A newly released Progress Report on U.S. Leadership in Global Agricultural Development, states that pivotal changes within the U.S. organizations that administer agricultural development assistance, such as the U.S. Agency for International Development, or USAID, have put the United States in the position to lead global efforts on food security.
One such change is a new emphasis on agricultural development and sustainability, as opposed to food aid alone. The Feed the Future Initiative, launched one year ago by the Administration of President Barack Obama, is an international effort aimed at helping countries develop their own agricultural sectors and fostering regional trade, so that food aid can be used for unforeseen catastrophes, rather than chronic food insecurity and predictable cycles of drought or flooding. In this way, Feed the Future advances global stability and prosperity by improving the most basic of human conditions: the need that families and individuals have for a reliable source of quality food and sufficient resources to purchase it.
Around the world, more than one seventh of the global population suffers from chronic hunger.
"We're seeing food prices hit all-time highs," said USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah. "As of March, the UN Food Price Index had climbed for eight consecutive months, setting new records along the way."
Nonetheless, today there is more reason than ever to be hopeful that we can finally end global hunger, said Dr. Shah. And that's because we are learning from our past mistakes and making corrections.
"While food aid remains important to save lives and end emergencies," said Dr. Shah, "... without a simultaneous long-term commitment to build local agricultural capacity, gains were short-lived and failed to get at the root causes of food insecurity," he said.
"Agriculture depends on the strength of public and private institutions working and investing together, building new markets and supply chains, . . . .and improving global economic potential."
So, to strengthen our efforts, we are partnering with the private sector, with universities and research facilities around the world, and with local governments.
"We've made a remarkable amount of progress in both our commitments and our programs," said Dr. Shah. "While we all know that addressing this problem will take long-term commitment and focus, [the Obama] Administration remains dedicated to building the kind of global political and economic support necessary [to finally defeat global hunger.]"