The Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development Samantha Power on Wednesday called for an acceleration and expansion of agricultural innovation and investment as a critical pillar of addressing current and future global food crises and announced new USAID initiatives to improve agricultural production around the world, strengthen resilience, and address the root causes of hunger, malnutrition, and poverty.
In remarks at the 2022 Norman E. Borlaug International Dialogue, hosted by the World Food Prize Foundation in Des Moines, Iowa, Administrator Power underscored the challenges the world faces in addressing hunger as well as the impacts of climate change and conflict on food systems and food insecurity, exacerbated by the Russian Federation’s unprovoked war against Ukraine. She called for urgent action to accelerate innovations and technology that will feed the world, with a specific focus on three areas of investment: what we grow, how we grow, and who benefits.
During her remarks, Administrator Power highlighted the launch today of the U.S. Government’s Global Food Security Research Strategy, underscoring the U.S. government’s commitment to ending hunger and malnutrition and building sustainable resilient food systems. The new research strategy, released jointly by USAID and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), emphasizes priority objectives that will strengthen food security and, with America’s leadership, generate sustainable solutions for addressing the root causes of hunger and malnutrition, both inextricably linked to entrenched, extreme poverty. The research strategy underpins the United States Global Food Security Strategy (2022-2026), an integrated whole-of-government approach that aims to end global hunger, poverty, and malnutrition through the Feed the Future initiative.
The Administrator also announced $75 million in new funding to scale large-scale food fortification efforts – one of the most impactful ways to tackle malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies that increases the nutritional value of commonly consumed food products by adding essential vitamins and minerals during processing. The project, AFFORD, is an ambitious effort to safely and sustainably provide essential micronutrients and improve diets, particularly for women and children, through large-scale food fortification of everyday foods. USAID will work with food processors, civil society, country governments, and private-sector companies to add micronutrients to staple foods, while also providing resources to expand and scale fortification across regions facing malnourishment. AFFORD expands efforts to meet the challenge of the current global food security crisis, particularly safeguarding nutrition and cushioning shocks for vulnerable communities.
Administrator Power also announced funding to accelerate the latest seed breeding technologies. USAID will invest $3.8 million to support the ISAAA AfriCenter, Kenyatta University, and Addis Ababa University to expand the use of their Nobel Prize-winning genome editing technology to develop new varieties of sorghum that are resistant to devastating weed infestations common in most parts of Africa. This technology presents a new frontier for plant breeding that will allow local scientists to develop tailored seed varieties that can respond to drought, heat, pests, and disease, while also minimizing the need for herbicides or the laborious hand weeding so often done by women.
The Administrator announced more than $27 million in additional funding to expand the Space to Place initiative across sub-Saharan Africa to improve efficient fertilization application. Led by U.S. universities and the International Fertilizer Development Center, the Space to Place initiative uses satellite imagery and remote sensing to help researchers provide farmers with recommendations and training on exactly how much fertilizer to apply, and where to apply it. This additional funding in the Space to Place initiative is part of USAID’s long-term investment to get fertilizer into the hands of communities that need it most, and is supporting farmers with the tools and training they need to use it efficiently.
Today, USAID also released the 2022 Snapshot for Feed the Future, providing an update on the scale of the impact of the U.S. initiative to fight global hunger. To date, Feed the Future investments have unlocked more than $4.8 billion in agricultural financing, leveraged more than $2.6 billion in private-sector investment in food security, and generated more than $17.9 billion in agricultural sales for smallholder farmers. This year’s Snapshot Report highlights the work of Feed the Future champions who have contributed to building stronger food systems, better nutrition, and more resilient people.