This week, the CSIS Task Force on Global Food Security
released its latest report, Cultivating Global Food Security: A Strategy for U.S. Leadership on Productivity, Agricultural Research, and Trade
According to the report, “the number of people living with chronic hunger has jumped to more than 1 billion people – one sixth of the world’s population – and those trends show no signs of reversal: between 2007 and 2008, the number of people suffering from chronic hunger in the developing world increased by 80 million. In 2009, as many as 100 million additional people were pushed into a state of food insecurity.” The riots and instability during the 2008 food crisis vividly illustrate
the consequences of failing to address this problem.
The report outlines six broad recommendations for policy makers:
1. Develop an integrated, comprehensive approach to food security;At the report’s Capitol Hill launch, CSIS President John Hamre compared releasing think tank studies to “casting bread on the water, most of it disappears.” However the high profile Congressional presence—including co-chairs Representative Betty McCollum and Senators Richard Lugar and Bob Casey—proves that awareness of the global food security problem is growing.
2. Empower leadership (USAID) and ensure cross-agency coordination;
3. Support country-led (and country-specific), demand-driven plans for agriculture;
4. Elevate agricultural research and development in the United States utilizing the land-grant university system;
5. Leverage the strengths of the private sector to encourage innovation and give farmers better access to credit and markets; and
6. Renew U.S. leadership in using trade as a positive tool for foreign policy and development in order to improve stability and economic growth at home and abroad.
“We are summoned to this issue by our consciences but we also know this is a security issue,” said Sen. Casey. Along with Sen. Lugar, Casey introduced the “Global Food Security Act of 2009,” which seeks to “promote food security in foreign countries, stimulate rural economies, and improve emergency response to food crises, as well as to expand the scope of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 to include conservation farming, nutrition for vulnerable populations, and economic integration of persons in extreme poverty.”
Representative McCollum introduced a similar bill in the House, but neither has made much headway. Senator Lugar said that he hopes the bipartisan and bicameral nature of their bills will help this issue stay afloat during a particularly toxic political atmosphere in Washington.
The release of the CSIS report and its Congressional support is particularly timely, as USAID just announced the 20 focus countries for the “Feed the Future” Initiative, which are Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia in Africa; Bangladesh, Cambodia, Nepal, Tajikistan in Asia; and Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, and, Nicaragua in Latin America. The White House pledged an initial $3.5 billion over three years for the Feed the Future Initiative, with additional pledges from other G-8 and G-20 members to total $18.5 billion.
In addition, the State Department is in the midst of preparing its first-ever (and long-delayed) strategic doctrine for diplomacy and development, the QDDR, in which agricultural development is expected to have a major role.
Speaking on behalf of the State Department, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Trade Policy and Programs William Craft echoed the previous testimony of Deputy Secretary of State Jacob Lew on Feed the Future, saying that the United States believes development should be on par with diplomacy and defense, and is both a strategic and moral imperative.
Next up: “Food Security Comes to Capitol Hill, Part Two” on the particular role women can play in increasing global productivity, if given the chance.
Photo Credit: “World Food Day,” courtesy of flickr user JP.