Good morning Chairman Cardin, Ranking Member Corker, and Members of the Subcommittee. Thank you for inviting me to speak with you today. I am pleased and honored to be able to talk to you about the important role that the U.S. Government is playing to help reduce global hunger and poverty through the Feed the Future initiative, the challenges we face, and our progress thus far.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) recently released a report estimating that there are now approximately 870 million hungry people in the world, 98 percent of them living in developing countries. While these numbers have adjusted down from recent estimates, it is still 870 million too many. Compounding this problem, research indicates that by the year 2050, the world's population is projected to increase by 38 percent to more than 9 billion, which, combined with changing diets, will require up to a 60 percent increase in food production to feed us all. We confront these challenges in a world that has less land and fewer resources available for production.
Against this backdrop, at the 2009 G-8 Summit, President Obama pledged to provide at least $3.5 billion over three years – between Fiscal Year 2010 and Fiscal Year 2012 – to attack the root causes of global hunger and poverty through accelerated agricultural development and improved nutrition. The U.S. Government’s commitment leveraged more than $18 billion in additional support from other donors, creating the financial capacity to significantly reduce the number of people living in extreme poverty and suffering from hunger and undernutrition. This commitment to the importance of agriculture in sustainably reducing hunger and poverty could not have come at a more important time. For more than two decades, funding for agriculture had been on the decline, leaving the world ill-prepared to cope with the growing challenge of food insecurity. In 2007 and 2008, soaring prices for basic staples coupled with shortsighted policy responses, like export bans and panic buying, had set the world on edge. But it also convinced global leaders that it was finally time to do things differently.
In September 2012, the U.S. Government met President Obama’s $3.5 billion pledge. In fact, we have now obligated $3.786 billion and disbursed $1.134 billion against the President’s pledge. And while we are proud of the United States’ leadership and commitment in this effort, there is still so much more to be done.
Feed the Future expands the United States’ impact as a political and moral force in the fight against global hunger and poverty. With a focus on smallholder farmers, particularly women, this initiative supports countries in developing their agriculture sectors as a catalyst to generate opportunities for broad-based economic growth and trade, which can support increased incomes and help reduce hunger. While we recognize the importance of providing food aid and other humanitarian assistance during crises to save lives and protect livelihoods, Feed the Future helps promote a lasting solution to hunger through a commitment to agricultural growth and other actions to prevent recurrent food crises. Feed the Future also integrates nutrition interventions to ensure that our investments lead to both improved agriculture and better health, and supports conflict mitigation and good governance efforts that are required to achieve the goals of reducing poverty and undernutrition.
When Feed the Future was launched, the President asked that we do things differently to get better results for every taxpayer dollar invested in this effort. We have taken that directive to heart, and are proud of the many ways we are working toward that goal.
Just last month, the Administration released the first Feed the Future Progress Report and Scorecard, which present the progress achieved by Feed the Future from May 2009 through May 2012. The Report and Scorecard detail the strides that the initiative is making in research and development, leveraging private sector dollars, building capacity, and achieving key results to sustainably reduce hunger and poverty. The Progress Report shows that, by marshaling resources for food security and by improving the way we do development, Feed the Future aims to reduce the prevalence of poverty and the prevalence of stunted children under five years old by 20 percent in the geographic areas where we work.
We have already seen many successes. In Fiscal Year 2011 alone, Feed the Future helped 435,728 farmers in Bangladesh learn to apply deep fertilizer placement and urea briquettes, improving management practices on 244,605 hectares and leading to a 15 percent increase in rice yields. As a result, the country’s Barisal division experienced its first-ever rice surplus. Globally, in Fiscal Year 2011 we directly benefitted more than 6.6 million households, brought 2.4 million hectares of land under improved technologies or management practices, and increased investment in agricultural and rural loans by $103 million.
We are improving coordination in many ways. Feed the Future resources are aligned with country-led priorities. Donors can achieve more effective and lasting results when they champion the development visions and efforts of partner countries’ own governments and citizens. Feed the Future worked with other development partners to assist focus countries in creating and implementing their own multi-year Country Investment Plans (CIPs) for agricultural development, such as those under the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP). These plans are based on transparent and inclusive consensus-building processes, including engagement of the private sector, civil society and other stakeholders, and take into account the interests of women and other disadvantaged groups. In addition, these country-owned plans lay out priority areas, clear costing and projections of financial need, defined targets, and desired results.
Through Feed the Future, we are working hard to improve collaboration within the U.S. Government. Previous GAO reports have concluded that earlier U.S. Government efforts on food security lacked a cohesive interagency strategy. Much of Feed the Future’s durability as a new model stems from the creation of an overarching whole-of-government strategy, embedded in the Feed the Future Implementation Guide, to combat food insecurity and undernutrition. Feed the
Future has been successful in implementing that strategy, joining the resources and expertise of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, State and Treasury, the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), the U.S. African Development Foundation, the Peace Corps, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. This is the first time that we have effectively connected all U.S. Government efforts targeted at global hunger and food security and underpinned our resources with rigorous systems to track performance. In Fiscal Year 2011, five of these agencies reported into the Feed the Future Monitoring System, enabling us to create a government-wide picture of the results of our combined efforts.
Feed the Future is showing that interagency partnerships can work and be successful. As the initiative’s Deputy Coordinator for Development, I work closely with my counterpart at the State Department, Deputy Coordinator for Diplomacy Jonathan Shrier, to ensure that all of the agencies involved are integrated into the initiative via a cohesive, coordinated strategy both here in Washington and on the ground in Feed the Future focus countries. For example, with over half of its total investment portfolio supporting food security, MCC’s experience has helped guide Feed the Future’s program design, particularly on land tenure and property rights, infrastructure, monitoring and evaluation, and gender integration. MCC and USAID are working closely to complement and build on each other’s food security investments. In Ghana, for example, USAID will support three MCC-funded post-harvest Agribusiness Centers, benefitting about 3,000 farmers. And in Senegal, USAID will support MCC’s investment in irrigated agriculture and roads by promoting value chains, soil management, access to credit, post-harvest facilities, capacity training, quality standards, and marketing in the same geographical areas.
We know that neither the U.S. Government nor partner governments can do this work alone. Civil society organizations in donor and partner countries bring a wealth of ideas, energy and resources to the fight against global food insecurity and undernutrition and are critical to the success of Feed the Future. Their work complements the work of governments, multilateral organizations, and the private sector – including program implementation, product delivery, advocacy, education, and even funding. We value our close relationship with these partners. This relationship was highlighted by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who recently announced at a Feed the Future event that InterAction, an alliance of 198 U.S.-based organizations, has pledged more than $1 billion of private, nongovernmental funds over the next three years to improve food security and nutrition worldwide. We look forward to working with them on key food security issues.
Likewise, the importance of the private sector’s role in food security cannot be overemphasized. The private sector brings the necessary investment and needed technology for countries, communities and citizens to create opportunities for new businesses, stronger farms, and more vibrant markets. Our strategic alliances with the private sector align their core business interests with our development objectives. These “win-win” partnerships advance the impact of sustainable development and foster private sector-led growth in emerging markets, critical to reducing poverty, fighting hunger, and improving nutrition. The U.S. Government will further its partnership with the private sector through participation in the G-8’s New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, which has already mobilized more than $3.5 billion in new private sector commitments from more than 70 African and international firms looking to expand their agriculture-related business across Africa. The U.S. Government will also mobilize private sector investments through its contribution to the World Bank-housed Global Agriculture and Food Security Program’s Private Sector Window, which offers loans, equity capital, and advisory services.
A Focus on Women and Smallholder Farmers
In addition to improving coordination within and across sectors, Feed the Future is doing development differently by integrating important cross-cutting issues in all of our work, for example, by focusing on women as part of the solution. Women play a vital role in advancing agricultural development and food security. They participate in all aspects of rural life—in paid employment, trade and marketing, as well as in tending crops and animals, collecting water and wood for fuel, and caring for family members. Yet women have less access than men to land, financing, production inputs, technical assistance, and other resources that could help them become better producers and providers for their families. The FAO estimates that if women had the same access to productive resources as men, they could increase farm yields by 20 to 30 percent, translating to enough food to feed an additional 150 million people. To better empower women agricultural producers to reach their full potential, Feed the Future promotes women’s leadership in agriculture, fosters policy changes that increase women’s land ownership, and strengthens their access to financial services. Through the initiative, female farmers are encouraged to adopt new agricultural technology aimed at increasing productivity and reducing unpaid work. To measure how well our investments are tracking against this ambitious goal, Feed the Future, in collaboration with the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative of Oxford University, launched the Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index in early 2012. The index is the first tool to measure women’s growing role in decision-making about agricultural production; their growing ownership of land, livestock and other resources; their leadership in the community; and their control of time and income.
We also continue working toward equal, non-discriminatory and secure land rights in the areas in which we work. Across the developing world, farmers, particularly smallholders, face challenges securing their rights to land and other natural resources. This may limit their ability to keep others off their land; limit their incentives to improve land or adopt new technologies; limit their ability to leverage resources most effectively; and hinder development of shared usage arrangements, for example, between herders and farmers. Around the world, weak land governance systems contribute to political, social and economic instability. By formalizing the rights of land and resource users and by making land governance systems and institutions more accountable, accessible and transparent, positive incentives to conserve resources and put them to productive and sustainable use will be created. Under Feed the Future, we encourage governments and private sector investors to recognize and respect the legitimate rights of individuals, communities and legal entities, whether held formally or through custom, to manage, benefit from the use of, and trade rights to land and other resources. Formalizing these rights will foster a more secure and stable enabling environment to support economic growth and improved agricultural productivity. The United States has played a leading role on international negotiations for political instruments to promote sound resource governance policies; notably, a USAID official served as the international chair of the negotiations at the FAO’s Committee for
World Food Security for the Voluntary Guidelines for Responsible Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests. The United States is also a leading voice in the development of the Principles for Responsible Agricultural Investment.
The Feed the Future initiative also actively integrates nutrition and agriculture interventions. Studies show that strong nutrition early in life contributes to human and economic capacity through improved learning and productivity, and contributes to a robust, capable workforce. Strong nutrition – particularly during the 1,000-day window from pregnancy to a child’s second birthday – contributes to economic growth and poverty reduction. Strong nutrition also promotes gender equality and opportunities for women and girls, lessens susceptibility to other deadly diseases, and is critical to national prosperity, stability and security. Feed the Future supports food value chains that have high nutritional benefits and works with families to improve not only agricultural productivity and income, but also dietary diversity. We are also working hand-in-glove with our global health teams to identify and strengthen linkages between agriculture and nutrition. On a programmatic level, we are implementing both Feed the Future and global health activities in the same geographic zones to maximize results. In Fiscal Year 2011, 8.8 million children under five were reached by Feed the Future-supported nutrition programs.
We continue to work to improve and increase our impact in this area. During a high-level meeting on the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement at the UN General Assembly this year, USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah announced that the agency needed to do more to ensure that the principles and programmatic priorities of SUN are fully integrated across all relevant USAID-supported programs in the 14 countries where SUN, Feed the Future, and global health efforts overlap: Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guatemala, Haiti, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Nepal, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia.
Utilizing New Technology and Research
Feed the Future is also focusing on research as a key to transforming rural agriculture economies. We cannot expect to increase global food production by 2050 without the development of new technologies and practices to produce more with fewer inputs. In May 2011, the U.S. Government released a new Feed the Future research strategy informed by a consultative, multi-stakeholder process led by USAID, in close collaboration with USDA and university partners. As part of the new strategy, Feed the Future has better aligned all U.S. Government agency research programs to improve resource efficiency and generated new relationships with the private sector. In one major push, USAID and USDA are working together on high-impact research to combat wheat rust, a major threat to wheat production worldwide, and aflatoxin, a toxic fungus that infects many crops and causes illness.
We are moving research results from the laboratory to the field. In Fiscal Year 2011 alone, Feed the Future helped 1.8 million food producers to adopt improved technologies or management practices that can lead to more resilient crops, higher yields, and increased incomes.
This research strategy takes into account the critical challenge that climate change poses to food production around the world. As carbon dioxide concentrations rise, global temperatures are increasing, precipitation patterns are changing, and ocean acidification is on the rise. These changes are already affecting agriculture and food security directly. Feed the Future is working in concert with the U.S. Global Climate Change Initiative to develop strategies and undertake research to help food producers both reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change so that food security can be increased despite changing climate patterns.
Feed the Future strategies are designed not only to accelerate agriculture-led growth and reduce undernutrition, but also to encourage sustainable management of land, water, fisheries and other resources. Poor land use and agricultural practices are common factors that increase the vulnerability of developing countries to global threats such as water scarcity and pandemic disease. A core focus of the Feed the Future research agenda is sustainable intensification, the concept of producing more agricultural output from the same area of land while reducing negative environmental consequences. Feed the Future integrates environmental concerns into our investments and builds the capacity of partner countries to take advantage of opportunities in effective resource management and proactive adaptation to environmental challenges. Climate-smart agriculture practices like conservation agriculture and agroforestry enable the capture and storage of water and nutrients in soil to support plant growth and conserve soil. For example, Feed the Future is leveraging resources to better inventory and track land resources for agriculture and is building capacities with host governments and other partners to geospatially map land cover and land use for integrated management of watersheds.
We are working to ensure that these great strides achieved in research are sustainable. To do that, it is critical that we work to develop the next generation of agricultural leaders. Through Feed the Future’s Borlaug 21st Century Leadership Program, the U.S. is helping to train individuals and strengthen developing country public and private institutions, enabling them to take advantage of scientific and technological breakthroughs to promote innovation across the agricultural sector. The program will provide short-term training to over 2,500 students, researchers and agricultural leaders; provide fellowships and mentoring to nearly 1,000 agricultural researchers; provide full fellowships to 75 M.S. or Ph.D. students; and improve more than 60 institutions in Africa, which will in turn affect over 250,000 students.
Building Resilience and Sustainability
Collectively, these efforts are all meant to help build up the long-term resilience of communities so that they are able to adapt to and recover from shocks and stresses and move forward with enhanced livelihoods. A recent DFID study showed for every $1 spent on resilience, $2.80 of benefits is gained through avoided aid and animal losses. By supporting stronger markets, better infrastructure, and new technologies, Feed the Future will help build resilience and equip communities with the tools, the knowledge, and the enabling environment to thrive in times of prosperity, and to overcome difficulties in times of hardship. With clear lessons learned from our response in the Horn of Africa drought last year, as an agency USAID is doing business differently to build resilience among vulnerable communities in the Horn and elsewhere to ensure continued growth by bringing our relief and development teams together for joint assessments of local needs. USAID’s Bureau for Food Security, which leads Feed the Future, is working closely with the USAID Food for Peace program and the Bureau for Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance to integrate resilience programming to help communities better prepare for, respond to, and bounce back from crises when they do occur. While we cannot prevent future shocks from occurring, we can help make them less devastating while ensuring the continuation of long-term growth.
Holding Ourselves Accountable
Finally, Feed the Future is doing things differently by measuring results and holding ourselves accountable through rigorous monitoring and evaluation. To do this, we have created the Feed the Future Results Framework, which establishes the goals and objectives of the initiative, linking standard performance indicators to desired results. In addition, the Feed the Future Monitoring System collects information on the Results Framework’s baselines, targets and results.
Following MCC’s model of conducting rigorous analysis during project design, USAID has adopted cost-benefit analysis to help improve resource allocation, quantify the expected benefits of our interventions on households, and identify better monitoring and evaluation indicators. We are also committed to implementing impact evaluations to capture what a particular project or program has achieved, test causal linkages, and determine to what extent outcomes link to particular interventions. USAID is planning to conduct over 30 impact evaluations of Feed the Future investments in agriculture, nutrition and food security. And we have developed a Feed the Future Scorecard document to hold ourselves publicly accountable to doing business differently. In the scorecard, we have identified eight strategic areas of performance critical to meeting our global food security targets. Each strategic area has specific goal statements describing what we intend to improve as we deliver development aid, and each statement has associated measures and milestones to be met by 2015. We share the responsibility of meeting these targets with our partner countries and external stakeholders, and we plan to update the scorecard at least annually.
As an initiative, Feed the Future faces many challenges: ensuring productive interagency and donor collaboration; more effective integration of agriculture and nutrition; and the threats posed by global climate change, to name a few. While we acknowledge that all of our work in these areas may not have been seamless or perfect up to this point, we also accept that change does not come easily – or quickly – to any sector. We have been asked to “do things differently,” and we are. As time moves on, we expect to execute our development interventions even more efficiently, through the learning processes we have instituted, to ultimately help the many millions of individuals who still go to bed hungry each night. That is our goal, and we continue to work toward it with diligence and creativity.
In closing, we would like to thank the Congress for its strong support of this vital initiative. Feed the Future is more than an initiative; it is part of the lasting architecture of our development platform and lays the groundwork for us to be more effective, more efficient, and more successful in the work that we do. Feed the Future is bigger than any one agency or Administration – it is part of our global legacy.
Thank you for inviting me to speak with you today, and I welcome your guidance, comments and any questions you might have.
- Testimony of Thomas H. Staal, Acting Assistant Administrator, Bureau for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance before the House Committee on Agriculture
- Testimony of Dina Esposito, Director of Food for Peace, before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
- Testimony of Earl W. Gast, Assistant Administrator for Africa, before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations
Last updated: June 25, 2015