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U.S. Food Program Marks Progress Helping Farmers, Children
October 22, 2012

By Kathryn McConnell
IIP Staff Writer
October 19,  2012

A woman gathering grain
In Ghana, the Lolandi Women’s Cooperative buys, processes and exports rice, increasing market opportunities for members like this farmer.

The United States’ global food security program Feed the Future has helped 1.8 million food producers adopt improved technologies or management practices that can lead to more resilient crops, higher yields and increased incomes, according to the program’s first progress report.

Led by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Feed the Future brings together the private sector, nonprofit groups, women’s cooperatives and local communities to support new approaches to advance global food security. Feed the Future aims to reduce poverty by 20 percent and stunted children under 5 years old by 20 percent in its 20 focus countries.

“We have built some remarkable momentum since President Obama helped rally the world behind the need to dramatically reinvest in agriculture at the 2009 G8 Summit in L’Aquila, Italy,” said Rajiv Shah, USAID administrator. Shah released the report October 18 during World Food Prize events in Des Moines, Iowa. The report notes that Feed the Future has also reached nearly 9 million children through programs to prevent and treat malnutrition and improve child survival.

Shah highlighted several Feed the Future efforts.

He said Feed the Future will continue to support Solutions for African Food Enterprises, an alliance with the nonprofit Partners in Food Solutions that links the technical and business expertise of volunteer employees at companies General Mills, Cargill and DSM with small- and medium-sized food processors in developing countries.

Shah said USAID’s Development Credit Authority will partially back private loans made to small-holder farmer organizations, including those that contract with the World Food Programme’s Purchase for Progress initiative. That means those groups can use their contracts to obtain local, private financing.Shah also said that:

• USAID will support Root Capital, a nonprofit social investment fund, in its loans to small agricultural businesses in Africa. The support will allow the fund to provide more than $50 million in loans over five years to more than 1 million small-scale farmers to help them improve yields, reduce post-harvest losses and process nutritious foods.

• Feed the Future’s agricultural training and education program will strengthen the capacity of universities, and technical, vocational, secondary and primary schools, that focus on educating the next generation of agricultural professionals. It will also facilitate long-term collaboration between U.S. universities and developing country institutions, and support new public-private partnerships to advance climate-resistant cereals in Africa and South Asia.

• Feed the Future will continue to partner with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the African Women in Agricultural Research and Development fellowship program that so far has provided training to more than 250 women scientists from 11 African countries.

Feed the Future also involves the departments of State, Agriculture, Treasury and Commerce, the Peace Corps, the Millennium Challenge Corporation, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and the U.S. African Development Foundation.