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Feed The Future Guide For Obama Administration’s Food Security Plan Released

The Obama administration’s Feed the Future initiative will focus efforts on scaling up local food production in a small number of countries, USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah said Thursday during a speech outlining the principles in the Feed the Future Guide, which was released at a daylong symposium, Reuters reports (Abbott, 5/20). 

The initiative, which will work in 12 African countries, four Asian countries and four Latin American and Caribbean countries, requires the nations “to draw up their own development plans, which could include everything from establishing research stations and breeding better seed to giving farmers access to credit, insurance and markets,” the Wall Street Journal writes. The new strategy “would be a break from the recent past in which the U.S. has largely helped hungry nations by spending roughly $2 billion annually to donate U.S.-grown food, a strategy that has aided U.S. farmers and shippers,” according to the newspaper, which also notes that most of the initiative’s budget “has yet to be approved by Congress” (Kilman, 5/21). 

The “full details of how the money will be spent” has not yet been released, but the guide said the initiative would aim to increase “access to products such as fertilisers and new technology, including agriculture biotechnology,” the Financial Times reports. The U.S. would also “support agricultural extension, reform of land property rights and post-harvest storage,” according to the newspaper (Blas, 5/20).

During his speech about the $3.5 billion initiative, Shah said, “Combined with the investments of our partner countries, we believe this will lead to 40 million people over 10 years increasing their incomes by more than 10 percent a year, and we expect to reach 25 million children with nutritional interventions that will prevent stunting in 10 million kids,” Agence France-Presse reports. “Agricultural development is a springboard for broader economic development, and food security is the foundation for peace and opportunity and, therefore, our own national security,” he said (Zeitvogel, 5/20).

Shah also spoke about providing opportunities for women farmers, according to Foreign Policy’s blog, “The Cable.” Shah said, “Women are responsible for 60 to 80 percent of the food in countries where we work and when women receive gains in income, they are far more likely to spend those gains improving their families’ access to health and education.” According to the blog, ways of helping women farms include, “focusing on farm products that ‘enhance’ the standing of women, such as on sweet potatoes and legumes, and increasing financial services and educational support targeted at women” (Rogin, 5/20). 

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack also spoke at the symposium, the Financial Times reports. He said, “past approaches to global hunger – which focused efforts on providing food aid – are not enough … In the longer term, we need a comprehensive approach focused on developing sustainable solutions to eliminate food insecurity” (5/20). “The Cable” reports that Ambassador William Garvelink will lead the implementation of Feed the Future. He will also ensure the initiative “is aligned with other food security-related programs and policies across the government. USAID is the lead implementing agency for this initiative” (5/20).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.