Bread for the World’s new Hunger Report raises the stakes right from its very first sentence:
“2011 is a time of opportunity to achieve lasting progress against global hunger and malnutrition.”
There’s plenty of numbers-watching going on in Washington D.C. and other world capitals these days. Mainly, the numbers with currency symbols in front of them, the numbers in government budgets.
Hidden hunger was brought out into the open in a big way this week – and so was a promising solution.
Throughout this past summer, in the long-suffering hills of western Rwanda, legions of farmers toiled at their sloped plots. With hoes and axes, they crafted flat, wide terraces and a simple water-management system that would keep valuable topsoil in place.
It is lamentable that the deep and persistent economic woes in the U.S. and Europe are breeding a certain dangerous myopia in international development affairs.
Speaking on a panel earlier this year, I was outlining the gathering momentum in the fight against hunger: The push of the Obama administration to create Feed the Future, the commitments of the G8 and G20 leaders to increase support for agriculture development, the greater involvement of philanthropists, corporations, universities and humanitarian agencies.
To honor this year’s winners of the World Food Prize, this column will go easy on the outrage and heavy on the inspire.
We – “we” being the rich world — asked the poorest countries to draw up comprehensive agriculture investment plans and tell us which were the highest priority projects to boost food production. Do that, we informed them, and we will help finance the projects from a new multi-donor trust fund called the Global Agriculture Food Security Program, or GAFSP.
Listen to these African voices:
“As our governments take action, we need the international community to do its part as well. A green revolution in Africa depends on locally driven solutions plus reliable donor support. Neither ingredient is sufficient on its own – both are indispensable.”
In Rwanda earlier this summer, I visited a rural project with the lyrical name, IBYIRINGIRO. It means “hope” in Kinyarwanda, and trumpets this slogan: “that in which we have faith for a better tomorrow.”
“Today a hoe. Tomorrow a tractor.”
In Africa, the Way to an agriculture revolution has long been clear. The original Green Revolution in Asia, in the 1960s and ‘70s, provides the classic roadmap.
It is no coincidence that a neighbor of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa here is Embrapa, the Brazilian agricultural research corporation. For Embrapa was one of the main players engineering the green revolution in Brazil.
In the Bungoma Chemist shop, where you can get almost everything you need to battle a cold, de-worm your cattle or fertilizer your crops, something revolutionary is now on sale.
It’s maize harvesting time in western Kenya. Tearing the husks off her corn, Jentrix Mesache can hardly believe her eyes – or her ears.