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Opinions: Cuts To U.S. Foreign Aid; Sustainable Agriculture To Feed The World; Gender Gap In Agriculture

Cutting Foreign Aid Will Harm U.S. Influence, Strength In World

The U.S.’ “influence and strength depend far more on convincing and enabling the peoples of the world to look to us as a partner for prosperity and security,” Truman National Security Project Fellow Michael Lieberman writes in a Huffington Post opinion piece reflecting on House Republican’s continuing resolution proposal to reduce foreign aid spending. “This is done less by weapons than by outstretched arms — investments in the ‘small things’ like governance, infrastructure, health and education. These in turn create the conditions necessary for security cooperation and economic opportunities, making our own nation safer and wealthier as well,” he says.

After highlighting how the proposed cuts would impact USAID, as well as the Food For Peace and Millennium Challenge Corporation programs, Lieberman writes, “Were America to cut and run from its international engagements it would signal to the world that America has conceded its decline. … Conservatives try to justify such retreat by invoking the mantra of spending money we don’t have. The fact is that we more than have the minimal sums necessary to retain our global posture, which amount to less than 1% of the budget” (3/8).

Sustainable Agriculture Presents Possible Solution For Feeding Global Populations

An “increasing numbe[r] of scientists, policy panels and experts (not hippies!) are suggesting that agricultural practices pretty close to organic – perhaps best called ‘sustainable’ – can feed more poor people sooner, begin to repair the damage caused by industrial production and, in the long term, become the norm,” Mark Bittman, a New York Times opinion columnist, writes on the newspaper’s “Opinionator” blog. Bittman highlights and praises the recent U.N. report on sustainable agriculture.

“[M]ost of the diehard adherents of industrial agriculture” assume “that by increasing supply, we’ll eventually figure out how to feed everyone on earth, even though we don’t do that now, our population is going to be nine billion by 2050, and more supply of the wrong things – oil, corn, beef – only worsens things. Many seem to naively believe that we won’t run out of the resources we need to keep this system going,” he writes.

“For developing nations, especially those in Africa, the shift from high- to low-tech farming can happen quickly,” Bittman notes before quoting Olivier De Schutter, the U.N. special rapporteur on the right to food.  “It’s easiest to make the transition in places that still have a direction to take,” he quotes De Schutter as saying. “‘We must adopt the most efficient farming techniques available.’ And those, he and others emphasize, are not industrial but sustainable,” Bittman concludes (3/8).

It’s In ‘Everyone’s Best Interest’ To Close The Gender Gap In Agriculture

In an Inter Press Service opinion piece, Alan Bojanic, U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) regional representative for Latin America and the Caribbean, and Gustavo Anriquez, an economist at FAO, reflect on the recent report that found increasing women’s access to land, technology and other agricultural resources could significantly reduce the number of hungry people worldwide.

“Closing this gender gap is in everyone’s interest,” Bojanic and Anriquez write, noting the recent social and economic changes in Latin America and the Caribbean that have led to a greater proportion of crops being grown by women in the region. “[I]t requires eliminating all forms of legal discrimination. But it is not just a matter of legislation, as government, judicial, and law enforcement officers need to be trained to deal with gender differences. … Lastly, non-discrimination cannot exist merely on paper. Efforts need to be directed towards raising awareness of the gender-specific obstacles faced by women, including the time constraints imposed by their double role of workers/producers and heads of household. Also, more public and private services, such as extension and credits, need to be easily available to women farmers,” they conclude (3/8).

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