to $5.5 billion, excluding the new package. “It is an unprecedented financial commitment to this part of Kenya,” Makhtar Diop told Reuters in Nairobi. . . . The funds will be used to build roads, improve water and energy supplies and support livestock keeping. They will have a maturity of 50 years and an interest rate of less than 1 percent.’ Read the original article by Duncan Miriri on Kenya to get $1.1bn World Bank loan for northern region infrastructure, 14 Jun 2016.

Got interesting livestock news?
We’d love to hear about it.
Send it (with a weblink, please) to
Susan: s.macmillan [at]

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