USDA Results: Global Food Security
Today, 795 million people around the world, 11 percent of the global population, do not have access to a sufficient supply of safe and nutritious food. The United Nations estimates that worldwide demand for food will increase 60 percent by 2050. Meanwhile, climate change, left unmitigated, could reduce yields by up to ten percent and also make current arable land unfit for agricultural production.
Establishing global food security is important not only to hundreds of millions of hungry people, but also to the sustainable economic growth of developing nations and the long-term economic prosperity of the United States. As we help countries become more food secure and raise incomes, we also expand markets for American producers. For example, between fiscal years 2005 and 2015, U.S. agricultural exports to developing countries grew 152 percent, significantly outpacing the 83 percent for developed countries. Exports to Southeast Asia grew 210 percent while exports to Central and South America grew by 152 and 294 percent, respectively.
In 2009, the Group of 8 (G8) nations committed to act with the scale and urgency needed to achieve sustainable global food security and to be accountable and coordinate with country development plans. In the subsequent years, the United States has invested over $3.75 billion to address global food security, exceeding the President's commitment, and launched his Feed the Future Initiative. USDA is a key member of the whole of government effort on Feed the Future and supports global food security through in-country capacity building, basic and applied research, and support for improved market information, statistics and analysis. Around the world, USDA has helped to train small farmers and foreign officials on plant and animal health systems, risk analysis, and avoiding post-harvest loss; completed assessments on climate change; and helped to increase agricultural productivity.
Building Local Capacity, Increasing Productivity, and Improving Markets and Trade
USDA staff members are strategically placed to monitor agricultural matters globally in more than 160 countries and assist in USDA's efforts to build local capacity. Since 2010, USDA has aligned its program with the Feed the Future Initiative to support agriculture development in select focus countries and regions - Ghana, Kenya, East Africa, Bangladesh, Haiti, Guatemala and Central America and worked in all 19 of the Initiative's priority countries.
From 2009-2015, USDA's international food aid programs aimed to benefit over 51 million individuals globally with assistance valued at nearly $2.4 billion.
Since its inception, USDA's McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program (McGovern-Dole) has supported the education, child development, and food security needs of about 40 million of the world's poorest children and mothers in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
- In fiscal year 2015, the McGovern-Dole program provided over 3 million children and their families with school meals or take home rations in the 15 Feed the Future countries where McGovern-Dole had active programs. The children and families participating in USDA-sponsored school feeding programs were in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
- With the support of the McGovern-Dole program, the United Nations World Food Program provided a daily breakfast of rice, canned fish, vitamin A-fortified vegetable oil, and yellow split peas to over 218,000 pre- and primary school students in the three Cambodian provinces of Siem Reap, Battambang, and Kampong Thom in 2015. The project also provides food scholarships, in the form of take home rations, to poor students as an income-based incentive to encourage poor food-insecure households to send their children to school regularly. This is expected to increase student attendance and retention rates and is directly supporting the Government's vision of achieving basic education for all.
- In order to support the sustainability of McGovern-Dole efforts, projects aim to create long-lasting public-private partnerships with businesses and producers. While USDA has only been tracking these data for two years, in 2015 alone, 167 public-private partnerships have been formed. Many of the public-private partnerships formed under the McGovern-Dole program are partnerships between producer groups who commit to providing food to local schools, supplementing food provided by USDA.
- In Mozambique, World Vision linked thirteen farmer groups to schools for the purpose of supplementing school meals with local foods. The strategy of linking local farmer groups to schools aligns with the Mozambique Ministry of Education's intention to increase the budget for school feeding, allowing schools to purchase food locally from participating farmer groups in the future. The selected farmer groups have the opportunity to receive improved seeds from World Vision with the understanding that a percentage of their harvest will be donated to the local primary school.
- In Mali, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) worked with 116 savings and internal lending community (SILC) groups, to contribute to project activities. SILC group members include parents of school children and also young mothers involved in child health and nutrition activities in the community. The groups pool their savings and make loans to other community members at low interest rates. The income generated from the interest on loans is then used to contribute to school infrastructure projects, an immunization program, and to buy additional food items for school canteens.
USDA's Food for Progress program helps developing countries and emerging democracies modernize and strengthen their agricultural sectors. The two principle objectives of Food for Progress are increasing agricultural productivity and expanding trade of agricultural products.
- In fiscal year 2015, over 174,000 individuals received training on agricultural sector productivity or food security training as a result of USDA assistance.
- The Honduras Food for Progress program implemented by USDA's partner TechnoServe, Inc., focused on the coffee and bean sector, trained over 8,900 men and 2,200 women in improved agricultural techniques and technologies. Bean farmers were trained in bean inoculation, improved bean varieties, and new cultivation techniques. In the coffee sector, the Food for Progress program trained Honduran public and private sector such as Good Agricultural Practices (GAP), post-harvest handling, and helping farmers better understand the causes of common coffee bean defects and expectations of international buyers making purchasing decisions. The application of new technologies and management practices in the coffee sector has resulted in an increase of $18 million in sales for farmers.
- As a result of USDA training in improved techniques and technologies, over 77,000 producers in 2015 have adopted one or more improved techniques or management practices. Through USDA's partner, Aga Khan Foundation, nearly 5,800 men and 1000 women in Mali have adopted improved farming practices in the cultivation of rice, millet, sorghum, and vegetables. Producers are adopting the improved practices that they have been trained in such as proper soil preparation, crop spacing, fertilizer use, crop irrigation, pest and disease management, and Farming as a Business.
- USDA Food for Progress programs often support increased access to and utilization of financial services in order to expand agricultural productivity and markets and trade. Making more financial loans shows that there is improved access to business development for producers, cooperatives, small and medium business enterprises-- including producers, service providers and manufacturers. In 2015, USDA partnerships provided over $16 million in agricultural and rural loans in Bangladesh, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Tanzania, and Uganda.
- The Food for Progress regional project, Agribusiness Investment for Market Stimulation (AIMS), implemented in partnership with Global Communities promotes agricultural sector growth in the Feed the Future priority countries of Kenya, Tanzania and Malawi. The project provides financing to small and medium sized agribusiness and training to businesses that work along the agricultural value chains, improving market linkages, increasing access to market information, and improving coordination of key businesses in the agricultural sector. In addition, USDA's partnership with the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) has led to an additional $50 million project investment for the development of a Loan Guarantee Facility to increase access to finance for small and medium sized agribusinesses. USDA expects to increase its partnership with OPIC to create similar investment synergies in other regions and countries in the future.
Two of USDA's premier trade and scientific exchange programs play an important role in USDA's food security initiatives:
- The Norman E. Borlaug International Agricultural Science and Technology Fellowship Program (Borlaug Fellowship Program) promotes food security and economic growth by providing training and collaborative research opportunities to fellows from developing and middle-income countries. Borlaug fellows are scientists, researchers, or policymakers who are in the early or middle stages of their careers.
- USDA's Borlaug Fellowship Program has provided training and collaborative research opportunities to approximately 700 scientists and policymakers from developing and middle-income countries, focusing on a wide range of agriculture-related topics including agronomy, veterinary science, nutrition, food safety, sanitary and phytosanitary issues, natural resource management, and biotechnology.
- USDA's Cochran Fellowship Program has trained over 16,300 agricultural professionals worldwide in areas related to agricultural trade, agribusiness development, management, policy, and marketing.
Driving Innovation through Research and Technologies
Since 2009, USDA has expanded analysis and reporting to increase core data, statistics, and analysis of global agricultural systems. In 2011, USDA expanded its annual Food Security Assessment to include 77 countries; completed assessments of agricultural statistics and market information in ten Feed the Future countries and identified key areas where improvement is needed; and conducted in-depth assessments of the capacity of the statistical systems of Ghana, Haiti, Malawi, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda and Bangladesh.
- In 2015, Haiti conducted the Agricultural Production Survey country-wide for each of the three growing seasons and prepared to produce market analysis and outlook reports. Tanzania conducted the first country-wide Annual Agricultural Sample Survey for the 2015 crop year. Also in 2015, Armenia conducted its first census of agriculture. The Republic of Georgia conducted a census of agriculture in conjunction with its census of population. Additionally, Georgia expanded its annual survey program to include objective measurement surveys for wheat, apples and maize.
Important research on solving food production issues continues:
- USDA researchers sequenced the genome of wheat and the wheat stem rust pathogen, which threatens to destroy wheat crops worldwide, and distributed new wheat germplasm globally to reduce the risk of unproductive harvests. USDA continues to support efforts to bring stem rust resistant genes into wheat breeding, both for UG99 and more recent strains that appeared in Africa over a year ago.
- USDA participates in the International Wheat Yield Partnership (IWYP), a global consortium of funders, national research organizations and private companies that have made commitments to support research to develop breakthrough technologies to increase the genetic yield potential of wheat by 50 percent to meet the increasing demand for food. IWYP promotes public-private partnerships and provides a pathway for the development of new technologies for smallholder farmers. In 2015, USDA partnered with IWYP and issued a request for application synchronized with IWYP's goals and activities.
- USDA continues research to combat aflatoxin (mycotoxins that can be lethally toxic in high dosages or cause dilatory health effects over the long-term in smaller dosages) through genetic resistance in maize and using RNAi approaches in peanut. In addition, USDA continues to work with partners in Africa to deploy biological control in corn (maize) and other crops susceptible to aflatoxin.
- In partnership with USAID, USDA collaborated with scientists in the Middle East to screen the USDA cotton germplasm collection for resistance to cotton leaf curl virus (CLCuV). In 2016, USDA released two resistant germplasm lines to cotton breeders for developing CLCuV-resistant varieties.
- Upland cotton accounts for more than 90 percent of cultivated cotton worldwide and is the primary source of renewable textile fiber. It is a tetraploid species two genomes in one and thus was extremely challenging to sequence and analyze. The cotton genome sequence and structure were completed by Chinese and U.S. researchers. The team developed the first "reference genome" of a tetraploid cotton species laying the foundation for development of new cultivars with longer, stronger fiber; increased yield; and enhanced disease resistance.
- In partnership with USAID, USDA is part of an international consortium to develop a safe and economically sustainable vaccine for the pathogen that causes East Coast Fever, a devastating disease of cattle of eastern Africa.
- USDA is cooperating with over a dozen institutions in the United States and developing countries to provide resource poor farmers with dry bean cultivars with improved productivity and quality. Researchers have identified broad spectrum resistance to rust in large seeded landrace cultivars that originate from Tanzania. These landraces, with confirmed resistance in field trials in Africa and the United States, provide breeders with a valuable source of rust resistance for improving large-seeded African cultivars used by small-holder farmers.
- USDA is bringing genomics tools to improve productivity in small ruminants, which has resulted in the formation of the African Goat Improvement Network, a nexus for new collaborative partnerships. The final assembly of the goat reference genome was completed, which will benefit the goat genomics research community through improved tools and knowledge, and breeders/producers with knowledge of genome-enabled increased selection efficiency. A digital phenotype information collection system has been developed. Community-based breeding programs were initiated in Malawi and Uganda, partnered with sites in Ethiopia. South African cooperators are adopting this approach, as well.
- USDA, in partnership with the Department for International Development (DfID-UK) and Columbia University, supports the continued implementation of the Agricultural Model Intercomparison and Improvement Project (AgMIP). AgMIP is a major international effort linking the climate, crop, and economic modeling communities with cutting-edge information technology to produce improved crop and economic models and the next generation of climate impact projections for the agricultural sector. AgMIP is improving the characterization of world food security due to climate change and thereby assisting the enhancement of adaptation capacity in both developing and developed countries.
- USDA, in cooperation with USAID, is working with the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture and the Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI) to apply genomic solutions to controlling whitefly. Whiteflies are responsible for extensive damage to a broad range of important agronomic and horticultural crops worldwide as effective vectors of numerous, destructive viruses. In recent years, a new type of whitefly has become a major threat to cassava production in East Africa, being the vector of two important production diseases. Cassava is a major staple food in the developing world, providing a basic diet for over half a billion people, thus a major food security crop. USDA and BTI have completed the genome sequencing of whitefly, which helps researchers to test for whitefly control.
- USDA continues to support the Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN) initiative, which seeks to support global efforts to make agricultural and nutritionally relevant data available, accessible, and usable for unrestricted use worldwide. The initiative encourages collaboration and cooperation among existing agriculture and open data activities. Open access to research, and open publication of data, are vital resources for food security and nutrition, driven by farmers, farmer organizations, researchers, extension experts, policy makers, governments, and other private sector and civil society stakeholders participating in "innovation systems" and along value chains. In 2015, USDA and USAID announced $4 million in support of the GODAN Secretariat, matching a previously announced commitment of $4 million by the Government of the United Kingdom. In addition, the U.S. government announced a partnership with four GODAN partners (Governments of the United Kingdom and Kenya, ONE and PUSH) the vision of a 2016 GODAN Summit.
- USDA led efforts to increase the Global Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) Research Alliance (GFRA) by successfully recruiting four new strategic partners representing the leading FMD research institutes in Vietnam, India, Germany, and New Zealand. GFRA is a global research partnership platform that brings together FMD researchers from around the world to coordinate and generate scientific knowledge and discover the tools to successfully prevent, control and eradicate this significant production transboundary disease.
- USDA continues to develop remote sensing technologies for monitoring food production domestically and worldwide. Algorithms for satellite-based mapping of evapotranspiration, drought, and soil moisture are being used to improve projections for crop production. Additionally, techniques for sharpening coarse-scale satellite imagery into the finer scales needed for these applications are helping fill gaps in image acquisition created by satellite orbital timing and interference by clouds. These new tools will improve crop status and yield estimates conducted by USDA and the international Group on Earth Observations Global Agricultural Monitoring (GEOGLAM) project. The new remote sensing technologies fulfill requirements for accurate, timely information needed by strategic decision-makers and producers.