September 16, 2015

New Chicago Council Report: Building on the Success of US Investments in Global Food Security

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The Chicago Council on Global Affairs’ new report, Global Food Security by the Numbers, lays out what is known about current US investments in global food security and makes recommendations for how to clarify and track investments across a range of agencies, with the goal of strengthening America’s commitment to alleviating hunger and spurring agriculture and food system growth over the long term. 

Efforts such as Feed the Future have shown that US investments in global food security successfully support development and simultaneously position American businesses to take advantage of growth markets. Yet the report identifies challenges that could hinder the government’s ability to strategically direct and coordinate future food security investments and find solutions for measuring and improving food security programs, including:
  • Inconsistent definitions of the investments and activities that support global food security;
  • Lack of clarity about how the “whole-of-government” approach to global food security is implemented and the role of each agency involved;
  • Lack of transparency in how some global food security funds are directed; and
  • Lack of details on funding for improving nutrition — an increasingly recognized aspect of global food security— making it difficult to craft effective, cross-sectoral interventions.
To address these challenges, the report recommends:
  • Consistently defining global food security as funds directed toward agricultural development, nutrition interventions, food aid and agriculture and food research;
  • A more detailed federal government accounting on how Feed the Future monies are spent and comprehensively detailing nutrition funding;
  • Better leveraging the strengths of federal agencies and assigning clear agency roles and responsibilities – including potentially through legislation; and
  • Exercising congressional leadership by authorizing a long-term commitment to global food security.
The report was authored by Charles E. Hanrahan, Nonresident Senior Fellow at The Chicago Council and a former Congressional Research Service analyst who spent thirty years tracking US investments in agriculture and food.


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.


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| By Janet Fierro

Guest Commentary - Rural Niger Women find Opportunity and Hope through Innovative Business Model

When researchers set out to find natural ways to manage a crop-destroying pest in sub-Saharan Africa cowpea fields they knew the results could have significant positive impact on smallholder farmers. What they may not have expected was the significance of the cottage industry it inspired and the entrepreneurial spirit of the rural women of Niger who led it.