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Working with African Communities to Build a Future Free from Hunger

By Chief of Staff

Feed the Future is a country-led initiative, which means we help countries pursue their own priorities for agricultural development. Our partnership with country governments to reduce hunger and poverty is essential; but equally important is our work with the farmers, entrepreneurs, and civil society organizations who are improving food security in their own communities. Read on to learn how the U.S. African Development Foundation helps give these communities the tools they need to build a brighter future free from hunger.

For decades, the U.S. African Development Foundation (USADF) has helped build pathways to prosperity, supporting African-led development that grows community enterprises by providing seed capital and technical assistance. Food security and economic growth are priorities for all our grant-making at the grassroots level, including in nine Feed the Future focus counties, where USADF strives to extend the initiative’s reach into communities that are otherwise underserved.

Among the groups we work with are some of food security’s unsung heroes: the smallholder farmers who grow nutritious crops to feed their families; young people who are rapidly shaping the future of the African continent; and women and girls who often lack equal opportunity, but whose empowerment could help reduce hungry people in the world by up to 150 million.[1]

Our grassroots approach aims to strengthen African civil society by equipping communities to advance their own priorities for agricultural investment and entrepreneurship. One of the advantages of this unique model is that we are able to implement projects through local partners, who can provide on-the-ground technical expertise and support in remote areas where other organizations do not operate. Our support for these partners strengthens their organizational development as well as local markets.

USADF is building the capacity of rural farmer associations and food processors through small grants that can make a big difference in helping communities overcome the challenges of hunger and extreme poverty. Last year, USADF invested nearly $6 million in 46 food security projects, creating ripple effects for over 100,000 people.

The best part of this story is that it’s generating results for small-scale farmers like Korka Diaw, who has grown what started as a traditional savings group into Malal Yero, a successful women-led rice production and processing cooperative in Senegal’s River Valley. A Feed the Future grant from USADF enabled her to grow more rice and invest back in the business with new equipment, warehouse construction, training and marketing. “Our rice mill is fully occupied,” Diaw reported in 2014, less than a year after receiving the grant.

Emmanual Hamaro, a Mandela Washington Fellow supported by President Obama’sYoung African Leaders Initiative, received a USADF entrepreneurship grant to help expand his pig farm in central Tanzania. In addition to increasing the number of permanent structures on his farm, Hamaro is investing in a climate-smart drip irrigation system and starting up an academy to train and mentor local youth looking to pursue careers in the agriculture sector.

In Uganda, Gulu Community Dairy Farmers Cooperative Society Ltd increased its net income from sales by a whopping 221 percent after USADF signed an agreement with the government of Uganda to match investments in small-scale agricultural production and processing. Today, the cooperative directly benefits up to 212 farming families per year by sourcing raw milk from local dairy farmers.

And a Feed the Future grant from USADF is supporting over 3,000 members of the Katete District Women’s Development Association in eastern Zambia to build and expand small business enterprises selling groundnuts, which are high in protein and a good source of nutrition. The cooperative, which sources groundnuts from smallholder farmers and processes them into cooking oil, is using the grant to upgrade processing equipment and storage facilities, and selling its value-added goods directly to the community.

This type of targeted assistance is paramount to ensure food security and nutrition for the poorest. Agriculture accounts for a third of Africa’s overall GDP and is poised to help propel major economic growth across the continent. Through smart investments and technical expertise, USADF directly supports the smallholder farmers at the heart of this growth, who can help achieve a more food-secure future for all.

Learn more about the U.S. African Development Foundation or read more blogs in this series.

[1] FAO. “Women in Agriculture: Closing the gender gap for development” in The State of Food and Agriculture. 2010-2011.

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