Editor's Note: Agri-Pulse and The Chicago Council on Global Affairs are teaming up to host a monthly column to explore how the U.S. agriculture and food sector can maintain its competitive edge and advance food security in an increasingly integrated and dynamic world.
Upendo Malata eyes the dark grey clouds gathering overhead with a feeling of anticipation. Rain is coming, and her one-acre farm in Magulilwa, Tanzania, desperately needs it. Uncertainty is a feeling that Upendo has gotten used to, because it’s the third year in a row that weather problems have threatened her family’s livelihood. Last year, her harvest was smaller than normal because the rains arrived later than expected. The year before, powerful winds and hail from a sudden storm destroyed much of her crop, forcing the family to ration food for months until the next harvest.
Just like farmers in the US, Upendo works hard and is not looking for a handout; she just wants the opportunity to grow her own way to prosperity. However, life is inherently risky when you have to feed your family and generate your livelihood off about an acre of land; when you rely on rain to irrigate your crops, and face a changing climate that makes this rainfall increasingly unpredictable.
We cannot afford to ignore the plight of farmers like her, and not only for humanitarian reasons. As Sylvain Roy wrote in these very pages a few weeks ago, we have clear data that agricultural investment abroad serves US interests. Beyond even the positive effect on trade, it is key to mitigating the rural hunger that creates the conditions where states fail, mass migration increases and terrorism thrives, threatening to pull US forces back into foreign entanglements.