The following is an excerpt from testimony by Feed the Future Deputy Coordinator for Development Tjada McKenna before the Senate Foreign Relationship International Development Subcommittee. Read her full remarks on the USAID website.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) recently released a report estimating that there are now approximately 870 million hungry people in the world, 98 percent of them living in developing countries. While these numbers have adjusted down from recent estimates, it is still 870 million too many.
Compounding this problem, research indicates that by the year 2050, the world's population is projected to increase by 38 percent to more than 9 billion, which, combined with changing diets, will require up to a 60 percent increase in food production to feed us all. We confront these challenges in a world that has less land and fewer resources available for production.
Against this backdrop, at the 2009 G-8 Summit, President Obama pledged to provide at least $3.5 billion over three years—between Fiscal Year 2010 and Fiscal Year 2012—to attack the root causes of global hunger and poverty through accelerated agricultural development and improved nutrition. The U.S. Government’s commitment leveraged more than $18 billion in additional support from other donors, creating the financial capacity to significantly reduce the number of people living in extreme poverty and suffering from hunger and undernutrition.
This commitment to the importance of agriculture in sustainably reducing hunger and poverty could not have come at a more important time. For more than two decades, funding for agriculture had been on the decline, leaving the world ill-prepared to cope with the growing challenge of food insecurity. In 2007 and 2008, soaring prices for basic staples coupled with shortsighted policy responses, like export bans and panic buying, had set the world on edge. But it also convinced global leaders that it was finally time to do things differently.
In September 2012, the U.S. Government met President Obama’s $3.5 billion pledge. In fact, we have now obligated $3.786 billion and disbursed $1.134 billion against the President’s pledge. And while we are proud of the United States’ leadership and commitment in this effort, there is still so much more to be done.
Feed the Future expands the United States’ impact as a political and moral force in the fight against global hunger and poverty. With a focus on smallholder farmers, particularly women, this initiative supports countries in developing their agriculture sectors as a catalyst to generate opportunities for broad-based economic growth and trade, which can support increased incomes and help reduce hunger.
While we recognize the importance of providing food aid and other humanitarian assistance during crises to save lives and protect livelihoods, Feed the Future helps promote a lasting solution to hunger through a commitment to agricultural growth and other actions to prevent recurrent food crises. Feed the Future also integrates nutrition interventions to ensure that our investments lead to both improved agriculture and better health, and supports conflict mitigation and good governance efforts that are required to achieve the goals of reducing poverty and undernutrition.
When Feed the Future was launched, the President asked that we do things differently to get better results for every taxpayer dollar invested in this effort. We have taken that directive to heart, and are proud of the many ways we are working toward that goal.
November 17, 2012, Adama, Oromia—As part of President Obama’s Feed the Future Initiative in Ethiopia, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) launched a new five-year project called “Livestock Market Development” in support of the Government of Ethiopia’s Agricultural Growth Plan (AGP). State Minister of Agriculture Sileshi Getahun and USAID Ethiopia Mission Director Dennis Weller presided over the launch attended by federal and regional government officials, livestock industry representatives, and implementing partners.
The AGP-Livestock Market Development project will improve smallholder farmer incomes and nutritional status through investments in livestock value chains including beef, dairy, and hides. The project is expected to generate 2,600 new on and off farm jobs and improve the livelihoods of some 200,000 households.
Through a focus on production and marketing, the project will improve animal feed systems, expand animal healthcare services and improve animal breeding while also linking producers to end markets, enhancing sanitary standards for animals and plants, and increasing market competitiveness.
USAID Mission Director Dennis Weller asserted, “Through the AGP-Livestock Market Development project, USAID, working closely with Ethiopia’s government and the livestock sector, will benefit small scale producers and rural communities by raising incomes, improving nutrition, creating livestock-related jobs and providing improved access to animal health services and to markets.”
The project, valued at $38 million, will operate in selected districts in Amhara, Oromia, Tigray and Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples (SNNP) regions. CNFA (formerly the Citizen’s Network for Foreign Affairs) will lead implementation of the project for USAID along with other partners in each region: Organization for Rehabilitation and Development in Amhara (ORDA), Relief Society of Tigray (REST), Hundee, and Self Help Africa-Ethiopia. The U.S. President’s Emergency Program for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) contributed funding to the project to ensure benefits will also extend to livestock producers and laborers affected by HIV/AIDS.
This press release originally appeared on the USAID Mission Ethiopia website.
The following is an excerpt from USAID Administrator Shah's remarks at the Bread for the World conference in November 2012. Read his full remarks on the USAID website.
It is hard to believe that just three years ago, President Obama first introduced the global food security initiative Feed the Future. It all felt so new at the time, because it was new.
It represented a new model of development, which has, in many ways, come to define the way we work around the world today. A model that advances a far deeper focus on science, technology, and innovation to dramatically expand the realm of what is possible in development. A model that engages far more broadly with private sector partners—putting behind us an old reluctance to work together and engaging companies not as wellsprings of corporate charity, but as real partners with an interest in serving the needs of the most vulnerable. And a model that delivers more for our partners, but demands far more as well.
Today, we see this model at work across our efforts in food security. We see it in our new emphasis on developing cutting-edge agricultural technologies that are sowing economies with the seeds they need to grow.
In Bangladesh, an innovation in fertilizer called deep urea placement has transformed over 600,000 hectares of land and led to the first-ever rice surplus in the country’s poorest state.
And in East Africa, vitamin A-rich orange-fleshed sweet potatoes are reaching tens of thousands of households, protecting kids from diseases and improving nutrition.
USAID's Ghana Mission is requesting proposals for a five-year contract to provide technical assistance to the Resiliency in Northern Ghana (RING) project, under the Feed the Future initiative. The project is designed to contribute to Government of Ghana efforts to sustainably reduce poverty and improve the nutritional status of vulnerable populations in the Northern Region of Ghana.
Consistent with USAID Forward principles of direct support to host governments to the maximum extent possible, RING's interventions will be implemented through a collaborative approach with the District Assemblies (DAs) in Northern Region and with the Northern Region Coordinating Council (NRCC). For eligible DAs, USAID support will be directly to the DAs and for DAs not yet eligible for direct funding, the Contractor will provide technical assistance for the achievement of RING objectives while building the capacity of the DA.
The project will fund up to 17 district governments in the Northern Region of Ghana for activities including income and diet diversification, access to credit, and health education messages. It will be implemented using a rigorous impact evaluation that will evaluate the relative contribution of income growth and smoothing strategies and consumption smoothing strategies to reducing vulnerability and improving nutrition versus the impact of integrated nutrition and economic growth interventions.
In February 2012, USAID's Bureau for Food Security Assistant to the Administrator Paul Weisenfeld and USAID Ghana Mission Director Cheryl Anderson signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Ghana's Northern Regional Minister, the Honorable Moses Bukari Mabengba, to officially launch this Feed the Future Ghana resilience and nutrition project.
Applications are due by January 7, 2013. For more details, visit fbo.gov and search SOL-641-12-000005.
WASHINGTON—Feed the Future’s new Partnering for Innovation program formally launched today at the Ronald Reagan International Trade Center in Washington, DC. The program, supported through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Fintrac Inc., aims to engage the private sector and put transformational technologies into the hands of smallholder farmers in developing countries to quickly and sustainably improve their productivity and incomes.
"By fostering partnerships and promoting innovation, we can help unlock the potential of small-scale farmers and catalyze broad-based economic growth and trade to advance global food security," said Tjada McKenna, Feed the Future’s Deputy Coordinator for Development.
Senior leaders from agribusiness companies, the United States Government, research organizations, and the development community gathered at the event, which outlined the Feed the Future Partnering for Innovation program’s four primary components. These include an emphasis on identifying, promoting, and commercializing agricultural technologies for smallholder farmers; developing robust industry partnerships with private and public sector markets; capturing best practices for effective engagement; and managing knowledge and promoting partnerships. These efforts directly support Feed the Future’s goal of reducing global poverty and undernutrition.
"Fintrac is proud to support this effort to engage the commercial sector in a way that will, most importantly, make an impact on millions of smallholder farmers," said Claire Starkey, Fintrac President.
About Feed the Future
Feed the Future is the U.S. Government’s global hunger and food security initiative. With a focus on smallholder farmers, particularly women, Feed the Future is establishing a foundation for lasting progress against global hunger by supporting countries in developing their agriculture sectors to spur economic growth that increases incomes and reduces hunger, poverty, and undernutrition. Feed the Future efforts are driven by country-led priorities and rooted in partnership with governments, donor organizations, the private sector, and civil society to enable long-term success.
USAID is an independent agency that provides economic, development and humanitarian assistance around the world in support of the foreign policy goals of the United States. Spending less than one-half of 1 percent of the federal budget, USAID works in over 100 countries to promote broad-scale human progress at the same time it expands stable, free societies, creates markets and trade partners for the United States, and fosters good will abroad.
Fintrac is a woman-owned and U.S.-based consulting company that develops agricultural solutions to address hunger and poverty. For more than 20 years, Fintrac has worked with local and global partners to increase production, improve post-harvest handling, add value, and develop markets and competitive value chains for the world’s most vulnerable farmers and communities.
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is seeking applications for Assistance Agreements from all U.S. and non-U.S. qualified organizations for funding to support the $15.5 million Feed the Future Agriculture Technology Transfer Project in Ghana.
The overall goal of the project is to provide technical assistance and capacity building for increasing the availability of agricultural technologies to increase and sustain productivity in Northern Ghana.
The project has three intermediate results:
1. Increased private sector share in developing and disseminating improved seed and Integrated Soil Fertility Management (ISFM) technologies
2. Increased efficiency and transparency of government functions to support seed, fertilizer and ISFM technology development and dissemination
3. Increased efficiency of targeted agriculture research that supports sustainable agricultural productivity
Applications are due by December 14, 2012 at 11 a.m. For more details, visit grants.gov and search RFA-641-13-00000.
"Were it not for FIPS-Africa, I would have been married at the age of 19," says 22-year old Dorcas Nyangasi, from Emuhaya, Western Kenya.
"I missed whole school terms because there was no money to pay the fees. I saw my parents struggle and I wanted to reduce the burden on them. Like many young girls in the village, I thought about marriage as a way out," she says. Now, thanks to an innovative agriculture program, Nyangasi is successfully self-employed providing farm inputs and training to local farmers.
Farm Input Promotions-Africa (FIPS-Africa) is a nonprofit company that uses an innovative approach to supply appropriate inputs, and advice on how to use them, to thousands of farmers quickly and cost-effectively, at the same time creating self-employment opportunities.
Young people in rural areas have trouble finding paid work. In January 2010, Nyangasi’s life was transformed when she became a Village Based Advisor (VBA). The VBAs provide inputs, services and advice on best farming practices. For example, VBAs distribute small packs of improved seed varieties to give farmers the chance to try out new varieties on their own shambas, or small farms.
If farmers like the new varieties, they come back to the VBA to buy them next season. This motivates the VBAs to reach more farmers. "Within the first four months I noticed that I could make more money when I approached more farmers, so I expanded my operations to three more villages in Emuhaya district," Nyangasi says.
An energetic VBA like Nyangasi can earn 10,000 Kenyan shillings, ($125) per month by selling small seed packs, seedlings and by vaccinating chickens.
On behalf of the American people, USAID is investing in FIPS-Africa to train more village-based advisors like Nyangasi. The program, which is part of the U.S. Government's global hunger and food security initiative, known as Feed the Future, is helping young women like Nyangasi break the cycle of poverty.
With her earnings as a VBA, Nyangasi has been able to support her family. "I bought my sister’s school uniform, costing 2,500 shillings ($30), and paid her tuition fees. Nothing makes me as happy as knowing that I touched her life in a special way. My sister is now in her final year at Esalwa Secondary School," Nyangasi says.
This story originally appeared on the USAID Mission Kenya website.
Greenhouse technology allows farms to harvest fruits and vegetables in late winter and early spring, when the products can fetch a premium price on the local market.
In Tajikistan, greenhouses are rare. Those which do exist are constructed with very basic technology or have deteriorated to a point where they are no longer productive.
The state of greenhouses in the country prevents domestic farms from growing enough early vegetables to meet domestic demand and makes it extremely difficult for local farms to compete with imported product. As a result, Tajik farms miss a critical opportunity to earn income from high value produce sold in the local markets.
During the Soviet Union, private farm Chairman, Fozilov Aslam, grew lemons in 0.81 hectares of greenhouses. After independence, Fozilov did not have the financial resources or technical expertise to maintain his greenhouses. The lack of investment significantly reduced the efficiency of the structures. In order to rebuild this important source of revenue, Fozilov applied to the USAID Productive Agriculture Project to support him in the reconstruction of his greenhouses.
After a competitive selection process, Fozilov was awarded a grant from the USAID Productive Agriculture Project to rehabilitate his greenhouses. The Project granted 30 percent of the funds needed for reconstruction while Fozilov invested 70 percent of his own money to install energy efficient coal heating systems. The coal systems will allow the greenhouses to function in an area where electricity and gas power are not reliable.
With USAID assistance, the new heating systems were installed in December 2011, allowing Fozilov to plant tomatoes and cucumbers for the 2012 early vegetable season. In 2012, Fazilov sold 5.5 tons of tomatoes and 2 tons of cucumbers, increasing his farm’s income by 51 percent from the previous year. With the increased profits, Fozilov has invested in a combine harvester and begun to reconstruct two additional greenhouses, which will also contribute to a sustainable increase in income in the years to come.
Fozilov Aslam told the USAID Productive Agriculture Project: "This greenhouse needs to be protected and multiplied to show that Tajik farmers can effectively use every piece of their land to increase their profits."
The USAID Productive Agriculture Project and the Khatlon Region Administration hosted an event in Qurghonteppa to celebrate the purchase of over 50 tractors by farms in the 12 western districts of the Khatlon Region, the target area for the U.S. Government's Feed the Future initiative.
U.S. Ambassador Susan Elliott and Regional Chairman Gaibullo Afzal opened the event and presented 10 dekhan farms with the keys to their new tractors. The event was attended by financial institutions, agriculture implement dealers, local district and jamoat authorities as well as many of the farmers who worked with the Project.
The USAID Productive Agriculture Project, in collaboration with Imon International and Eskhata bank, used a financing mechanism enabling farmers to access two-year loans for the purchase of tractors. Tractors were bought from the Madadi Tursunzoda farm machinery dealership with a combination of cash and credit. In addition, the USAID Productive Agriculture Project provided a grant of about 20 percent of the total cost of each tractor.
Access to machinery is essential for efficient and profitable agricultural production. A 2010 study by the International Finance Corporation using data from 2008 found that the number of tractors in Tajikistan had fallen to 43 percent of the 1991 level. The goal of the USAID Productive Agriculture Project’s machinery credit program is to create a financial mechanism through leading financial institutions enabling farms to finance their machinery needs.
The purchase of tractors celebrated at the event is an expansion of a successful 2011 pilot program between USAID Productive Agriculture Project and two other financial institutions, AgroInvestBank and Arvand. Farmers purchasing tractors are also working with a project to improve the production of winter onions in western Khatlon. This project is also intended to extend access to financing of machinery for smaller farms involved in orchard, vineyard, and hothouse vegetable production in this same part of the region.
The USAID Productive Agriculture Project in Tajikistan is one of the many assistance projects made possible by the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
This article originally appeared on the USAID Central Asian Republics Mission website.
Joseph Maina is one of the 700 members of the Kitiri Dairy Farmers Cooperative Society. He is a dairy farmer from Kinangop, Nyandarua County, and has worked closely with the USAID/Kenya Dairy Sector Competitiveness Program (KDSCP) since 2008.
Maina and his wife Beth Wangari invested in dairy farming to supplement their income. They have built a zero grazing unit and a feeds store, including a hay barn on their four-acre farm. Since then, milk production has doubled from 20 liters to over 50 liters a day. Zero grazing is a system of feeding cattle or other livestock, in which freshly cut forage is brought daily to animals that are permanently housed, instead of being allowed to graze.
Pleased with the results that he had achieved by applying the knowledge he had received from the USAID/Kenya Dairy Sector Competitiveness Program, Maina began helping other farmers from his area increase their milk production. The Kitiri Dairy Farmers Cooperative Society has since tripled its milk production from 2,000 liters a day, to 6,000 liters a day.
The USAID/Kenya Dairy Sector Competitiveness Program helps small-scale farmers organize themselves into dairy cooperatives in order to increase their bargaining leverage and incomes. A hundred and thirty five dairy cooperative societies have benefitted from the KDSCP program and Kitiri Dairy Farmers Cooperative Society is one of them. The Program also ensures that Kenyan milk meets domestic and international quality standards. Farmers that participate in this program are educated on ways to increase their milk productivity, by using high-quality formulated feeds and productivity-enhancing technologies like artificial insemination, to help them improve the quality of their herd.
Maina encourages members of the Kitiri Dairy Farmers Cooperative Society to participate in capacity building opportunities that are facilitated jointly with the KDSCP program. One such opportunity is the organized farmer-to-farmer exchange visits called the farmer field schools. The farmer field schools enables farmers to learn better farming practices while visiting farms that are already working with the KDSCP program.
Maina expects to boost his efforts in helping the members of the Kitiri Dairy Farmers Cooperative Society through; competitions organized between individual farmers and also between the various farmer field schools. His farm is one of the demonstration farms and is to be used as a farmer field school by the KDSCP program.
This story originaly appeared on the USAID Mission Kenya website.