To end hunger, we need to grow more food in the developing world. But as we all know, before you plant the seeds, you must prepare the soil. In order to grow more food in the developing world, we must invest in agricultural training, infrastructure and systems that will empower farmers, countries and continents to not only break free from the cycle of food aid, but become food exporters themselves.
Feed the Future–one of the most important programs to help build sustainable agriculture in the developing world–is now in jeopardy. In 2010, Rajiv Shah, administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, announced the Obama administration’s global strategy to help 20 developing countries increase agricultural production, and reduce hunger and poverty. Current proposed budget cuts will slash Feed the Future and many other international and domestic hunger programs.
Support for Feed the Future has come from across the political spectrum. Writing from Malawi in a recent article about the budget debate, Michael Gerson, Washington Post columnist and former policy advisor for President George W. Bush, said the promotion of agriculture “is among the best examples of long-term, bootstrap development. It is the kind of foreign assistance that encourages enterprise and independence, and avoids the need for emergency famine relief.”
To raise awareness of the need to fund this and other crucial hunger programs, Opportunity International has joined HungerFast.org, a broad coalition of organizations led by Ambassador Tony Hall, a member of Opportunity’s Board of Advisors. Ambassador Hall has been fasting since March 28th to call attention to the one billion people worldwide who suffer from hunger–and the 25,000 who die each day from hunger-related causes.
Over the next decades, ensuring food security will become even more challenging. Experts say we will have to increase food production by 70% to feed a global population of nine billion people by 2050. Recently, Jacques Diouf, director general of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), warned that countries are not doing enough to increase food production to meet rising demand and that the world could be headed for a global food crisis. We must now lay the groundwork for the future by investing in farmers and building viable, agricultural markets in developing economies.
Investing in a smallholder farmer in Africa is one way that you personally can help reduce hunger now and increase food security in the future. “Africa is capable of sustaining its food needs,” says John Magnay, Opportunity’s senior agricultural advisor. “But if you look at crop yields in Africa, they are at 40% of what they could be.”
Opportunity’s agricultural finance and rural savings initiatives give farmers, particularly women – who do roughly 70 percent of the world’s agricultural work– the tools they need to increase their crop production and family income, while helping to feed their communities.
Learn more below about Opportunity’s agricultural finance program, and join HungerFast.org to speak up for the hungry around the world.
Watch Opportunity’s Video, “Harvesting Hope”: