Washington, DC—Today, at the U.S. launch of the Feed the Future 2013 Progress Report, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Rajiv Shah announced two new Feed the Future Innovation Labs to improve climate resilience in some of Africa’s main cereal crops and increase private sector investment that can help smallholder farmers.
The two new labs include the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Collaborative Research on Sorghum & Millet and the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Food Security Policy. These Innovation Labs draw on the expertise of top universities around the country and represent a new model of development, using science and technology to address our greatest challenges in agriculture and food security.
“Today, as we celebrate Feed the Future’s success over the last year, I am pleased to launch two new Feed the Future Innovation Labs with U.S. universities and their partners,” said Dr. Shah. “The Feed the Future on Sorghum & Millet Innovation Lab reflects President Obama's and Feed the Future's strong focus on using science and technology to help smallholders meet the challenge of increasing cereal production even as climate change alters environmental conditions and reduces agricultural productivity. The Food Security Policy Innovation Lab builds directly on President Obama's leadership in launching the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition last year. It will help many more countries worldwide achieve major policy reforms, attract significant private sector investments, and increase economic opportunities for smallholder farmers, other rural people and urban consumers”
During the Capitol Hill event co-hosted by the Senate Hunger Caucus and The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, Dr. Shah announced the two new labs as part of the Feed the Future Food Security Innovation Center, which was launched in 2012 to address the greatest challenges to food security and nutrition.
The new Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Collaborative Research on Sorghum & Millet will be led by Kansas State University and will produce innovations and technologies—such as climate-resilient varieties and new, more profitable market approaches for farmers—for use across sorghum and millet producing areas in Africa.
As part of the Innovation Lab, U.S. university researchers will collaborate with partner country scientists to address key constraints along the sorghum and pearl millet value chains, developing new technologies and innovations that can then be used by smallholder farmers on a larger scale to build productivity and sustainability. The research outputs will also improve resilience in dryland areas, where sorghum and pearl millet are critical to food security. The program will focus specifically in Senegal, Niger and Ethiopia.
The Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Food Security Policy, led by a consortium including Michigan State University, the International Food Policy Research Institute and the University of Pretoria, will help increase partner countries’ capacity to identify and implement improved food security policies that can help facilitate greater food security and nutrition.
This Innovation Lab will work with and support a wide range of governments, local think tanks, university researchers, private sector associations and civil society groups in building capacity and providing critical information to inform better food, agriculture and nutrition policies.
Q: How was Feed the Future born?
In 2009 at the G-8 Summit in L’Aquila, Italy, President Obama addressed global leaders on the need to reverse the decades-long decline of agricultural investment and called on them to harness collaboration between donors, partner governments and civil society to strengthen global efforts to reduce poverty, hunger and undernutrition. Feed the Future is President Obama’s U.S. Government initiative and contribution to this global effort to advance food security and nutrition. Driven by the belief that global hunger is solvable, we’re seeing some great results from farms to markets to tables.
Q: What does success look like for Feed the Future?
Success equals results — the number of individuals who have access to better nutrition, the number of farmers who have benefitted from improved agricultural technologies, and the number of new partnerships that work collectively to improve food security, to name a few. We just released our FY2012 Feed the Future Progress Report and just looking at the numbers is pretty jaw-dropping when you think of the individuals whose lives have been directly impacted by the initiative.
In 2012, Feed the Future programs reached more than 9 million families; our nutrition programs reached more than 12 million children under five; we helped nearly 7.5 million farmers and other food producers adopt improved technologies or management practices (30 percent of whom were women); we helped boost the sales of agricultural products by more than $100 million, which, in turn, helped increase their incomes; we forged more than 660 public-private partnerships to improve food security from a community level to a global level; and increased the value of agricultural and rural loans overall by more than $150 million.
Q: What is Feed the Future’s approach for achieving success?
We know that meeting our Feed the Future objectives will only happen with true partnerships at every level. We use a combination of multiple approaches that involve collaboration among government partners, agricultural researchers, civil society and community members, the country’s own leadership, in-country and international companies, and other organizations that champion the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger around the world. When we implement Feed the Future programs, we want them to deliver cost-effective results, align with the focus country priorities, see opportunity in innovative partnerships, encourage private investment, and we want to ensure that our programs are deeply ingrained in the culture and business model of the country, so they are equipped to respond to food crises in the future.
A great example is Mercy Chitwanga’s story. Mercy is a dairy farmer in Malawi and Chairperson of the Chitsanzo Dairy Cooperative, a group of smallholder dairy farmers that was awarded a $95,000 Feed the Future grant through the United States African Development Foundation (USADF) in 2011. She received capacity building training through the grant, and now is one of more than 1,000 female dairy farmers in Malawi who are increasing their earnings and accessing more nutritious food for their children with support from Feed the Future.
Q: What’s in Feed the Future’s future?
Reducing poverty and undernutrition through agricultural development remains our anchor. Despite the progress we’ve made already, there is still more to be done. Approximately 870 million people in the world remain hungry today (that’s one in eight people) and 98 percent of them live in developing countries. And the world’s population keeps increasing. It’s projected to exceed 9 billion by 2050, requiring at least a 60 percent increase in global food production. So, we have a lot of work to do.
We will continue striving to make Feed the Future even more effective, to produce more results, and increase the impact and reach of U.S. food assistance to the places that need it most. We’ll also be working toward reducing the prevalence of stunted children under five years of age by 20 percent in the areas where we work. We’ve seen the transformative power of agricultural technologies and we’re looking forward to seeing how innovation will further change and improve the agricultural space, allowing even greater access to nutritious food for people everywhere.
Q: How can people get involved with Feed the Future?
There’s a social media campaign right now inviting our partners, the public, and anyone interested in the issues of hunger and poverty to respond to the question “How will you feed the future?” We welcome responses and ask participants to highlight why they’re involved in the fight against hunger and poverty, and offer suggestions on what others can do to help feed the future too. All ideas are welcome — a blog post, a video, a photo, etc.! You can follow and join the campaign on Facebook and Twitter too using the hashtag #feedthefuture. Visit the Feed the Future website for more information.
You can also visit the “Partner With Us” section of the Feed the Future website to view opportunities to get involved, whether you’re a university student, researcher, civil society organization, or private company.
As my final tour with USAID winds down in the coming months, I can step aside with pride and confidence in the work we’re doing on the African continent to increase food security and nutrition. Having worked in Africa for much of the past 30 years, I am firmly convinced that the Agency’s new focus on modernizing and improving agricultural technologies through Feed the Future, President Obama’s global hunger and food security initiative, is having a demonstrable impact.
Here in Senegal, recent statistics indicate a near-doubling of yields in rain-fed rice, from about 1 ton per hectare to 1.82 tons. In some of the country’s most vulnerable areas, undernutrition has been reduced by a large margin in the last year.
What makes these and other statistics really exciting is an opportunity some USAID Mission Directors don’t get in their entire career: a chance to exhibit some of our major successes to the President of the United States himself, who made Senegal the first stop on his second trip to Africa last week.
While here, President Obama toured the Feed the Future Agricultural Technology Marketplace, where at each stop he was able to see how agricultural research and innovation are helping West African farmers to increase incomes and nutrition for their families.
At one booth, Anna Gaye, an entrepreneur, demonstrated how switching to a small-scale, efficient rice mill and an improved rice variety has tripled yields in her region and freed up her time for alternative activities.
At another booth, Pierre Ndiaye, the owner and operator of a factory producing a popular nutritious yogurt-and-millet porridge, explained how USAID helps smallholder producers create his product. We support women’s producer groups around the country to grow quality millet, providing employment to hundreds of women who produce the porridge for local schoolchildren to get a nutritious meal every day.
We were also excited to demonstrate how nutrient fortification of Senegal’s staple foods can result in a radical decrease in undernutrition. Nutrition plays a critically important role in the Feed the Future approach, and fortified food can have a profound effect on the health of children in Senegal and all over Africa.
Yet another stop showed how the technology of today can help farmers as businessmen and women. A young woman president of a 3,000-strong maize farmers’ union explained how they use the internet and mobile devices to control product quality and organize the marketing of their crops, which allows them to collectively compete with large industrial farms across the globe.
What makes these innovations yet more exciting is the potential for scaling them up and sharing them with other nations. New technology is only as good as our ability to get it into the hands of the millions of smallholder farmers who are the foundation for agriculture-led economic growth. Through Feed the Future, we are working to make successful technologies more and more accessible to the farmers who need them the most.
Looking back on the visit and on our tremendous successes in agriculture thus far, I can’t think of a more exciting, rewarding way to end a career with USAID.
This post originally appeared on the USAID blog.
Dakar, Senegal—Today, USAID and the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) announced the Scaling Seeds and Technologies Partnership, a $47 million, three-year partnership intended to accelerate smallholder farmer access to transformative agricultural technologies.
The Partnership will work in four countries within the G8’s New Alliance for Food Security—Ethiopia, Ghana, Mozambique, and Tanzania—where it will help governments strengthen their seed sectors and promote the commercialization, distribution and adoption of improved seeds and other key technologies. The Partnership aims to increase production of high-quality seeds by 45 percent in three years and ensure that 40 percent more farmers gain access to innovative agricultural technologies.
When the New Alliance was launched, President Obama and others pledged to leverage technology’s transformative potential by taking innovation to scale. To accomplish this, they committed to a series of enabling actions to promote adoption of agricultural technologies: setting yield targets that support country-defined agricultural goals, identifying key innovations that can help farmers reach those targets, harnessing information and communication technologies to support agricultural growth, and promoting policy reforms to improve the enabling environment for agricultural investment that will lift millions out of poverty.
The Scaling Seeds and Technologies Partnership will help deliver on these New Alliance commitments. By strengthening seed and input sectors, the Partnership’s efforts will leverage technology’s tremendous potential to spur agricultural growth in Africa, which in turn can catalyze broad-based economic growth, improve smallholder incomes, and reduce hunger, poverty and stunting in children. These gains will also help partner governments meet the country-determined agricultural priorities they set during the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Plan (CAADP) process.
”The Scaling Seeds and Technologies Partnership will help strengthen seed sectors, including regulatory systems, and create new local seed companies, ensuring that game-changing technologies can reach and improve the lives of millions of smallholders,” said USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah. “The United States will continue to support this and other New Alliance efforts through Feed the Future, President Obama’s global hunger and food security initiative.”
“We have seen great progress in the development of seeds and other agricultural technologies in recent years. Crucially, these are seeds that are suited to Africa’s soil, weather and needs— they hold tremendous promise for Africa’s smallholder farmers. AGRA has been working with our partners across the continent: We have supplied 57,000 metric tons of seeds and released over 300 improved seed varieties. This partnership with USAID will enable us to scale up this work and ensure that even more smallholder farmers can benefit from these extraordinary technologies,” said Jane Karuku, President of AGRA.
By helping African farmers access improved seeds, inputs, and complementary technologies, the Scaling Seeds and Technologies Partnership helps boost agricultural productivity, food security, and economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa. To kick off its new coordination role, the Seeds and Technologies Partnership held an inaugural workshop this week in Nairobi, Kenya, where USAID and AGRA representatives consulted with key government, research, donor and private-sector partners on strategies for coordination and collaboration. These discussions mark the first in a series of in-depth, national-level dialogues on scaling up farmers’ access to agricultural innovations in New Alliance countries.
This press release originally appeared on the USAID website.
Addis Ababa—Sileshi Getahun, State Minister of Agriculture, and Dennis Weller, Mission Director of USAID Ethiopia, officially launched the “Land Administration to Nurture Development” (LAND) program today at a national meeting of land administration officials in Addis Ababa.
The program builds on previous USAID land administration and property rights projects from 2005-2013 and will operate in six regions of Ethiopia, on the federal level, and in collaboration with Ethiopian universities. The program will bolster land administration capacity in the country and will expand land certification for smallholder farmers in Agriculture Growth Program woredas. The new program will also work with pastoral communities on access to grazing land and water and to build resilience in drought-prone areas.
USAID Mission Director Dennis Weller discussed the strategic importance of land management to national development at the event: “Transparent and well-planned administration of land is critical to investments in food production, to equitable growth in the agriculture sector, to conservation of natural resources, and, last but not least, to peace and progress for the vast number of Ethiopian women and men who reside and work in rural areas.”
Under the U.S. President’s Feed the Future initiative, the LAND project is implemented by TetraTech-Associates in Rural Development with local partners including Haramaya and Bahir Dar Universities. It has an estimated value of 11 million USD.
This article originally appeared on the USAID Mission Ethiopia website.
CAP HAITIEN, Haiti—The U.S. Agency for International Development yesterday launched the Feed the Future North (FTFN) project which is supported by USAID under Feed the Future, the U.S. Government’s global hunger and food security initiative. The new FTFN is an innovative project to spur economic growth in promising agricultural areas in northern Haiti while at the same time developing local firms to be direct USAID partners.
FTFN was developed in cooperation with the Government of Haiti Ministry of Agriculture. It aims to increase agricultural incomes for at least 40,000 rural households in northern Haiti, expand financial services to local agribusinesses, stabilize watersheds that support farmland, and improve roads in some of the most fertile but inaccessible farming areas. A key project component aims to increase the number of local Haitian firms who participate as direct contracting partners.
“The North is a key region of Haiti. Working here on food security benefits the entire country. We will be working alongside the Ministry of Agriculture to increase agricultural production and improve farmers’ lives,” said Ambassador to Haiti Pamela A. White at the project’s announcement, which was also attended by Haiti President Michel Martelly.
The new Feed the Future North is a five-year, $88 million project that will focus on expanding farmers’ yields of primarily five key crops—corn, beans, rice, plantains and cocoa. The program is innovative. In addition to traditional farmer support, erosion protection, and investments in agricultural infrastructure, it will seek to employ new technology—including mobile money—to make it easier for farmers and agribusinesses to manage their transactions, and cellphones to transmit market and other information beneficial to farmers. The project will ensure that both women and men benefit from FTFN interventions.
FTFN comes on the heels of the successful Feed the Future West (FTFW) project that has reached more than 30,000 farmers to date in the Cul-de-Sac and St. Marc corridors outside of Port-au-Prince. The project has introduced improved seeds, fertilizer, and new technologies that have helped participating farmers substantially increase their crop yields and augment their gross incomes from some $200 per hectare to more than $1,100 per hectare. Additionally, in the wake of the 2012 drought and storms, FTFW contributed to the U.S. Government response to increased food insecurity in Haiti by rehabilitating important irrigation systems that were damaged by the storms.
The new Feed the Future North is projected to fund an additional approximately $40 million in local subcontracts and grants to Haitian implementing partners to support a Haitian-led process and to ensure the project’s long-term sustainability. These local partners will be charged with carrying out the project’s work for years to come.
“Agriculture is fundamental to Haiti’s economy,” said Mark Anthony White, Acting Mission Director of USAID/Haiti. “But to be effective, assistance must develop resilience, especially in Haiti where farmers are exposed to adversities such as flooding, drought and earthquakes. The Feed the Future North project is designed to do just that. It will help Haitians put in place local systems and infrastructure to help small farmers and the overall agribusiness to be successful.
“The project will also unleash the potential of some excellent farming areas.”
FTFN will cover six watersheds in the North and Northeast departments: Limbé, Haut du Cap, Grande Rivière du Nord, Trou du Nord, Marion and Jassa. It will be implemented by DAI as the lead contractor and a subcontracting team that includes Haitian firms Agridey and AgroConsult, the female-owned small business Making Cents, and Haitian-American small business PHS.
The project will be led by Chief of Party Cristian Juliard, who has 35 years of international experience, including significant experience in Haiti. He will be supported by Deputy Chief of Party Joanas Gué, a former Haitian Minister of Agriculture with 25 years of experience in food security and program development in Haiti.
This press release originally appeared on the USAID website.
This morning, my daughters ate a hearty breakfast. They had eggs, toast and a yogurt each. What do you think women and children in poverty-stricken regions throughout the world ate (or did they)?
I remember reading an article by Anap Shah a few years ago that I have never been able to get out of my head. The heading read, “Today, around 21,000 children died around the world.”
I was shocked! Living in a bubble, I rarely paid attention to how devastating the numbers were (about 1 child dying every 4 seconds)! Although written a few years ago, that article was the catalyst for my quest to learn more about global nutrition and its effect on women and children.
Anap Shah caused two conflicting emotions: First, relief that my children didn’t fall into one of those statistics. Second, sick to my stomach that I even felt that way!
Did you know that nearly 165 million children under 5-years-old suffer from undernutrition today? According to the Lancet medical journal, malnutrition contributes to 3.1 million under-five child deaths annually. The numbers are stunning but don’t have to be. The U.S. Government’s Feed the Future initiative, led by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), is dedicated to reducing them. It’s working towards building a better future for mothers and children.
Feed the Future, the U.S. Government’s global hunger and food security initiative, has already improved nutrition and helped people lead healthier lives in Zambia, Guatemala, Tanzania and more. Through Feed the Future in the past year alone, 12 million children have been positively affected — and that is just the beginning. Feed the Future shares their knowledge with the people in poverty-stricken locations and support country-owned programs addressing undernutrition. Their monthly newsletter is filled with information regarding their latest goals and progress.
USAID believes in integrating their approach on dealing with global health and nutrition by forging the right partnerships through initiatives like Feed the Future. USAID, on behalf of the U.S. Government, signed on to the global Nutrition for Growth Compact, and supports the Lancet Series on Maternal and Child Nutrition, which is chock filled with information about the importance of improving nutrition globally. Their goal is to ensure every child is given the best start possible in life.
The first 1,000 days from a woman’s pregnancy to a child’s second birthday are the most critical for a child’s development. By focusing on maternal health and young children, the U.S. Government through USAID and the Feed the Future initiative are striving to cut the death toll for children under 5 years old. Find out more about their goal and ways to help here.
This post originally appeared on the USAID blog.
Shivani Cotter is a writer, blogger and social media activist. Through her blog, TrendingMom.com, Shivani is dedicated to teaching others how to live positive and fulfilling lives as well as leaving a lovely legacy for her daughters.
Shivani is part of Mom Bloggers for Social Good, a global coalition of 1000+ mom bloggers, in 17 countries, who spread good news about the amazing work nonprofit organizations and NGOs are doing around the world.
Last week USAID Administrator Raj Shah joined the Advisory Committee on Voluntary Foreign Aid (ACVFA) to launch a working group focused on civil society collaboration under the Feed the Future initiative.
Co-chaired by David Beckmann of Bread for the World and Bruce McNamer of TechnoServe, the working group is tasked with developing an action plan for further deepening the engagement of civil society partners in Feed the Future. Read on to find out how you can provide input.
USAID—along with the nine other agencies that make up the Feed the Future initiative—recognizes that achieving sustainable solutions to global challenges such as hunger requires us to work in close collaboration with countries, citizens, partners, and the wider development community in almost every facet of our work. Partnership with civil society brings in expertise and awareness that allows our development efforts to have a broader impact and helps us use U.S. taxpayer dollars more efficiently and effectively as we pursue our development goals.
With this in mind, we’re excited to work with this diverse group of advisors to deepen and broaden the impact of the U.S. Government’s Feed the Future initiative. We know our civil society partners here in the United States and overseas have been looking for more formal avenues to input into Feed the Future and we look forward to incorporating additional voices and widening the scope of participants and stakeholders in this process.
Through the action plan, the working group seeks to strengthen collective progress toward the specific goals and focal areas of Feed the Future. (If you’re not familiar with them, you can find them outlined on the Feed the Future website.)
We’ve narrowed the scope of the working group by outlining five key areas where the U.S. Government is eager to hear from nongovernmental organizations, implementing partners, and other private voluntary organizations working to fight hunger and undernutrition.
The task of the working group will be to identify a set of five to ten actions within these areas where greater collaboration will maximize Feed the Future’s impact.
These key areas are:
The questions and comments raised by audience members at the launch of the Feed the Future working group were insightful and thought-provoking, and we’re sure there are plenty more. Now is your chance to weigh in on what you believe to be issues of high priority. The working group wants to hear from you.
Send your comments on the above items to ACVFA@usaid.gov and we’ll make sure your thoughts get to the working group members.
Sweet potato packed with extra vitamin A; corn that tolerates drought; rice that grows better in African climates; smartphones that provide extension services.
Agricultural technology is a major part of the Obama Administration’s efforts to improve people’s access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food, something known as food security.
And the U.S. Government’s main vehicle to strengthen food security is called Feed the Future, an umbrella of programs that began in 2010, not long after global food prices spiked, sparking riots and causing real crises for hundreds of millions of people.
Feed the Future, and the $3.5 billion dollars President Obama pledged towards it, represent the common belief that any serious attempt to fight hunger and end poverty requires a renewed focus on agriculture.
This podcast originally appeared in the May/June 2013 edition of USAID FrontLines.
A new method for growing crops in Haiti is starting to take root. A “greenhouse revolution,” introduced by USAID, is bearing exceptional harvests, increasing incomes and countering environmental degradation.
The use of greenhouses is a common practice in many countries but unknown in Haiti until recently. Participating farmers, who previously were ready to abandon their increasingly challenging trade, are producing larger yields and are trading their produce more efficiently and for higher profits. That bounty includes lettuce, broccoli, peppers, tomatoes, leeks, beets, carrots, strawberries and flowers such as chrysanthemums and gladioli. These are now sold locally to supermarkets, hotels, restaurants and farmers markets.
About 60 percent of Haitians depend on agriculture for their income. But making ends meet is difficult and, until recently, agricultural productivity has systematically declined over the last three decades. The January 2010 earthquake prompted the Government of Haiti and its partners, including the U.S. Government, to put into place a new, comprehensive development strategy for guiding medium-term agricultural investments. USAID contributes through Feed the Future, the U.S. Government’s global hunger and food security initiative, as a major part of this effort.
In 2012, a drought, a tropical storm and a hurricane exacerbated agricultural development challenges, with flooding and mudslides washing away fields and vegetation. These catastrophes dovetailed with environmental degradation due to a longstanding practice of cutting down trees for agricultural land and to use as charcoal for cooking.
Farmers like Michel Dorlean, a flower producer, struggled financially. The horticulturalist grew up learning the family business of planting flowers on traditional hillside plots in his mountainous village of Furcy. The hillside locations leave flowers vulnerable to excessive heat, wind, humidity and rain. Dorlean used to lose a portion of his yields to weather.
But last year, his battered flower plots flourished into a profitable business thanks to greenhouse activities spurred by Feed the Future West, a USAID-supported project under Feed the Future.
Continue reading this article in the May/June 2013 edition of USAID FrontLines.