US Outlines New Approach to Global Food Security
What do development revolutions and Fall Armyworm mean for food security?
As the number of people facing hunger grows, the US' chief foreign body is stepping up its efforts to help people. On Oct. 19, the recently appointed USAID administrator Mark Green addressed the World Food Prize conference in Iowa to outline the government’s new approach to global food security.
During the event, administrator Green highlighted development revolutions that are vital for improving and ensuring food security, announced new partnerships, and called upon public and private institutions to help combat the spread of Fall Armyworm in Africa.
In 2016 alone, there were 815 million people without enough food. It is now more important than ever that Global Citizens maintain pressure on the US government, the private sector, and others to increase funding for food initiatives to help end malnutrition and starvation.
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The first development revolution Green referenced was the increased use of mobile technology. Platforms like Ignitia have enabled daily and seasonal forecasts to be sent via text message to over 320,000 recipients, he said, increasing awareness of dangerous weather conditions and heavy rain or drought, which is particularly important during growing seasons. Farmers, especially, can use this information and prepare their crops for changes in weather conditions, reducing the risk of crop failure. In Ethiopia, coffee sellers are now using electronic billboards to display the live market price of their goods, helping eliminate unfair bargaining strategies employed by middlemen.
Philanthropic investments by the private sector in Africa are another development that Green praised. As aid from philanthropy flows to the developing world and economies grow, the US government is able to be more targeted in its financial investments, making developing nations better trading partners.
“American businesses, have business in the developing world,” Green said.
Green then shifted focus to public and private sector collaboration, which is reinventing international development initiatives into sustainable and financially rewarding programs. In doing so, he announced two new partnerships with the Syngenta Foundation and Keurig Green Mountain and Root Capital.
The USAID partnership with the Syngenta Foundation will focus on distributing state of the art seed varieties to African farmers. These seeds will help remote farmers increase produce levels, enabling crops to be sold at affordable prices and improving food security. Collaboration with Keurig Green Mountain and Root Capital will improve credit access and business planning concepts for small scale coffee farmers, enhancing access to markets and private capital.
Ending his speech, Green made a call to action, asking for greater collaboration across sectors to help tackle the increased presence of Fall Armyworm in Africa. This pest feeds off foliage and burrows into the growing points of crops, causing perforation and destroying potential growth; it has also demonstrated resistance to most insecticides. With limited access to appropriate technologies, tools, and knowledge of management practices, the continued spread of the pest “has the potential to cause billions of dollars in damage and put hundreds of millions of lives at risk for hunger,” Green said.
It’s vital that the US continues its funding, but Green is right: the private sector and others should pitch in to help create and implement sustainable initiatives, ensuring everybody has adequate access to food.