Feed the Future to Advance Research, Innovation

December 14, 2012

Washington, DC—The Feed the Future global hunger and food security initiative will make focused investments in agricultural research and technologies to accelerate progress against global hunger and poverty, announced Rajiv Shah, administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The announcement came during a speech at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) last Friday.

During his remarks, Shah emphasized the need to scale up key agricultural technologies that can transform agricultural systems and benefit millions of smallholder farmers as climate change and a growing population challenge food security. To help achieve this, he announced a new competitive exchange program that will encourage U.S. university scientists to share their expertise and increase collaboration with Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) scientists around the world.

Advancing vaccine efforts against the devastating livestock disease East Coast Fever, he noted, could benefit 20 million farmers across Africa, and investing in flood-tolerant rice and could benefit 120 million smallholder farmers, particularly in South Asia. He emphasized that systemic gains can be made from legume productivity and soil fertility technologies such as dual-use legumes, soil inoculum, and nitrogen-fixing trees.

These efforts complement Feed the Future’s ongoing work to bring resources to bear against the challenge of global hunger. U.S. Government partners leading Feed the Future, for example, have engaged with other global research leaders, spurring a G-20 Meeting of Agricultural Chief Scientists (pdf) to advance broader global dialogue and collaboration in agricultural research and development for efforts we know can make a difference. 

Shah also highlighted the Feed the Future Food Security Innovation Center, an updated framework that enables strengthened coordination across the seven programmatic areas of the Feed the Future research portfolio.

“We’re organizing our research agenda around the greatest challenges we face,” Shah said. “By fostering a spirit of research and innovation to dramatically accelerate development, we can reach millions of people and transform the face of extreme poverty.”

The seven programmatic areas of the Feed the Future Food Security Innovation Center include research on climate-resilient cereals, research on legume productivity, advanced approaches to combat pests and diseases, research on nutritious and safe foods, markets and policy research and support, sustainable intensification, and human and institutional capacity development.

These programs include Feed the Future Food Security Innovation Laboratories, formerly known as Collaborative Research Support Programs, or “CRSPs,” and also integrate U.S. universities, CGIAR centers, the private sector, and civil society as fundamental partners.

Because country-led prioritization and accountability are at the heart of Feed the Future, Shah said he has also asked USAID field Missions to work with host-country leaders to focus on targets when identifying key technologies that can make a difference in their countries.  

His remarks coincided with an announcement by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) of five grants, also supported by USAID, totaling $4.5 million to support research to improve common bean production in East and Southern Africa, a critical crop for millions of African households that are cultivated mainly by women.