WASHINGTON, D.C. – Feed the Future, President Obama’s global hunger and food security initiative, released its second progress report last week, announcing its successes in helping reduce hunger in its 19 focus countries in 2012. The 48 page report outlined its plan to reduce the prevalence of poverty by 20% over five years by gaining public and private partners, improving the efficiency of agricultural practices with modern technology, and maintaining a transparent data policy to keep the public educated about its decisions along the way.
The document reported promising statistics. The initiative reached 9 million households last year, 12 million children, and 7.5 million farmers, and helped increase sales for smallholder farmers by $100 million. It provided scholarships for over 1,000 students, and issued over 270,000 micro-loans to help kick start businesses. It motivated the private sector to invest over $115 million in the agriculture sector of the initiative’s focus countries. In Rwanda between 2009 and 2012, farm incomes increased by an average of 478% as a result of new farming practices such as irrigation, tree planting, and terracing. In Bangledesh, farm sales of horticulture increased by $7.8 million, and fish increased by $10.5 million. These numbers are a direct result of Feed the Future’s efforts.
The report confirmed that the Feed the Future program is paying off. The implementation of new agricultural technologies is reducing hunger and improving lives, however the initiative is not finished. Feed the Future recognizes that gender plays a major role in access to agricultural tools. Men can more easily attain credit, seeds, and innovative technology, making them more likely to succeed than women. For these reasons Feed the Future has started begun collection data for its “Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index,” which will determine how to increase its impact on gender equality.
One article by Devex points out that the report lacks enough statistical data on how Feed the Future’s work has actually improved the lives of agricultural workers. Their work may reach 9 million households, and increase sales, but the question remains, what does that actually mean for their quality of life?
Feed the Future has also raised the bar on itself. To increase its impact, it is working with a number of partner government institutions, and supporting a global strategy through the United Nations to better agricultural practices around the world.
– Emma McKay
Sources: Feed the Future, Devex
Photo: Feed the Future