A Year of Progress under the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition

May 30, 2013
Millennium Challenge Corporation

One year ago, on the eve of the 2012 G8 Summit, President Obama announced the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, ushering in a new phase of global investment in food security and nutrition.

A joint partnership launched under the United States’ G8 Presidency, the New Alliance builds on progress and commitments – both to agriculture and a modern approach to development – made in 2009 at the L’Aquila G8 Summit. It calls on African leaders, the private sector and development partners to accelerate responsible investment in African agriculture and lift 50 million people out of poverty by 2022.

As the President’s global hunger and food security initiative, Feed the Future serves as the principal vehicle through which the United States contributes to the New Alliance. In line with the foundational principles of Feed the Future, the New Alliance supports country-driven approaches to development with input and collaboration from local organizations and leaders to ensure lasting results for smallholder farmers and their families.

In the first year of implementation after its launch, the New Alliance has looked to Feed the Future’s innovative, comprehensive approach as a model for fostering transparency and accountability, increasing private investment, expanding access to new technologies, and fostering a supporting policy environment. We are confident that with the collective commitments of our partners, we will carry the momentum forward on these goals.

We know from experience that the path to sustainable global food security across the entire continuum from farm to market to table can’t be forged by governments alone. That’s why the New Alliance matches effective government policy of African governments with targeted investment from the private sector and the commitment of donors and other development partners to catalyze and support Africa’s potential for rapid and sustainable agricultural growth.

A year later, we can see that this consistent, coordinated effort to reverse a long history of underinvestment in African agriculture is paying off in a variety of important ways. As noted by USAID Administrator Shah in a speech last week at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs’ annual Global Food Security Symposium, the New Alliance has grown into a $3.75 billion public-private partnership representing commitments from more than 70 global and local companies to increase the incomes of smallholder farmers through essential actions like expanding seed production and distribution, and developing infrastructure. A recent Grow Africa report estimates that over $60 million has already been invested over the past year to help link smallholder farmers to commercial markets, with some 800,000 people reached through training, services and market access.

Meanwhile, six African nations have been making critical, market-oriented policy reforms to foster the right conditions for investment and growth in the agriculture sector. Ethiopia, Ghana, Tanzania, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire and Mozambique have all developed Cooperation Frameworks that solidify their participation in the New Alliance and align with their Country Investment Plans in support of the African Union’s Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program.

These joint endeavors have accomplished a lot in a relatively short period of time. At its launch in 2012, the New Alliance supported a package of “Enabling Actions” designed to spur agricultural growth and incentivize greater private sector investment in Sub-Saharan Africa, with a focus on smallholder farmers and women. In 2013, under the leadership of the United States, we’ve moved many of these Enabling Actions forward, including:

  • Launching the Agriculture Fast Track Fund, a multi-donor trust fund housed in the African Development Bank that will increase the number of investment-ready agricultural infrastructure projects in New Alliance countries by defraying front-end project development costs the private sector may not shoulder alone
  • Convening an international conference in partnership with G8 countries and the World Bank on Open Data for Agriculture, in order to develop options for establishing a global platform to share reliable agricultural and related information relevant to African countries, farmers, researchers and policy makers
  • Launching a Technology Platform to assess the availability of improved agricultural technologies, identify constraints to their adoption, and create a roadmap to accelerate the adoption of these technologies among farmers

We’ve also seen progress on the ground in our New Alliance countries. In Ethiopia, DuPont recently opened a state-of-the-art seed processing plant and warehouse that will help 35,000 smallholder maize farmers increase their yields by as much as 50 percent. Ghana Nuts, once a recipient of U.S. Government development assistance, is now a leading agro processor and signed a letter of intent under the New Alliance to promote soya and expand maize procurement and processing in Ghana. The Government of Tanzania’s decision this year to end a longstanding export ban on maize, rice and other crops will help rural farmers collect fair prices for their harvests. And just eight months after officially joining the New Alliance last September on the margins of the 2012 UN General Assembly, Mozambique, Cote d’Ivoire and Burkina Faso have also begun implementing key policy reforms to improve efficiency and transparency, and boost incomes of smallholders employed throughout the agriculture sector in their countries.

While these are just a few examples of the strides made since last May, we also know that there are still challenges ahead to ensure that the New Alliance makes a tangible and lasting contribution to poverty reduction and food security and nutrition across Sub-Saharan Africa. In June, the United Kingdom will host the 2013 G8 Summit, continuing the momentum of this effort with a major “Nutrition for Growth” event that will call on global leaders to make the commitments needed to prevent undernutrition. More African countries are expected to join the New Alliance this year as well.

By continuing to build our evidence base so we can focus on what works, and by supporting access and adoption of tools and technologies for smallholder farmers, we can spur transformative, agriculture-based growth and advance improved nutrition, particularly in the first 1,000 days between pregnancy and a child’s second birthday. Through Feed the Future, and together with our partners from African and donor governments, the private sector, civil society, and the research community, the U.S. Government will continue to be a strong advocate for the New Alliance as we strive to meet President Obama’s challenge to end extreme poverty in the next two decades.

Read the May edition of the Feed the Future newsletter to learn more about New Alliance progress. For even more about progress on global food security and nutrition, stay tuned for the second Feed the Future progress report, coming this summer.