U.S. Government Initiative Reduces Hunger and Poverty for Millions

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Feed the Future reaches nearly 7 million farmers and 12.5 million children globally

When President Obama took office, the world was in the midst of a food, fuel and financial crisis that brought millions of people to the brink of poverty. In 2007 and 2008, food prices hit all-time highs, putting basic staples such as rice and wheat beyond the reach of the world’s most vulnerable populations. President Obama acted to focus the world on food security and give millions of people a pathway out of hunger and extreme poverty. With a clear focus on fighting poverty, hunger and under-nutrition, President Obama launched a global food security initiative called Feed the Future as one of the first foreign policy acts of his presidency. He pledged at the 2009 G-8 Summit in L’Aquila, Italy, to mobilize at least $3.5 billion toward global food security, which leveraged additional commitments of more than $18.5 billion from other donors. Feed the Future is now delivering results that are changing the face of poverty and hunger for some of the world’s poorest families. 

Building on the standard set by the African Union when its members committed to develop comprehensive food security plans, and working alongside thousands of partners from the private sector, civil society, and local leaders, Feed the Future pioneered a new model of development—one grounded in country leadership, policy reforms, cutting-edge measurement and evidence, and a relentless focus on delivering real results. This model was informed by a whole-of-government approach involving 11 U.S. Government agencies, led by the U.S. Agency for International Development.

In the last year alone, Feed the Future has reached nearly 7 million smallholder farmers with new technologies and protected 12.5 million children from the threat of hunger, poverty, and malnutrition. Since implementation began four years ago, Feed the Future and complementary efforts have attracted billions of dollars in investments focused in agriculture, introduced affordable new technologies aimed at increasing agricultural production and managing the risks of changing climate, and introduced nutrient-packed foods to millions of mothers and children around the world.  

During the week of May 19, the U.S. government released the 2014 Feed the Future Progress Report, a new Multi-Sectoral Nutrition Strategy, and announced several new investments aimed at improving food security and nutrition for millions. 

Feed the Future Results 

  • In 2009, President Obama committed $3.5 billion to end hunger and extreme poverty. The United States has surpassed that pledge with more than $5 billion in commitments and secured more than $20 billion in commitments from other donors.
  • Feed the Future has helped nearly 7 million farmers apply new technologies such as high-yielding seed varieties on about 9.9 million acres of land, an area greater than the states of Massachusetts and New Jersey combined. 
  • The initiative has reached 12.5 million children with improved nutrition to ensure they have food to fuel their minds and bodies. 
  • Within Feed the Future, the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition was launched in 2012 to significantly expand private sector investment and public-private partnerships for smallholder agricultural development to reduce poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa.
  • The New Alliance and the Grow Africa initiative—an African-led initiative that works in partnership with Feed the Future—have brought together more than 160 companies (two-thirds African) and driven more than $7 billion in planned investments, $970 million of which were implemented in 2013. 
  • Through the New Alliance and Grow Africa partnerships, more than 2.6 million smallholders have already been reached through services, training, sourcing or production contracts and more than 33,000 jobs have been created. 

Country-level Results 

  • In Bangladesh, 3.3 million smallholder farmers were reached with improved seed, fertilizer and farm management practices, helping farmers increase rice yields by as much as 20% and creating additional rice sales of $25 million.
  • In Haiti, Feed the Future worked closely with smallholder farmers to improve productivity, increasing rice yields by 129%, corn by 340%, and beans by 100%; the number of children suffering from acute malnutrition in Haiti was cut in half. 
  • In Ethiopia, by partnering with DuPont and a local agriculture cooperative, Feed the Future has helped 35,000 maize farmers increase yields by 50% and brought rust-resistance wheat varieties to 1.2 million farmers. Guts Agro Industry,a local Ethiopian company that sources from 10,000 farmers, developed a ready-to-use therapeutic food made with chickpeas and has plans to expand to 52,000 farmers.  With nearly $70 million in new private sector investment, Ethiopian farmers have been able to grow their businesses and hire new employees.
  • In Senegal, Feed the Future helped farmers produce enough rice to meet the consumption needs of more than 400,000 Senegalese for one year.
  • In Honduras, more than 4,300 families are now well above the $1.25-per-day poverty line, thanks in part to Feed the Future’s efforts, which increased horticulture sales by 125%.

Critical, Country-led Reforms

  • By encouraging country-led and country-right reforms, progress has been made on 96% of the critical policy commitments and one-third of the reforms countries have promised to make.
  • In the past year, more than 17,000 Senegalese farmers and small entrepreneurs benefited from nearly $20 million in rural loans and grants. 
  • In Ethiopia, private sector investment has encouraged the government to liberalize its seed sector.
  • Nigeria reformed a corrupt fertilizer sector.
  • Tanzania removed its export ban.
  • Burkina Faso passed two significant laws governing public-private partnership.
  • Rwanda has strengthened its focus on supporting farmer cooperatives.

Research Results 

  • U.S. universities are delivering the best of American science, technology and innovation on behalf of Feed the Future.
  • The U.S. Government has more than doubled our agricultural research investments, developing and deploying more than 34 new drought-tolerant maize varieties in the last five years.
  • USAID recently announced the 24th Feed the Future Innovation Lab, based at Purdue University, which will focus on reducing food waste and post-harvest losses. 
  • USAID also announced a new $5 million research partnership with Texas A&M dedicated to eliminating coffee rust and help protect the livelihoods of 500,000 small farmers.

Nutrition Pledges

  • A new Multi-Sectoral Nutrition Strategy from USAID, working in partnership with Feed the Future, will reduce the number of chronically malnourished or stunted children by at least 2 million over the next five years. It will hold global acute malnutrition below the agreed emergency threshold of 15 percent in places where Feed the Future works.
  • USAID will enhance maternal nutrition, promote dietary diversity for children, provide safe drinking water, teach good hygiene like hand washing, improve community management of acute malnutrition, and increase access to high-nutrient food. 
  • USAID will set clear objectives in specific countries and regularly monitor our impact to improve our results. We will coordinate with the private sector across multiple areas to improve the cost-effectiveness of nutrition funding.

Whole-of-Government Successes 

  • The U.S. African Development Foundation’s food security programs helped create more than $21 million in new economic activities that directly benefitted more than 125,000 smallholders and their families.
  • More than 1,200 Peace Corps Volunteers worked to help people make sustainable changes in how they cultivate their food, address water shortages and feed their families.
  • USDA formally launched the U.S. Government’s open agriculture data initiative, assessed or improved statistical systems in six Feed the Future focus countries, and trained more than 145,000 food producers in improved agricultural practices, including food safety.
  • The Millennium Challenge Corporation moved forward on Compacts in Feed the Future focus countries Mozambique, Tanzania and Senegal, investing in agriculture, land tenure and roads, and is developing a Compact with Liberia. MCC also works in Burkina Faso, Benin and Niger—New Alliance countries--where investments include irrigation, land tenure and roads.
  • The Treasury Department’s Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP) issued an additional $255 million in grants and invested approximately $50 million in small- and medium-sized agribusinesses in 2013, bringing its total multilateral funding to $961 million in private and public investments and advisory services in 31 countries. 
  • The Department of State, the Office of the United States Trade Representative and others helped foster major policy changes that support global and local food security goals. 

Last updated: May 22, 2014

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