“With food security now on the global agenda, the world is turning to African agriculture as the answer to the question of how we feed the future,” an editorial in Tanzania’s “Daily News” states. The editorial highlights the African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF), held in Arusha last month, and notes, “The forum decided that in order to come up with concrete action plans for developing the continent’s agricultural sector, smallholder farmers have a crucial role to play and thus should be at the center of all key decisions.” For example, improving infrastructure, such as roadways, can help smallholder farmers more easily bring their products to market, the editorial notes (10/24).
Food Security and Nutrition
The U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) on Tuesday posted an infographic that answers such questions as “how many people does WFP feed each year?” and “[h]ow much does that cost and where does it get the money?” According to the infographic, WFP provided 3.6 million tons of food aid in 2011, which is equivalent to the weight of 36 cruise ships, and 71 percent of the food bought came from developing countries (10/23).
USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah last week released the first progress report for the U.S. global food security program, Feed the Future, which “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,” IIP Digital reports. “The report notes that Feed the Future has also reached nearly nine million children through programs to prevent and treat malnutrition and improve child survival,” the news service states, noting Shah released the report at the World Prize Events in Des Moines, Iowa. IIP Digital summarizes several Feed the Future efforts Shah outlined at the report’s launch (McConnell, 10/19).
The non-profit Partners in Food Solutions (PFS), a consortium of General Mills, Cargill and DSM, on Thursday announced a new agreement with USAID that “will enable PFS to expand the reach of the technical and business expertise it provides to small and growing food processors in sub-Saharan Africa,” according to a PFS press release. Under the new agreement, which “builds on a public-private partnership between USAID, the Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and General Mills, formed in 2010,” Solutions to African Food Enterprises (SAFE), USAID and PFS “will deepen their collaboration to improve African food security by bringing expertise, knowledge and resources to the continent’s food processing sector,” the press release states (10/18).
“What should President [Barack] Obama and [Republican presidential nominee] Gov. Mitt Romney talk about during [Monday’s] foreign policy debate? The force that can make or break a foreign policy: food,” author William Lambers, who partnered with the U.N. World Food Programme on the book “Ending World Hunger: School Lunches for Kids Around the World,” writes in a Tennessean opinion piece. “There are 870 million people worldwide who suffer from hunger and malnutrition,” he notes, adding, “As former Army chief and Secretary of State George Marshall said, ‘Food is a vital factor in our foreign policy. And the attitude of Americans toward food can make or break our efforts to achieve peace and security throughout the world.'”
U.N. Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Catherine Bragg on Saturday said food shortages are “a chronic problem” in southern Africa, “where more than 5.5 million people in eight countries need aid this year, a 40 percent increase compared to 2011,” according to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the Associated Press reports. Ending a five-day trip to the region, “Bragg … said worsening food shortages are the result of drought or floods and rising world food prices,” according to the AP (10/20). Bragg met with officials in Zimbabwe, Botswana, and South Africa to discuss increased cooperation and preparedness, the U.N. News Centre reports, noting Malawi, Lesotho, and Swaziland also are affected by chronic food shortages, according to OCHA (10/19).
“A new project with the objective of eliminating hunger in West Africa has been launched by West African countries, Germany, and the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO),” BusinessDay reports (10/20). The three-year Hunger-Free Initiative for West Africa will “support the 15 ECOWAS members to increase commitment and collaboration among key decision makers of all sectors,” which “is expected to translate into increased budgets allocations to food and nutrition security as well as private investment to combat poverty, the [FAO] said in a news release,” the U.N. News Centre writes (10/18). “Germany is providing $2.4 million to fund the project, while FAO is expected to provide technical support,” the Devex “Development Newswire” reports, adding, “ECOWAS also committed financial support and pledged to ensure active participation from its members.” According to the news service, “The project’s focus on increasing political commitment in West Africa echoes U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s call for strong political will and new technologies to eradicate hunger around the world” (Mungcal, 10/19).
“Innovative approaches and technologies as well as a strong political will from countries are essential to combat hunger,” according to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who spoke Thursday night in Des Moines, Iowa, at an event to recognize the winner of the World Food Prize, the U.N. News Centre reports. This year’s winner, Israeli scientist Daniel Hillel, developed “a new mode of bringing water to crops iÂÂn arid and dry regions, known as ‘micro-irrigation,'” the news service notes. An end to hunger “calls for harnessing the creativity of scientists and economists,” Ban said, adding, “It requires developing new approaches and technologies to respond to climate change, water scarcity and desertification,” according to the news service (10/18). “There is enough food to feed seven billion people, but because of climatic conditions, because of supply, market price volatility, there are still 870 million people who are going to bed hungry every night,” Ban said, the Des Moines Register notes.
“[T]he latest calculations show that U.S. ethanol policies have increased the food bills of poor food-importing countries by more than $9 billion (Â£5.6 billion) since 2006,” Olivier De Schutter, U.N. special rapporteur on the right to food, writes in the Guardian’s “Poverty Matters” blog. He asks, “But where to next? Should we disavow biofuels altogether?” He writes, “The new starting point should be to put food security first,” noting, “Globally, 25 percent of land is already degraded, and the remaining productive areas are subject to ever-greater competition from industrial and urban uses.”
India’s National Food Security Bill, “expected to be discussed in Parliament later this year, … holds out hope of addressing some of the nation’s most persistent and pervasive problems,” Ashwin Parulkar, a research scholar at the Centre for Equity Studies, writes in the Wall Street Journal’s “India Real Time” blog. “Unfortunately, in my view, the draft in its current form will be a major let down,” he states and provides some background on the bill. “Lawmakers have drafted this legislation but it appears that the bill will do little to tackle the critical areas of India’s hunger crisis so widely acknowledged by this country’s own policymakers,” he writes.