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Examination of fatty acid and sterol compositions are the most common analytical methods used to identify adulterated products. (Image source: Adobe Stock)

As the olive oil industry continues to face unprecedented challenges, there has been a gradual increase in fraudulent activities involving the sale of counterfeit mixtures that closely resemble authentic olive oil

The Mediterranean region responsible for the majority of the world's extra-virgin olive oil production has been hit by a severe drought, resulting in significant reductions in output from countries like Spain, Tunisia, Greece and Italy. This scenario has led to a dramatic surge in prices, in turn attracting counterfeiters who are exploiting the situation by introducing fake products into the market. With more than 260,000 litres of fake olive oil seized in Italy and Spain, Europol's recent investigations have shed light on the alarming prevalence of counterfeit olive oil within the market. 

Fraudulant schemes like these involve the substitution of high-quality olive oil with cheaper, inferior seed oils that are manipulated with additives like chlorophyll and carotenoids to mimic the appearance of authentic olive oil, thus deceiving the unsuspecting consumer. Mixing olive oil with lower-quality lampante oil is another method used to dilute the purity of olive oil while reducing costs. This not only compromises the quality but also misleads consumers about the product they are purchasing. Extra-virgin olive oil, a popular staple in culinary traditions has therefore, come under scrutiny wordwide, urging consumers and restauranteurs alike to exercise caution and vigilance.  

The presence of polyphenols are responsible for olive oil's unique flavour profiles, ranging from sweet to bitter or zesty. These compounds not only contribute to the oil's taste but also offer numerous health benefits. Characteristics like taste and aroma that are distinctive to authentic olive oil cannot be replicated by seed oils. However, distinguishing genuine olive oil from fraudulent mixtures can be challenging. Examination of fatty acid and sterol compositions are the most common analytical methods used to identify adulterated products. 

Moreover, since certain countries do allow the sale of blended oils, it is extremely important for consumers to carefully examine product labels for harvest dates, locations and certification seals from reputable third-party organisations, prior to selecting extra-virgin olive oil. Advances in technology, such as blockchain systems for traceability, offer promising solutions for enhancing transparency in the olive oil supply chain. However, the effectiveness of these tools is contingent upon consumer awareness and engagement. 


The Indo-US Millets Initiative aims to raise awareness about the benefits of millets and sorghum and increase and exchange research regarding their implementation into current food systems. (Image source: Adobe Stock)

Sorghum United CEO, Nate Blum discusses the recent launch of the Indo-US Millets initiative that is bringing together major players across India and the US, to unlock the potential of resilient, nutrition-packed crops called millets

In a world grappling with the ever-increasing challenges of climate change, food security has become a paramount concern. With extreme weather events, water scarcity, and rising temperatures to contend with, it is imperative that we find climate-resilient agricultural solutions for the future to support our growing population. 

Many of the crops that we heavily rely on today, such as rice, wheat, and maize, are vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Studies predict that maize production will drop 15-20% in North and South America by 2050, which could have a devastating effect on the population. Rice is a staple for nearly half of our population, yet rising temperatures could result in a 40% decrease in rice yields by 2100. In Africa and South Asia, where food security is already a significant concern, wheat yield is predicted to lower 15-16% by the middle of the century.

But all is not lost. The Indo-US Millets Initiative, a collaborative effort between organisations in India and the United States, has been launched to help solve these pressing food production issues. Spearheaded by several organisations across both countries, including the North American Millets Alliance, India Millets Initiative, Sorghum United, and the Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute, the initiative aims to raise awareness about the benefits of millets and sorghum and increase and exchange research regarding their implementation into current food systems.

Despite being overshadowed for so long, millets and sorghum offer numerous nutritional and environmental benefits, and it’s time we take advantage of them. These grains have a significantly higher tolerance to drought and heat than maize, wheat, and rice, making them more reliable crops as global temperatures continue to elevate. Moreover, millets and sorghum require 30% less water than current staple crops, holding the potential to reduce water irrigation demand by 33%. In addition, they also provide numerous health benefits that wheat, rice and maize lack. 

As the Indo-US Millets Initiative works to bring millets and sorghum back into the limelight, there are several challenges to overcome. In order to increase the production of these grains, there is a pressing need for additional research into developing high-yielding seed varieties and efficient processing strategies as well as technical support for farmers. Public access and awareness must also be increased in order to incentivise these important steps.

The United Nations declared 2023 the 'International Year of Millets,' demonstrating an increasing interest in exploring millets as a weapon against food insecurity. With the initiative and other millets programmes, such as the Alternative Crops Lab, based in Nebraska, the area is poised to take the lead as a hub for millets and sorghum research and development within the US. Recently, experiments have been greenlighted to study the contrast in greenhouse gas emissions from maize and millets, and new varieties of millets have been tested in Nebraska’s climate. There have also been efforts to begin studies of consumer demand and farmer profitability.

Given the uncertainties surrounding future food production and the challenges posed by climate change, the importance of investigating millets and sorghum as viable solutions cannot be overstated. As these grains gain renewed popularity, they illuminate a sustainable path toward improving global health and securing food stability.

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Key outcomes of the meeting included the development of plans for establishing Centres of Excellence on Millets in major millet-producing countries. (Image source: ICRISAT)

Representatives from the global south gathered in Dubai from 25-26 March, to convene a collective action plan to secure the future of millets

High-level representatives from leading millet-producing countries in the global south including India, Mali, Nigeria, Niger, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, and Malawi, alongside prominent organisations such as the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the International Centre for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), the International Centre for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA), and the Indian Institute of Millets Research (IIMR), came together to devise strategies for strengthened collaboration under a shared vision of resilience for the drylands.

Key outcomes of the meeting included the development of plans for establishing Centers of Excellence on Millets in major millet-producing countries, that envision to serve as hubs for innovation, research, and knowledge exchange, driving sustainable crop production, resilient value chains, and broader consumer access to affordable and nutritious millet-based diets. The convening also served as a platform to reaffirm a shared commitment to achieving the sustainable development goals (SDGs) in the global south, particularly by supporting food security, poverty eradication, and environmental sustainability.

“It is important that we build on the momentum and legacy of the International Year of Millets 2023 (IYM2023) to ensure the world has access to millets, which are Smart Food with the ability to feed and nourish the planet amid growing global populations, increasing temperatures and climatic events,” remarked director general of ICRISAT, Dr Jacqueline d’Arros Hughes.  

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Recent developments in the foliar fertiliser market help enhance product performance and market competitiveness. (Image source: Persistence Market Research)

The foliar fertiliser market which offers innovative solutions to enhance crop productivity, nutrient uptake, and plant health represents a vital segment within the agricultural industry

Foliar fertilisers are applied directly to plant leaves, where they are rapidly absorbed and assimilated, providing essential nutrients and micronutrients to support plant growth and development. A number of factors including an increase in demand for sustainable agriculture practices, efficient nutrient management, and higher crop yields drive the continued expansion of the foliar fertiliser market. 

Foliar fertilisers, applied directly to the leaves of plants, offer a quick and efficient method of delivering essential nutrients, micronutrients, and bio-stimulants directly to the plant's vascular system, bypassing soil nutrient limitations and enhancing nutrient uptake and utilisation. As agriculture faces the dual challenges of feeding a growing global population while mitigating environmental impact, the foliar fertiliser market presents abundant opportunities for manufacturers to innovate and address the evolving needs and preferences of farmers worldwide.

According to a report published by Persistence Market Research, with soil degradation, nutrient depletion, and environmental pollution posing significant challenges to global food security and sustainability, there is increasing interest in foliar fertilisers as a precision agriculture tool that enables targeted and efficient nutrient application, reduces fertiliser waste and runoff, and minimises environmental impact. Manufacturers can capitalise on this trend by developing a wide range of foliar fertiliser formulations tailored to different crops, growth stages, and nutritional requirements, as well as offering products enriched with organic matter, humic substances, and plant growth regulators that enhance nutrient absorption, root development, and stress tolerance.

Recent developments in the foliar fertiliser market focus on innovation, sustainability, and technology integration to enhance product performance and market competitiveness. Manufacturers are now investing in research and development to introduce next-generation foliar fertilisers with advanced nutrient delivery systems, enhanced nutrient bioavailability, and compatibility with modern farming practices. Innovations such as nano-fertilisers, controlled-release formulations, and biostimulant combinations offer opportunities for improving nutrient efficiency, reducing environmental impact, and maximising crop yields.

Companies are also adopting eco-friendly ingredients, renewable energy sources, and recyclable packaging materials to reduce carbon footprint and promote environmental stewardship throughout the product lifecycle. Moreover, to enhance market trust and brand reputation, certification programmes such as organic, non-GMO, and fair trade certifications provide assurance to farmers and consumers regarding the sustainability and ethical production of foliar fertiliser products.

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The workshop brought together ECOWAS Commission staff, national statistical offices, trade promotion organisations, and regional research institutes from across the ECOWAS region. (Image source: International Trade Centre)

A five-day workshop aimed at strengthening food trade in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), was held from 4-8 March in Abuja, Nigeria 

By bringing together ECOWAS Commission staff, national statistical offices, trade promotion organisations, and regional research institutes from across the ECOWAS region, the workshop aimed to enhance how agri-food policies and services are managed. Using data tools can reveal how foods fit into value chains, while also enabling better analysis of the export potential of key commodities. 

Conducted within the framework of the ECOWAS Agricultural Trade (EAT) programme, the event shed light on export potential and value chain methodologies, with a specific focus on intra-regional trade in the agri-food sector. Priority products targeted by the EAT programme include cassava, corn, rice, tomatoes, pineapple and onions. Participants at the workshop not only learned to navigate agri-food trade data, specifically on these priority products, but also engaged in practical activities and interactive sessions to develop strategies for advancing agri-food value chains

Moreover, participants also collaborated to chart a course towards a more sustainable and prosperous future, with their dedication and insights setting the stage for meaningful progress in agri-food trade within ECOWAS. Along with support from the West Africa Association for Cross-Border Trade (WACTAF), the workshop complemented official trade statistics with information available on informal cross border trade provided by the ECOWAS Informal Cross Border Trade database.

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