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M A R C H 2 0 1 2 / F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L
aims to boost agricultural produc-
tivity, both in Tanzania and the
wider region, by promoting clus-
ters of profitable agricultural farm-
ing and services businesses. This
approach should have major bene-
fits for smallholder farmers and
local communities.
Many critics of development ef-
forts do not realize that food secu-
rity is about much more than food.
It is deeply and inextricably linked to economic, environ-
mental and human security. Over the past decade, we’ve
seen that access to food, particularly as affected by prices,
can ignite volatility. For example, as world food prices
spiked in 2007 and 2008, we saw riots or demonstrations
erupt in more than 30 countries.
By helping to sustainably feed communities in develop-
ing countries, Feed the Future is building a foundation to
head off crises that have the potential to lead to human con-
flict — thereby enhancing our own national security. Fur-
thermore, helping countries grow their economies lifts
people out of poverty and builds the markets of tomorrow.
Laying the Groundwork for Success
To promote greater global involvement in food security,
the United States is one of the five inaugural donors sup-
porting the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program,
along with Canada, Spain, South Korea and the Bill and
Melinda Gates Foundation. This is an innovative, multi-
donor trust fund that has, as of this writing, awarded $481
million to 12 low-income countries, eight of which are also
Feed the Future focus countries.
In addition to a public-sector funding stream, GAFSP
also uses private-sector support to increase the commercial
potential of small and medium-sized agribusinesses and in-
dividual farmers, by bringing them into local, national and
global value chains.
Mindful of the vital role that women play in agriculture
and nutrition, Feed the Future recently launched a fund
to advance innovative approaches to promoting gender
equality in agriculture and land use, and to integrate gen-
der effectively into agricultural development and food se-
curity programs. We also created the Women’s Empower-
ment in Agriculture Index, an innovation that will allow us
to determine whether our programs are having two major
effects: improving gender equality and empowering
women by measuring changes in
their control of assets and house-
hold-level decision-making.
Harnessing agricultural science
and technology is essential to
reaching Feed the Future’s objec-
tives, for supplying sufficient food
for the world’s growing population
will require an estimated 70-per-
cent increase in agricultural pro-
duction by 2050. Under Feed the
Future, we have already more than doubled our research
investments, from $50 million in 2008 to $120 million in
We have also better aligned all U.S. government agency
research programs to create synergies, and generated new
relationships with the private sector. In one major push,
USAID is partnering with USDA to focus on high-impact
research to combat wheat rust, a major threat to wheat pro-
duction worldwide, and aflatoxin, a toxic fungus that infects
many crops and causes illness.
Despite the complexity and enduring nature of these
challenges, those of us working in development know that
they are not impossible to overcome. We have the tools
and the technology. As President John F. Kennedy, re-
flecting on the reasons for our engagement in foreign as-
sistance, said 50 years ago: “Our problems are manmade;
therefore they can be solved by man.”
A Call to Action
I started my career in international development more
than 20 years ago. Over the years, I have been involved in
issues ranging fromdemocracy and human rights to health,
counternarcotics and disaster recovery. These are all im-
portant components of bettering people’s lives, and achiev-
ing our economic development goals for the world’s poor
and hungry requires that we address all of them.
But our renewed commitment to food security allows
us to engage in an area in which the international com-
munity has underinvested for decades, and which can
permanently transform the lives of hundreds of millions
of rural poor. We have been called to action not only by
Pres. Obama and the world’s top leaders, but through the
cries of millions of people around the world who go to
bed with empty stomachs each night and have limited
opportunities to improve their lives.
Now is the time to feed the future.
Investments in agriculture
are helping to transform
the developing world,
eradicating poverty
and hunger.