These are the facts: 923 million people go to bed hungry most nights, 907 million of them in the developing world. That's 75 million people more than last year. This means that more undernourished mothers will give birth to malnourished children – a start in life that reduces the chances of success in school or work and contributes to an ongoing cycle of poverty. In this way hunger is cause as well as a consequence of poverty.
The United States believes that significantly reducing world hunger, and as a consequence poverty, is achievable. Helping small farmers increase food production in the countries most vulnerable to food shortages is a good start.
Dr. Josette Lewis, Senior Biotechnology Advisor of the Office of Environmental and Science Policy at the U.S. Agency for International Development, and the USAID's top agricultural official, said that the U.S. would like to "strengthen every link of the food-value chain." This could be done in a variety of ways, such as by making development loans, loan guarantees and grants available to small farmers; and by using new high-yield seeds that are resistant to diseases and drought. The U.S also supports more training programs in modern food production techniques for farmers in developing countries.
To facilitate the sharing of agricultural research and information, agricultural scientists and farmers from developing countries will come to the United States to learn from their U.S. counterparts. Local institutions and governments on every level can also help by adopting policies that can help expand regional trade expansion in farm products, such as improving roads and other infrastructure, and reducing or eliminating border checkpoints.
Many of these ideas can be put into practice without delay. Dr. Lewis points out that the key to sustainable poverty reduction is in the hands of the private sector. USAID is working with private-sector companies to identify ways to increase the effectiveness of both development assistance and private-sector investment in the developing world. Already a number of U.S. based companies have expressed interest in partnering with various organizations to help boost agricultural productivity and trade in developing countries.
Reversing the trend and reducing the number of people living in hunger and poverty around the world will require a strong international effort. The United States is doing its part.