Food security and nutrition and sustainable agriculture

Tillage is the most common agricultural practice dating back to the origin of agriculture. In recent decades, no-tillage (NT) has been introduced to improve soil and water quality. However, changes in soil properties resulting from long-term NT can increase losses of dissolved phosphorus, nitrate and some classes of pesticides, and NT effect on nitrous oxide (N2O) emission remains controversial. Complementary management that enhances the overall environmental benefits of NT is therefore crucial.
2018 First prize winner Dr. Prajwal Rajbhandari
In 2018, Dr. Prajwal Rajbhandari was awarded the first prize of the Elsevier Foundation Green and Sustainable Chemistry Challenge for his project, “Guava leaves as natural preservatives for farmers of Nepal.” Due to a lack of viable non-toxic preservatives, or cold chain technologies, one-third of Nepal’s produce is spoiled before it reaches market each year. Dr. Rajbhandari’s project taps the antioxidant and antimicrobial properties of guava leaves to make a water-based, sprayable natural preservative, contributing to SDGs 2, 12 and 15. Two years later, we interviewed Dr. Rajbhandari about his experience as a winner, as well as the upcoming steps for his project.
Background: Eradicating food insecurity is necessary for achieving global health goals. Liberal trade policies might increase food supplies but how these policies influence individual-level food insecurity remains uncertain. We aimed to assess the association between liberal trade policies and food insecurity at the individual level, and whether this association varies across country-income and household-income groups.
Elsevier, Current Opinion in Insect Science, Volume 40, August 2020
Insects such as the black soldier fly (BSF) are a nutritious feed component for livestock with high protein levels. BSF can be reared on a wide range of organic residual streams. This allows for local production within a circular agriculture, decoupling livestock production from import of expensive feed components, such as fishmeal or soymeal. Rearing of BSF can be done by smallholder farmers, thus contributing to their livelihood, economic sustainability and social status. Smallholder farmers contribute importantly to food security, which is a prerequisite for a stable society.
Insects are indispensable actors within global agri-food systems and ensure the delivery of myriad ecosystem services. A progressive decline in insect numbers — as inflicted by habitat loss, pollution or intensive agriculture — can jeopardize a sustained provisioning of those services. Though we routinely disregard how insects help meet multiple sustainable development challenges, a gradual insect decline can have grave, long-lasting consequences.
Tropical cropping systems are highly dependent on synthetic insecticides, which generates sustainability issues. We performed a bibliometric analysis of the current insecticide literature (2017–2019) and used the Sustainable Development Goals roadmap to identify research topics in insecticide research that should be promoted to attain sustainable cropping systems.
Termites are amongst the main macroinvertebrate decomposers in tropical ecosystems and they exert additional impacts through the creation of biostructures (mounds, galleries, sheetings, etc.) with different soil physical and chemical properties, thereby impacting positively on numerous ecosystem services for humankind. Unfortunately, this positive or ‘bright’ role of termites is often overshadowed by their ‘dark’ side, that is, their status as pests threatening agriculture and constructions.
Elsevier, Current Opinion in Insect Science, Volume 40, August 2020
Viral diseases transmitted by mosquitoes, known as arboviruses, pose a significant threat to human life and are a major burden on many health systems around the world. Currently, arbovirus control strategies rely on insecticides or vector source reduction and, in the absence of effective, accessible and affordable vaccines, mainly on symptomatic based, non-specific treatments. However, insecticides have the potential to interfere with non-target organisms, cause environmental toxicity and insecticide resistance reduces their effectiveness as a sustainable control method.
Elsevier, Trends in Food Science and Technology, Volume 102, August 2020
Background: Plant-based meat alternatives are developed to address consumer demands and sustainability of future food supply, and the market has grown exponentially in recent years. Although progresses have been made to construct plant protein-based fibers organoleptically comparable to a whole-muscle cut, it remains challenging to reproduce the hierarchical organization of muscle tissue known to contribute to the overall sensory profile. For now, the market strategies are largely focused on restructured or formed meat mimeticks.