January 15, 2013

Commentary - On Day One: Ensuring Food Security

By Dan Glickman

Dan Glickman is a senior fellow at the Bipartisan Policy Center, based in Washington, DC and a cochair of The Chicago Council's Global Agricultural Development Initiative. Mr. Glickman served as the U.S. secretary of agriculture from March 1995 until January 2001. This post originally appeared on Diplomatic Courier.

Dear Mr. President,

You have many pressing priorities on your plate as you enter into a second term, but one area where your leadership can continue to make a difference here at home and abroad is a focus on global food security. How to feed a hungry world in a sustainable manner is one of the most vexing problems we will have to face in the coming years, but not an insurmountable task.

Remarkable progress has already been made during your first term under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s watch with the Feed the Future initiative. This innovative program begins moving us away from a model of food aid, to one where we are actually providing education and assistance to farmers in the developing world to begin to provide for themselves.

This important work is not charity or good will, but rather an investment in our own future and our own national interests. The vulnerability that comes from poverty and starvation breed instability and unrest—classic symptoms that make impoverished areas of the world easy recruiting targets for Al Qaeda and others who wish to do us harm.

Take last year’s famine in the horn of Africa as an example. This strategic area of the world is ripe for instability. After the last major famine in 2002, the U.S. was part of an effort to invest in the Famine Early Warning System Network to begin addressing the root causes of famine before it has the opportunity to become a crisis. As a result, millions of people who would have been at risk of starvation were spared from unnecessary suffering in 2011.

Innovative U.S. development efforts in the food security arena are revolutionizing agriculture and working to end the cycle of famine. By sharing new methods of planting, harvesting, and selling food, farmers are working to produce enough for their families and communities. And modern storage facilities are providing a way for huge crop yields not to be left to spoil.

We may not be able to control Mother Nature, but with these simple advances, we can make sure cyclical droughts do not always lead to devastating famines. By planning ahead, and investing a small amount in prevention now, we save lives and money down the road.

America cannot afford to pull back from the world, but instead must lead. We must be actively engaged or others will take our place and take advantage of our missed opportunities. Ensuring food security is a win-win situation for America, as we save lives while advancing our interests as a nation.

Helping the developing world has always been important to the U.S., but with the fastest rates of economic growth occurring in those countries, we cannot afford to not be engaged.

Through my work as Chairman of the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, I have seen the importance of America’s active engagement in the world. And given the interconnected nature of the world today, it is critical for our national security, our economic prosperity, and our leadership.

 

About

The Global Food and Agriculture Program aims to inform the development of US policy on global agricultural development and food security by raising awareness and providing resources, information, and policy analysis to the US Administration, Congress, and interested experts and organizations.

The Global Food and Agriculture Program is housed within the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, an independent, nonpartisan organization that provides insight – and influences the public discourse – on critical global issues. The Council on Global Affairs convenes leading global voices and conducts independent research to bring clarity and offer solutions to challenges and opportunities across the globe. The Council is committed to engaging the public and raising global awareness of issues that transcend borders and transform how people, business, and governments engage the world.

Support for the Global Food and Agriculture Program is generously provided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Blogroll

1,000 Days Blog, 1,000 Days

Africa Can End Poverty, World Bank

Agrilinks Blog

Bread Blog, Bread for the World

Can We Feed the World Blog, Agriculture for Impact

Concern Blogs, Concern Worldwide

Institute Insights, Bread for the World Institute

End Poverty in South Asia, World Bank

Global Development Blog, Center for Global Development

The Global Food Banking Network

Harvest 2050, Global Harvest Initiative

The Hunger and Undernutrition Blog, Humanitas Global Development

International Food Policy Research Institute News, IFPRI

International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center Blog, CIMMYT

ONE Blog, ONE Campaign

One Acre Fund Blog, One Acre Fund

Overseas Development Institute Blog, Overseas Development Institute

Oxfam America Blog, Oxfam America

Preventing Postharvest Loss, ADM Institute

Sense & Sustainability Blog, Sense & Sustainability

WFP USA Blog, World Food Program USA

Archive


Photo of the Week

TechnoServe farmer trainer Rewuda Nuradin consults with Eshetu Abote, a member of the Shegole coffee farming cooperative, in his corn field in western Ethiopia.



US Food Aid Reform is Long Overdue

There are rumors that U.S. food aid programs could see major changes in the next budget, including converting some of the Food for Peace program into straight cash grants instead of in-kind food assistance.


Photo of the Week

A One Acre Fund farmer in Nyamasheke District, Rwanda, applies microbuses of fertilizer to her fields as she plants climbing beans.

Agriculture Reflection

When young people are faced with the big question, “What do you want to do when you grow up?” agriculture is usually not an expected response.






Photo of the Week

Farmers load up bags of fertilizer on bicycles at input delivery in Matulo village, Kenya.

Roger Thurow - Outrage and Inspire - Forward Ever

The young man from the farm was looking smart in an olive green suit, salmon tie and cufflinks.  His black shoes were a bit scuffed, but his English was polished.  “We are moving forward,” he said.  “Forward ever, backward never.”