Today, 795 million people around the world do not have access to a sufficient supply of safe and nutritious food. The United Nations estimates that worldwide demand for food will increase 70 percent by 2050. To meet this need, production in developing countries will need to almost double.
Establishing global food security is important not only to hundreds of millions of hungry people, but also to the sustainable economic growth of developing nations and the long-term economic prosperity of the United States. As we help countries become more food secure and raise incomes, we also expand markets for American producers. For example, between fiscal years 2010 and 2014, U.S. agricultural exports to developing countries grew 44.3 percent for developing countries, significantly outpacing the 33.4 percent for developed countries. Exports to Southeast Asia grew 56.5 percent.
In 2009, G8 nations committed to act with the scale and urgency needed to achieve sustainable global food security and to be accountable and coordinate with country development plans. In the subsequent years, the United States has invested over $3.75 billion to address global food security, exceeding the President’s commitment, and launched his Feed the Future Initiative. USDA is a key member of the whole of government effort on Feed the Future and supports global food security through in-country capacity building, basic and applied research, and support for improved market information, statistics and analysis. Around the world, USDA has helped to train small farmers and foreign officials on plant and animal health systems, risk analysis, and avoiding post-harvest loss; completed assessments on climate change; and helped to increase agricultural productivity.
Building Local Capacity, Increasing Productivity, and Improving Markets and Trade
USDA staff members are strategically placed to monitor agricultural matters globally in more than 160 countries and assist in USDA’s efforts to build local capacity. Since 2010, USDA has aligned its program with the Feed the Future Initiative to support agriculture development in select focus countries and regions—Ghana, Kenya, East Africa, Bangladesh, Haiti, Guatemala and Central America—and worked in all 19 of the Initiative’s priority countries.
- Over the past six years, USDA’s international food aid programs benefited approximately 48.3 million individuals globally, with assistance valued at nearly $2.2 billion.
- Over the past six years, USDA’s McGovern- Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program supported the education, child development, and food security of some 26 million of the world’s poorest children in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
- With the support of the McGovern Dole program, the United Nations World Food Program provides a daily breakfast of rice, canned fish, vitamin A-fortified vegetable oil, and yellow split peas to feed pre- and primary school students in Siem Reap and two other provinces in Cambodia. The project also provides food scholarships, in the form of take home rations, to poor students as an income-based incentive to encourage poor food-insecure households to send their children to school regularly to increase student attendance and retention rates.
- The McGovern Dole Food for Education program provided training to over 132,000 people on child health and nutrition. Projects have trained health professionals, primary health care workers, community health workers, volunteers, and non-health personnel such as teachers, school administrators and parents.
- In Mali, for example, as part of USDA’s partnership with Catholic Relief Services over 2,000 people have been trained in basic health and nutrition practices such as child growth and development, malnutrition, and how to prepare nutritious foods using locally available foods such as millet, peanuts and beans.
- In order support the sustainability of McGovern Dole efforts, projects aim to create long-lasting public-private partnerships with businesses and producers. While USDA has just started to track these efforts, in the past year, 258 public-private partnerships have been formed. Many of the public-private partnerships formed under the McGovern Dole program are partnerships between producer groups who commit to providing food to local schools, supplementing food provided by USDA.
- In Malawi, for example, the USDA McGovern Dole project implemented by WFP has developed 90 partnerships with farmer group associations that provide a diverse selection of local produce, such as maize, beans and vegetables to their local primary schools as part of the Government of Malawi-supported pilot Home Grown School Feeding model.
USDA’s Food for Progress program helps developing countries and emerging democracies modernize and strengthen their agricultural sectors. The two principle objectives of Food for Progress are increasing agricultural productivity and expanding trade of agricultural products. In fiscal year 2014, nearly 223, 337 individuals in the Feed the Future countries and regions received USDA’s agricultural productivity or food security training.
- Food for Progress projects have trained farmers in animal and plant health and improved techniques and technologies on and off farm. In 2014, over 220,000 producers received training on agricultural sector productivity or food security training as a result of USDA assistance.
- In Honduras, the Food for Progress program implemented by USDA’s partner TechnoServe, Inc., and focused on the coffee and bean sector, trained 13,406 men and 3,357 women in improved agricultural techniques and technologies. In the coffee sector, training was provided in areas such as Good Agricultural Practices (GAP), post-harvest handling, and helping farmers better understand the causes of common coffee bean defects and expectations of international buyers making purchasing decisions.
- As a result of USDA training in improved techniques and technologies, over 80,000 producers in fiscal year 2014 have adopted one or more improved techniques or management practices. Through USDA’s partner, National Cooperative Business Association, more than 19,000 Ugandans have adopted conservation farming practices to their maize, pulse and soybean cultivation. Adopting these practices has led to an average increase in yields of about 47%.
- Farmers adopting improved techniques or technologies in their farming practices have resulted in almost 64,000 hectares of land cultivated under USDA-promoted improved techniques or management practices in nine countries in fiscal year 2014 in Africa and Latin America.
- Counterpart International, in coordination with the Guatemalan Ministry of Agriculture’s formal extension agents, has held over 83 trainings for agricultural producers in Huehuetenango and San Marcos on topics such as soil conservation, water management, integrated pest management, and post-harvest management. While still early in the project, these trainings have resulted in over 2,426 hectares of land cultivated under USDA-promoted improved techniques and technologies.
- USDA programs often support increased access to and utilization of financial services in order to expand agricultural productivity and markets and trade. Making more financial loans shows that there is improved access to business development for producers, cooperatives, MSMEs and business enterprises including producers, service providers and manufacturers. In fiscal year 2014, USDA supported $12.6 million in agricultural and rural loans in Bangladesh, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mali and Tanzania.
- Last year, USDA’s Food for Progress program efforts resulted in close to 10,000 jobs. In Honduras, for example, this has meant that 1,670 new on-farm full-time jobs and 215 new post-production jobs in the coffee and bean sector were attributed to USDA’s work through its partnership with TechnoServe, Inc.
Two of USDA’s premier trade and scientific exchange programs play an important role in USDA’s food security initiatives:
- The Norman E. Borlaug International Agricultural Science and Technology Fellowship Program (Borlaug Fellowship Program or BFP) promotes food security and economic growth by providing training and collaborative research opportunities to fellows from developing and middle-income countries. Borlaug fellows are scientists, researchers, or policymakers who are in the early or middle stages of their careers.
- Over the past six years, USDA’s Borlaug Fellowship Program provided training and collaborative research opportunities to 440 scientists and policymakers from developing and middle-income countries, focusing on a wide range of agriculture-related topics including agronomy, veterinary science, nutrition, food safety, sanitary and phytosanitary issues, natural resource management, and biotechnology.
- The Cochran Fellowship Program strengthens and enhances trade linkages between eligible middle-income and emerging market countries and agricultural interest in the U.S. The Cochran program also assists eligible countries to develop agricultural systems necessary to meet the food and fiber needs of their domestic populations by providing training opportunities for senior and mid-level specialists and administrators working in agricultural trade and policy, agribusiness development, management, animal, plant, and food sciences, extension services, agricultural marketing, and many other areas.
- Over the past six years, USDA’s Cochran Fellowship Program trained 3,148 agricultural professionals worldwide in areas related to agricultural trade, agribusiness development, management, policy, and marketing.
Driving Innovation through Research and Technologies
Since 2009, USDA has expanded analysis and reporting to increase core data, statistics, and analysis of global agricultural systems. In 2011, USDA expanded its annual Food Security Assessment to include 77 countries; completed assessments of agricultural statistics and market information in ten Feed the Future countries and identified key areas where improvement is needed; and conducted in-depth assessments of the capacity of the statistical systems of Ghana, Haiti, Malawi, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda and Bangladesh.
- In 2014, USDA conducted in-depth country assessments of agricultural statistics and market information systems in Benin, Malawi, and Senegal. An on-going agricultural statistics project in Haiti resulted in the first country wide agricultural production survey data release. Tanzania conducted a cognitive pre-test of point sample area frame methodology for an Annual Agricultural Sample Survey.
Important research on solving food production issues continues:
- USDA researchers sequenced the genome of wheat and the wheat stem rust pathogen, which threatens to destroy wheat crops worldwide, and distributed new wheat germplasm globally to reduce the risk of unproductive harvests.
- USDA continues research to combat aflatoxin (mycotoxins can be lethally toxic in high dosages or cause dilatory health effects over the long-term in smaller dosages) through genetic resistance in maize and using RNAi approaches in peanut.
- In partnership with USAID, USDA is part of an international consortium to develop a safe and economically sustainable vaccine for the pathogen that causes East Coast Fever (ECF), a devastating disease of cattle of eastern Africa.
- USDA is cooperating with over a dozen institutions in the United States and developing countries to provide resource poor farmers with dry bean cultivars with improved productivity and quality. Researchers have identified broad spectrum resistance to rust in large seeded landrace cultivars that originate from Tanzania. These landraces, with confirmed resistance in field trials in Africa and the United States, provide breeders with a valuable source of rust resistance for improving large-seeded African cultivars used by small-holder farmers.
- In 2013, the United States, along with the United Kingdom, launched the Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition initiative, which seeks to support global efforts to make agricultural and nutritionally relevant data available, accessible, and usable for unrestricted use worldwide. The initiative encourages collaboration and cooperation among existing agriculture and open data activities. Open access to research, and open publication of data, are vital resources for food security and nutrition, driven by farmers, farmer organizations, researchers, extension experts, policy makers, governments, and other private sector and civil society stakeholders participating in “innovation systems” and along value chains.
Original article can be found here.