DEPUTY ADMINISTRATOR COLEMAN: Good afternoon. I’m grateful to be with all of you today to kick off a truly urgent conversation – one that I hope will prompt a concerted effort among partners, and across sectors, to think – and act – differently about how we combat food insecurity.
After decades of progress in the fight against hunger, we’re now confronting a global food security crisis spurred by a once-in-a-generation pandemic that has flattened economies, fractured supply chains, and caused huge spikes in inflation.
Then came Vladimir Putin’s egregious invasion of Ukraine, one of the world’s most productive breadbaskets.
Using energy and food as weapons of war, Russia’s actions have had deadly consequences for the Ukrainian people – and all those who rely on global markets for food, fertilizer, and fuel, particularly the world’s poorest communities.
And the effects of climate change, perhaps more than any other force, are driving nations – many that were already facing extreme poverty – to the brink of catastrophe.
According to last year’s UN IPCC report, by 2050, a billion people will be impacted by coastal flooding due to rising seas. More will be hit with extreme weather disasters – storms, floods, and droughts that shock agriculture more than any other industry, with the greatest harm caused to those least responsible for climate change, including smallholder farmers in particular, who produce a third of the world’s food supply.
In response to these compounding crises, the United States has committed unprecedented amounts of financial support. Since the start of Putin’s unprovoked war against Ukraine, we have delivered more than $13 billion dollars in humanitarian and development assistance.
In June of last year, at the G7 Leaders’ Summit in Germany, President Biden pledged $2.76 billion in additional resources to protect the world’s most vulnerable. And we have expanded our Feed the Future target countries from 12 to 20 – 15 of which are Least Developed Countries.
This funding is accelerating efforts to make the global food system more productive, sustainable, and resilient. Through USAID and across government, the United States is making critical investments to mitigate the global fertilizer shortage, increase agricultural capacity and resilience, and cushion the worst effects of the crisis on the hardest-hit communities.
But as many of you know – as many of the nations represented in this room are already experiencing – climate change is moving faster than the world has been able to respond.
We have no choice but to act more urgently, more creatively, and more collaboratively. Some of the most impactful actions we can take to help smallholder farmers stay productive through the current crisis are to 1) strengthen fertilizer supply chains and; 2) help smallholders make more efficient use of their fertilizer.
USAID is tackling both of these challenges.
In partnership with the African Development Bank, we are providing $15 million dollars to support the African Emergency Food Production Facility and giving suppliers a partial trade credit guarantee to incentivize the distribution of more than 3.5 million metric tons of fertilizers to remote or hard-to-reach markets. These efforts will deliver a combined value of $315 million dollars in fertilizer distributed to over 4.5 million smallholder farmers.
We are also increasing investments in the fertilizer supply chain, increasing the capacity and reach of suppliers and improving “last mile” delivery capacity to ensure farmers have access to the right fertilizer at the right time. We have allocated $5 million dollars to create a new trade credit guarantee facility, supporting partnerships between fertilizer manufacturers and development financial institutions like the DFC, effectively reducing the financial risk to suppliers in order to increase their capacity to deliver fertilizers.
And to help farmers reduce the amount of fertilizer that goes to waste, USAID is partnering with U.S. and local universities, local scientists, and other donors to utilize satellite imagery and remote sensing that can help farmers use fertilizers more effectively. This approach – a program we call Space to Place – has already helped farmers in Ethiopia reduce their fertilizer waste by 20 to 80 percent and double their crop yields.
Last fall, Administrator Power announced more than $27 million dollars in additional funding to expand this innovative program into other parts of sub-Saharan Africa, including Malawi, Zambia, and other LDCs represented here today.
But the monumental challenge remains. Food insecurity is rising for hundreds of millions of people, particularly in countries working to move beyond LDC status.
And it’s going to take more than a handful of countries periodically allocating cash and food aid to deliver sustainable results. We see the great strides made in the Green Revolution. We also see the environmental tradeoffs and inequitable outcomes. We now have an opportunity to get it right.
To do that, we need help from governments, the private sector, donors, and nonprofits to accelerate and scale programs like Space to Place. And we need far greater investment in agricultural research and development to create new tools that empower local actors to preserve more of what they grow, to enter new markets and put more cash in their pockets, and grow their nation’s economies.
If we, as government, civil society, NGO, and private sector actors do not urgently coalesce around greater commitments to fund and innovate, we will never move beyond crisis response, and the worst of the catastrophic predictions will take hold.
From record amounts of emergency assistance to major investments in agricultural development, the United States has boldly led, and we look forward to continuing this work and galvanizing even more support.