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Global Food Security

Today, 842 million people around the world—12 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 70 percent by 2050. To meet this need, production in developing countries will need to almost double.

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 2009 and 2013, U.S. agricultural exports to developing countries grew 56 percent, significantly outpacing the 33% growth rate for developed countries. Exports to Southeast Asia alone grew 72%.

Building Local Capacity, Increasing Productivity, and Improving Markets and Trade

  • Between 2009 and 2013, USDA's international food aid programs benefited about 44 million individuals globally with assistance valued at nearly $1.7 billion.
  • USDA staff members are strategically placed in more than 160 countries to monitor agricultural matters globally.
  • Between 2009 and 2013, USDA's McGovern- Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program supported the education, child development, and food security of more than 23 million of the world's poorest children.
    1. An estimated 650,000 Kenyan children are currently benefitting from hunger programs at more than 2,000 schools, due to $77.8 million in support that USDA has provided to the World Food Program over the past decade.
    2. In the Congo, USDA support to the International Partnership for Human Development has helped boost school enrollment by nearly 24 percent while reducing the school drop-out rate by more than 50 percent and cutting absenteeism—mainly caused by malaria—by 66 percent.
    3. In Honduras, multi-year support from USDA has enabled Catholic Relief Services (CRS) to work with more than 2,000 teachers and administrators, focusing on early-grade reading and math assessment for more than 53,000 school aged children. In addition, CRS provided educational materials and school supplies, and mobilizing more than 500 community organizations to recruit and train volunteer substitute teachers.
  • Between 2009 and 2013, USDA's Borlaug Fellowship Program provided training and collaborative research opportunities to 390 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.
  • During those same years, USDA's Cochran Fellowship Program trained 2,631 agricultural professionals worldwide in areas related to agricultural trade, agribusiness development, management, policy, and marketing.

Feed the Future: Government-Wide Effort to Combat Global Hunger

In 2009, 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 four 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 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.

  • Since 2010, USDA has aligned its programs with Feed the Future in order to support agriculture development in target countries and regions including Ghana, Kenya, East Africa, Bangladesh, Haiti, Guatemala and Central America.
  • Last year, in the targeted Feed the Future countries and regions, nearly 145,000 individuals received USDA agricultural productivity or food security training, seven critical policy reforms were adopted with USDA assistance, and $20 million in microloans was disbursed.
  • The U.S. helped launch the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program, an international, multilateral trust fund that has already awarded $1.35 billion to finance country development plans in 67 low-income countries, with 13 million beneficiaries.
  • 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 10 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, Tanzania, and Bangladesh.

Driving Innovative Research and Technologies

  • In 2013, Secretary Vilsack launched a global Open Data 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. Through the use and application of the global Open Data initiative, economic opportunities for farmers and the health of consumers can be improved.
  • In 2010, the USDA and United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Norman Borlaug Commemorative Research Initiative launched a new era of partnership on research.
    1. Under this initiative, USDA is conducting research on wheat rust, a major threat to wheat production worldwide, and on aflatoxin, a toxic fungus that infects groundnuts and other crops, and causes illness in humans.
    2. Other research includes developing a vaccine for East Coast fever, a major killer of cattle in East Africa, and supporting research to enhance animal, grain, and legumes production.
    3. 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.
    4. In Guatemala, Haiti, Bangladesh, Kenya, and Ghana, USDA has a number of new technologies under research, 12 of which are being field tested and four have been introduced locally.