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2023 Borlaug Dialogue: Harnessing Change for Global Food Security

2023 Borlaug Dialogue: Harnessing Change for Global Food Security

Photo Credit: Rachel Mummey, WFPF 2023

For three days this October, USAID joined thousands of policy leaders, scientists, business executives, farmers and others from around the world in Des Moines, Iowa, for the 2023 Norman E. Borlaug International Dialogue, hosted by the World Food Prize Foundation. The annual symposium, known as the Borlaug Dialogue, brings together leading experts and practitioners to discuss cutting-edge issues related to global food security and nutrition.

As the premier annual event for the U.S. global food security and nutrition community, the Borlaug Dialogue is an important venue to elevate the actions and innovations needed for stronger and more resilient food systems. USAID Feed the Future Deputy Coordinator for Development and Assistant to the Administrator for Resilience, Environment, and Food Security Dina Esposito led the Agency’s delegation, delivering remarks and participating in a series of high-level panels and events with thought-leaders and key stakeholders.

This year’s Borlaug Dialogue theme – harnessing change – underscored how the global community can innovate and adapt in response to significant global shocks – from COVID-19 to protracted conflict – to build a more resilient, nutritious and inclusive food system for the future. In this spirit, Heidi Kühn of Roots of Peace was honored at the event as the 2023 World Food Prize Laureate award – frequently referred to as “the Nobel Prize for Agriculture” – for her efforts to revitalize farmland, food security, livelihoods, and resilience after devastating conflict.

Learn more about how USAID, through its leadership of the U.S. government’s Feed the Future initiative, is taking action on three major themes that emerged from this year’s Borlaug Dialogue:

Investing in Research to Meet New Challenges

Innovations drive the novel solutions needed to tackle the world’s greatest challenges in agriculture and food security. These solutions are needed more than ever to help vulnerable communities thrive in the face of more frequent and intense shocks and stresses. Feed the Future Innovation Labs – a network of labs at leading U.S. universities that collaborates with partner country research institutions – provides a pipeline to advance new solutions from research and development to ultimately the hands of farmers and families. At this year’s Borlaug Dialogue, Feed the Future announced the expansion of its Innovation Lab network, with the addition of two new Innovation Labs focused on climate-resilient cereals and irrigation, and a joint lab activity that will tackle Brucellosis, an infectious disease that can devastate livestock and have human health consequences.

Empowering Women to Transform Agri-Food Systems

The need to address the unique needs of women and girls affected by crises was woven through nearly every session, including a main stage session hosted by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). At this session, USAID Feed the Future Deputy Coordinator and Assistant to the Administrator for Resilience, Environment, and Food Security Dina Esposito underscored the need to empower women in agrifood systems if we are to end hunger and poverty and highlighted how USAID is working to achieve that through GROW – Generating Resilience and Opportunities for Women. Launched in April 2023, GROW tackles urgent challenges facing women in food and water systems, including climate change, while unlocking opportunities for women to advance economically — ultimately benefiting their families, communities and societies at large through improved food security, resilience and economic growth.

Expanding Impact through Public-Private Partnerships

When brought to the development table, public-private partnerships make for powerful “win-win” collaborations that are profitable for both companies and developmental organizations. With rising global food insecurity and hunger, it is more critical than ever that we harness private sector technology, know-how, and business acumen through strategic collaboration. Conservative estimates show that an investment of $33 billion of additional funding per year is needed to begin to reverse current trends and head back towards the Sustainable Development Goal of Zero Hunger. Through Feed the Future, USAID is actively engaging with companies and investors in a variety of ways, from reducing risks that roadblock catalytic investments to connecting business and farmers with new productivity-enhancing products and techniques.

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Taking Action for Women in Agrifood Systems

Women have always worked in agrifood systems, but these systems have not always worked for women. That’s because barriers have stood in their way, preventing them from making their fullest contributions. Last year, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) “Status of Women in Agrifood Systems” report showed us just how slow progress has been in closing the gender gap in agriculture over the past decade. Their access to irrigation, livestock, land ownership and extension services has barely budged over the past decade. Also, they are facing these challenges at a time of immense global shocks.

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