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Advocacy Group Applauds U.S. Role in Agricultural Development
May 1, 2012

By Kathryn McConnell
Staff Writer
30 April 2012

Washington — A major U.S. advocacy group has praised the government for advancing global food security.

“It is clear that the U.S. government has begun to develop and implement a focused strategy for global agricultural development with well-defined goals and benchmarks,” said Catherine Bertini, co-chair of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs’ Global Agricultural Development Initiative. The council reported its findings at an April 26 forum in Washington.

The U.S. progress is “especially notable given the deep recession and severe budget constraints of the past several years,” the council said in its 2012 Progress Report on U.S. Leadership in Global Agricultural Development.

Progress in agricultural development is led by the U.S. Agency for International Development through the Feed the Future program. It leverages strengths of agencies across the U.S. government, including the Department of State’s diplomatic resources; the Millennium Challenge Corporation’s financing of country-led agricultural and infrastructure projects; the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s research, training and analytic capabilities; the Department of the Treasury’s coordination with multilateral donors; the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative’s work to open world markets; the work of the African Development Foundation and Peace Corps in grass-roots development; and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation’s expertise in mobilizing private capital.

According to a State Department blog posting, in Haiti, farmers are increasing their incomes and conserving the environment by improving their plantain production. In Guatemala, smallholder farmers — many of them women — are benefiting from increased access to loans, markets, training and technology to advance food security and economic opportunity.

In Uganda, the devastating effects of vitamin and mineral deficiencies are being addressed through an initiative to increase the nutritional value of common foods. Ghanaian farmers are improving grain storage practices, helping to reduce post-harvest losses. And in Bangladesh, rural agriculture workers are using research findings to diagnose and control plant pests and diseases that devastate crops.

The council stressed the need for continued support for agricultural development.

“The challenge in the years to come will be to maintain this level of leadership and resourcing for the decade or more needed to bring tangible benefits to the developing world’s agriculturalists and to our global food security,” said Dan Glickman, the Chicago Council initiative’s other co-chair.

Bertini is a former executive director of the U.N. World Food Programme. Dan Glickman is a former secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The progress report was the second in a series of annual reports assessing progress in the U.S. strategy to address food security.