Türkiye’s President has said that Russia has agreed to ship wheat free of charge to Türkiye to be milled into flour and shipped to poor African countries. The idea was first raised last November when the two countries and the UN extended the Black Sea grain corridor.
Argentina’s drought-hit soybean crop could be the lowest since 2018, but Brazil is heading for bumper harvests in corn and soybeans.
India is harvesting a record wheat crop, up 5 per cent from last season, raising hopes that the government may soon ease export restrictions. Traders already expect the government to ease restrictions on rice exports.
US wheat exports were the lowest in over four decades in 2022 and down 26 per cent compared to 2016-17, the last year the US was the world’s leading wheat exporter.
Malaysia is considering halting palm oil exports to the EU in retaliation for the bloc’s new deforestation regulations. It has already agreed with Indonesia to (try to) work together on the issue.
Heavy rain has led to severe flooding in some areas of California. Virtually none of the storms has reached the Colorado River basin; the drought is not over. A lack of infrastructure to store and move water means that the rains will not help the state’s almond farmers.
The FAO Food Price Index averaged 143.7 points in 2022, more than 14 per cent above the 2021 average, coming on top of a 28 per cent increase in 2021. US food prices rose 10 per cent in 2022 after a 0.3 per cent increase in December.
Although food inflation has eased, some believe the problem has not disappeared. Markets, however, have different ideas. After all, high prices are the best cure for high prices.
I wonder whether the Economist will one day realise that.
Alphabet (Google to the rest of us) has launched a new subsidiary, Mineral. Its mission is to “help scale sustainable agriculture” by “developing a platform and tools that help gather, organise, and understand never-before known or understood information about the plant world – and make it useful and actionable.”
Wheat provides 20 per cent of global calories – more than any other crop – yet most of it has limited genetic variation, leaving it vulnerable to climate change. Researchers in Mexico hope to correct that situation.
Forbes has an interesting article on how technology will transform the way that agriculture is financed. The magazine cites how various companies provide climate insurance to small farmers in developing countries.
The BBC joins the growing chorus questioning the potential for vertical farming, writing that the challenge is to keep energy use down when the alternative – growing outside – comes with free sunlight and rainwater.
John Deere has agreed to let its US customers fix their equipment.
Will lab-grown meat technology be one of the food trends to shape 2023? I am not convinced, but this article believes it will be.
Bill Gates (one of the largest owners of US farmland) is bullish alt-meat products and believes that “they will eventually be very good.”
The bee population has been declining for several years, but several companies are working to find a solution.
During the First World War, scientists discovered that certain types of yeast can produce oily lipids. National Geographic writes that it may compete with vegetable and palm oils.
Cargill has joined forces with Mitsui & Co to order two methanol-fuelled bulk carriers with delivery scheduled in the first quarter of 2026.
Taiwan’s Evergreen Marine Corp. is celebrating a record year by awarding year-end bonuses equal to more than four years’ pay, on average. I wonder whether the captain of the company’s Ever Given ship – the one that ran aground in the Suez Canal – will receive one.
Ironically, the M/V Glory, a cargo vessel carrying Ukrainian grain, briefly ran aground in the Suez Canal before being refloated and towed away.
The Guardian kindly (and bizarrely) provides a step-by-step guide to what to do when a big ship sinks.
Customs officers at the port of Antwerp and Rotterdam seized a record 160 mt of cocaine in 2022. We guess they found most of it in containers.
A new study suggests that a baking technology introduced in the 1980s to reduce fermentation times may cause the rising incidence of gluten intolerance.
Vox raises the issue of antibiotics used in livestock farming, while Yahoo resuscitates an old study that finds eating lentils could add ten years to your life. (Spoiler: You must eat a lot of them.)
Finally, three environmental groups are taking Danone, the company behind Evian and Volvic mineral water, to court for allegedly failing to reduce its plastic footprint. Perhaps the company could transform its waste plastic into a soil additive.
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PS Following reader feedback, I will send this report twice a month on alternate Mondays to the interviews.
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