U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Rajiv Shah announced on May 19 President Obama’s Feed the Future initiative has reached nearly 7 million smallholder farmers and helped save 12.5 million children from the threat of hunger, poverty, and malnutrition in the last year. Since its formation four years ago, ”Feed the Future has provided an excellent example of reducing poverty through integration – such as implementing new technologies, coordinating of health and education investments, along with facilitating access to markets – creating a major economic improvement in the lives of very poor rural families,” said Jacobo Paz, Minister of Agriculture for Honduras. “This model of development will be scaled up and used for our government in different new projects to reach our goals to sustainably reduce rural poverty.”
Currently, Feed the Future works in 19 focus countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean. In 2013, the initiative helped farmers and food producers use new technologies and management practices—such as high-yielding seed varieties—on approximately 9.9 million acres of land. “African leaders are making significant efforts to put agriculture at the center of their economic transformation strategies,” said Calestous Juma, Professor of International Development at Harvard Kennedy School. “By focusing on agricultural innovation, Feed the Future’s vision and activities are aligned with African aspirations. This policy congruence offers Africa and the U.S. the opportunity to sow the seeds of new agricultural diplomacy that is guided by mutual interest.”
USAID provided some examples of how Feed the Future works:
- In Bangladesh, reached 3.3 million smallholder farmers with improved seed, fertilizer and farm management practices, helping farmers increase rice yields by up to 20% and creating additional rice sales of $25 million.
- In Senegal, helped farmers produce enough rice to meet the consumption needs of more than 400,000 Senegalese for one year.
- In Honduras, moved more than 4,300 families well above the $1.25-per-day poverty line in part by increasing horticulture sales by 125%.
- Ethiopian company Guts Agro Industry developed a ready-to-use supplementary food made with specialty chickpeas sourced from 10,000 smallholder farmers, with plans to expand to 52,000 smallholders.
During the Feed the Future Global Forum, an event bringing together stakeholders and partners from around the world to highlight progress, USAID released the 2014 Future Progress Report. “The report underscores the great progress and potential of the program,” said David Beckmann, President of the Bread for the World and Bread for the World Institute. “Smart and targeted investments in improving smallholder agriculture, maternal and child nutrition, value chains and rural infrastructure are already transforming the lives of hungry and poor people. This is a down payment to global food and nutrition security.” The full 2014 Feed the Future Progress Report can be found online at https://www.feedthefuture.gov/progress