Posts Tagged ‘Feed the Future’


Feeding the Future: Ethiopia’s Livestock Growth Program

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By Kimberlee Davies

With one of the lowest GDPs and highest malnutrition rates in the world, Ethiopia desperately needs food security investment and innovation. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) recently awarded a contract to CNFA, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit, to implement the Agricultural Growth Program–Livestock Growth Project (AGP-LGP) in Ethiopia. The program, sponsored by USAID’s Feed the Future initiative, will encourage growth in the farming sector by increasing the competitiveness and value of Ethiopia’s livestock. CNFA expects the program to create roughly 2,600 new jobs and to improve the nutrition of 200,000 households.

CNFA has accepted a USAID contract to implement a livestock project in Ethiopia. (Photo Credit: ILRI)

In 2009, Feed the Future—a U.S. executive initiative resulting from the 2009 World Summit on Food Security—selected 20 countries, including Ethiopia, to work with on strengthening food security. Ethiopia was chosen for its high level of need and the Ethiopian government’s openness to partnership. Currently, Ethiopia’s annual per capita income is only US$170, and 30 percent of children under five are underweight. Livestock contribute to the livelihood of 60 to 70 percent of the population.

CNFA already has enacted a similar livestock program in Kenya. The Kenya Drylands Livestock Development Program (KDLDP) was one of the first programs implemented in Africa under Feed the Future, and has successfully increased livestock value and yields through improved production, marketing, and market access. Fattening animals and processing livestock products near production areas results in higher prices, thereby increasing local incomes and promoting employment among underemployed groups such as women, youth, and the elderly. AGP-LGP will apply CNFA’s past success to Ethiopia.



For International Women’s Day: An Innovative Agricultural Empowerment Index

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By Stephanie Buglione

Rural women represent, on average, more than 40 percent of the agricultural workforce in the developing world, but they own only 1 percent of the land, and face constant barriers to equality and success.

The Index's brochure. (Photo credit: Feed the Future Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index)

The Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index (WEAI) measures empowerment, agency, and inclusion of women in this sector to identify areas for improvement. The index uses the Alkire Foster Method, which measures multidimensional poverty, well-being, and inequality against multiple criteria at both the individual and household level.

Developed by the Oxford Poverty & Human Development Initiative (OPHI) in collaboration with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), the project informs Obama’s Feed the Future program, a global hunger and poverty initiative.

Within five different domains, including control of income, decisions about agricultural production, and time use, the WEAI measures the leadership roles and extent of empowerment and involvement of women in the agriculture sector of the developing world.



Achieving Agricultural Development through Capacity Building for African Higher Education

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By Peter McPherson and Daniel Bornstein

Peter McPherson is the President of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) and former USAID administrator. Daniel Bornstein is a sophomore at Dartmouth College majoring in Anthropology.

USAID administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah emphasized the pivotal role of U.S. universities in confronting global food insecurity during a speech in November before the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities. There is no better way to integrate capacity building with agricultural development than by bringing African higher education to the forefront. For years, African universities have fed agriculture graduates into urban-based bureaucracies, detaching them from the urgent rural development issues facing their countries. African leaders now need to transform these universities so that they produce the knowledge and the human capacity needed to directly confront the issues of food security.

The U.S.-Africa Higher Education Initiative's efforts have resulted in USAID awarding partnerships linking U.S. and African universities . (Image credit: Higher Education for Development)

The need for action is urgent: there are nearly one billion hungry people in the world today, disproportionately in sub-Saharan Africa. Food production will have to grow by 70 percent, even in the face of the challenges of climate change, if the planet is to feed more than 9 billion people by 2050. Yet development assistance for African higher education has dropped dramatically since the 1980s.

Rekindling U.S. government support for African higher education meshes perfectly with the Feed the Future initiative, the Obama administration’s comprehensive plan for fighting global hunger. Feed the Future provides an opportunity for African universities to emerge as national bastions of research and training, well-geared to local economic and social circumstances. The coordination of research, training, and extension—which in the U.S. has been achieved over the past 150 years through land-grant universities—will be crucial to this effort.



New report recommends more flexibility in food aid funds, and better coordination of programs, to improve effectiveness

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By Matt Styslinger

A new report commissioned by the Partnership to Cut Hunger and Poverty in Africa aims to inform U.S. policymakers, as they debate the 2012 Farm Bill, of important changes in the policies and practices of U.S. food aid since the 2008 Farm Bill was passed. The largest international food aid program, the Food for Peace Act, is incorporated into the U.S. farm bill process, and the report hopes to encourage further improvements in the effectiveness of food aid. The report was written by former Chief Economist for the Democratic staff on the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee Stephanie Mercier.

New report aims to encourage improvements in the effectiveness of food aid in the 2012 Farm Bill. (Photo: Bernard Pollack)

In the report Mercier discusses the use of innovative tools that were first used in the 2008 Farm Bill, which she says improved the efficiency and effectiveness of food aid. These new tools include local and regional procurement of commodities, greater focus on the nutritional qualities of food assistance, stronger ability of non-emergency development aid to address root causes of food insecurity, and better use of information generated by USAID’s Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWSNET). According to the report, however, the effectiveness of food aid funds could benefit from more flexibility and better coordination among new and existing programs, the report says. Mercier emphasizes the growing interest in using development aid money and resources to achieve food security goals.

“Food aid and food security are going to face a lot of challenges in the next couple of years,” Mercier explained at a June 10 event in Washington D.C. Mercier says that the Obama administration’s Feed the Future food security initiative, for example, faces budget pressure from the U.S. House of Representatives, which has been pushing to cut funding for the program significantly. Recent global commodity price volatility has also created challenges for U.S. food aid, as the amount of aid that can be given in the form of in-kind commodities is dependent on relative prices. Finally, the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Doha Round of international trade negotiations—which could include restrictions on in-kind donations of food commodities and higher requirements for needs assessments in food aid—has made little progress towards completion, creating an environment of uncertainty.



Feeding the World While Caring for the Planet

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This Thursday, June 2nd, a US congressional briefing on ” Fresh Approaches to Food Security: Feeding the World While Caring for the Planet and Its Most Vulnerable People” will be held on Capitol Hill with speakers from the UN, USAID, IFAD and many others.

Agricultural innovations that help feed people while protecting the environment will be looked at during this Congressional event.

At this event, Olivier De Schutter, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, will discuss the findings of his report Agroecology and the right to food - which shows that eco-farming techniques can double food production in entire regions while mitigating climate change and alleviating rural poverty.

Also speaking will be Susan Bradley, who serves as Senior Policy Advisor at USAID on innovative programs in the Feed the Future Initiative, a project focused on addressing global hunger by advancing agricultural development, nutrition and food security.

Other panelists include Cheryl Morden, Director of the North American Liaison Office for the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), whose successful focus on small-scale rural farmers, especially women, has provided the U.S. and other nations with a set of best practices in working with increasing the capacity and incomes of vulnerable rural communities; and Timi Gerson with American Jewish World Service who will describe what the faith community is doing here and abroad to address global hunger and malnutrition.

For more information or to RSVP for this one-hour briefing, please contact Karen Hansen-Kuhn at 202-222-0749 or

To purchase State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet please click HERE. And to watch the one minute book trailer, click HERE.



Nourishing the Planet TV: Empowering Women to Feed Communities

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In this episode, Nourishing the Planet research intern Evy Drawec explains how women farmers, who produce more than half of the food in the world, can play a critical role in alleviating global hunger and poverty. Increased investment in the millions of women worldwide who depend on agriculture for their livelihoods could improve the nutrition, education, and health of entire communities.


To read more about how empowering women can help to alleviate poverty and hunger, see: Women Farmers: An ‘Untapped Solution’ to Global Hunger, Women Entrepreneurs: Added Value and Banking on the Harvest.


What Works: Sharing and Scaling Up for a More Sustainable Food System

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By Christina Bonanni

This post is part of a series where Nourishing the Planet asks its readers: What works? Every week we’ll ask the question and every week you can join the conversation!


If fruits and vegetables can be included in the diets of poor African men and women, it is much more likely to aid them in combating Vitamin A and C deficiencies, and provide a more diverse diet.

Malnutrition is caused when there is an insufficient intake of the nutritious foods an individual needs to grow and functional normally, which can lead to developmental challenges and stunted growth. The International Food Policy Research Institute predicts an 18 percent rise in the number of malnourished children in sub-Saharan African from 2001 to 2020. Many international aid organizations are fighting to combat malnutrition on both the small and large scale.

Doctors without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) is working in African communities to raise awareness about malnutrition. MSF developed a multimedia campaign, Starved for Attention, which distributes free action kits to help communities and activists organize their own awareness raising events. One hundred and ninety-five million children around the world suffer from malnutrition every year, with 90 percent living in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Starved for Attention’s goal is to highlight the importance of ensuring that children receive the essential nutrients needed to ward off disease and become productive members of society as adults. (more…)


Biofortification Experts Take the Stage to Speak Out on Malnutrition Solutions

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By Amanda Stone

“Malnutrition is the single biggest global health problem in the world,” Ambassador William J. Garvelink, the deputy coordinator for development of President Obama’s new Feed the Future initiative announced at the First Global Conference on Biofortification last week in Washington, DC. Global experts gathered in Georgetown to discuss the future of this worldwide initiative to reduce “hidden hunger” or micronutrient malnutrition, which affects at least 1 billion people worldwide, causing a variety of illnesses and mortality in the developing world.

HarvestPlus director Howarth Bouis (photo credit Neil Palmer CIAT)

Biofortification is the process of breeding higher levels of essential micronutrients, such as Vitamin A, iron, and zinc, into the staple crops that provide nourishment to vulnerable people, particularly women and children.  Keynote speakers, panelists and white paper authors spoke to an audience of scientists, policymakers, donors and business leaders from around the world to facilitate conversation about breakthroughs and research in the industry. Recent discoveries show, for example, that biofortified orange sweet potato can be effective in providing dietary vitamin A. Vitamin A deficiency is a leading cause of preventable blindness in children and also increases risk of maternal mortality.

“Food security is about ensuring better access to better quality food and creating innovative linkages between health and agriculture,” said Garvelink.  One of the main topics of discussion on the first day of the conference was a need to strengthen the link between nutrition and agriculture.  (more…)


Pushing for More and Better Development Assistance, One Letter at a Time

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Interview by Janeen Madan

Asma Lateef is Director of the Bread for the World Institute, the research and policy analysis education wing that underpins Bread for the World’s advocacy work. Bread for the World is a faith based anti-hunger advocacy organization urging our nation’s decision makers to end hunger at home and abroad.

Formerly, Asma was Senior International Policy Analyst at Bread for the World and Director of Policy and Programs for Citizens for Global Solutions. She has also served as a consultant for the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the International Labour Organization (ILO) in Geneva. Asma holds a B.A. in Geography from McGill University, a M.A. in Economics from Maryland University, and a post-graduate Diploma in Economics from the London School of Economics.

Hopefully, the World Food Prize will bring attention to what advocacy can do and get more people excited about engaging policymakers on issues of hunger and poverty. (Photo credit: Mark Fenton)

Bread for the World’s President, David Beckmann, was recently awarded the World Food Prize along with Heifer International’s President, Jo Luck. How does this recognition highlight the important work that Bread is engaged in?

The prize gives the role of advocacy and citizen engagement, in pushing for better policies, more attention. Both Heifer International and Bread have really engaged ordinary people in this movement, and what this prize does is acknowledge the impact that this advocacy can have. We are in difficult times because of the economy, but I think at the same time, there is more political will to work on these issues. Elevating hunger and poverty as a priority for the U.S. will take a lot of effort. Hopefully, the prize will bring attention to what advocacy can do and get more people excited about engaging policymakers on these issues.

How is Bread’s grassroots network organized?

We have a grassroots membership which includes individual members, as well as a network of 4000-4500 churches. Our members are in almost every Congressional district across the country, and through these networks we are able to mobilize letters and calls to Congress. We estimate that each year, we send 150,000 letters to Congress. By writing letters, members build important relationships with their members of Congress, and show that that people really care about issues of hunger and poverty, and that there is a constituency for development assistance in the U.S. When you have a congregation of 5000 people that send letters on a single issue, it can really generate waves in a Congressional office because someone has to reply to all those letters.

How does Bread organize its legislative work and engage its grassroots members?

We lobby members of Congress about hunger and poverty issues, both domestic and international. Each year, we have one main legislative campaign, called the Offering of Letters Campaign. This year, we are working on a domestic issue- income tax credit and the child tax credit. Our members are learning about how tax credits are connected to hunger and poverty. Each year, we produce a kit that provides all the information that an individual would need to know about the issue. They then use this information to engage their friends, families and congregations, and help lead workshops and letter-writing campaigns. Next year, we’re going to work on foreign aid reform.

Each year, the Bread for the World Institute puts out an annual flagship publication called the Hunger Report. What are its main goals and what is the focus of the next report?

Our Annual Hunger Report analyzes the best thinking on issues we care about, and writes it in a way that is accessible to a broad public. It tells stories that are educational, inspiring and motivational, and help people understand how these issues are connected.

This year, our report focuses on the U.S. policy response in the aftermath of the food crisis and the dramatic rise in global hunger over the last 3 years. Our aim is to educate our members about initiatives like Feed the Future (FTF), the U.S. hunger and food security initiative, and to help them understand how we can improve the effectiveness of our aid program.

How can we make our foreign assistance more effective in reducing hunger and poverty?

We need to make development a foreign policy priority. The administration has just launched its new Global Development Policy and this is a tremendous step forward. While there’s a growing recognition about the importance of development, there is also a lot of follow-up work that needs to be done. We are closely following the work around Feed the Future (FTF), which I think is a tremendous opportunity to connect agriculture and nutrition. It really begins to reverse the huge decline in donor investment in agriculture over the last decade. FTF could allow for the scaling up of successful efforts, and there is a real openness to hear about success stories and innovations with the aim of building on what works.

But these initiatives need to be much more responsive to local needs, and we need to ensure that they are country-led and country-owned – they must go beyond governments to include civil society. I think strengthening local capacity is key. Currently our investments are very project-oriented, once donors lose interest or the money runs out, those projects die. We need to focus on leaving behind skills, systems and institutions that can carry on that work. In theory, that’s where our aid should go. These are all issues that we are educating our grassroots membership about so that we can make a coherent case for the need for reform, particularly for greater investments in sustainable agricultural development.

How does Bread’s grassroots advocacy work to foster important policy changes?

One of the issues that we have been a consistent voice for is more and better development assistance. Over the last 10 years, we’ve seen a tripling of poverty-focused development assistance, which benefits poor and hungry people around the world. Bread members have been part of the movement that has helped to raise awareness about the importance of these accounts and their impact. These efforts have promoted important debates and discussions and helped to create the momentum for the push on foreign aid reform that we are seeing now with FTF.

Our members understand that the kinds of changes they seek don’t happen overnight, these are building blocks that are leading to better policies over time. Incremental changes can add up in the long term, and they show that an individual activist can really have a global impact.

What I think Bread does well is show that progress is possible. Meaningful progress will actually take time because it means addressing structural issues. But it is possible and we have seen progress over time. And this is also what is so exciting about Nourishing the Planet, because you are highlighting success stories and things that really work.

Janeen Madan is a research intern with Nourishing the Planet.


In Case You Missed It: The Week in Short

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This week has been an amazing and exciting mix of events and people, many of whom had pointed us to projects we have visited for Nourishing the Planet.

photo credit:Bernard Pollack

Our preview briefing of State of the World 2011 on Thursday morning was a big success including discussion from Worldwatch President Christopher Flavin, Hans Herren of the Millennium Institute and Dyno Keatinge of The World Vegetable Center (AVRDC).

We saw Howard Buffett of the Howard G. Buffett Foundation give a keynote address cautioning against depending fully on technology to alleviate hunger. NtP co-Project Director Brian Halweil discussed his sense of the tensions that arise between differing opinions of ‘sustainability’ when leaders of the food and agriculture community gather. Co-laureate David Beckmann from Bread for the World gave a keynote as well on Obama’s  Feed the Future Initiative and the importance of reporting on the hopeful stories from the ground in Ghana and Ethiopia.  Also check out our weekly innovation on women who’ve created a bank that dispenses food instead of money in Niger, taking food security and fighting malnutrition into their own hands.