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Food Security

USDA supports global food security through in-country capacity building, basic and applied research, and support for improved market information, statistics and analysis. With 870 million people around the world who do not have access to a sufficient supply of nutritious and safe food, establishing global food security is important not only to hundreds of millions of hungry people, but also to the sustainable economic growth of these 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. U.S. agricultural exports to developing countries in Southeast Asia, Central America, and Sub-Saharan Africa have grown at more than twice the annual rate as compared to developed countries. U.S. poultry meat exports to Sub-Saharan Africa expanded 180 percent from 2009 to 2011.

Given population growth and rising incomes, it is estimated that the demand for food will rise by 70 to 100 percent by 2050. To meet this need, the United Nations estimates that production in developing countries will need to almost double.

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

USDA is strategically placed in over 80 countries constantly monitoring agricultural matters globally. Since 2010, USDA has aligned appropriate programs to Feed the Future plans to support agriculture development in target countries and regions: Ghana, Kenya, East Africa, Bangladesh, Haiti, Guatemala and Central America. plans to support agriculture development in target countries and regions: Ghana, Kenya, East Africa, Bangladesh, Haiti, Guatemala and Central America. Our international food aid programs benefited about 34 million individuals globally with assistance valued at nearly $1.6 billion.

The McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program supported the education, child development, and food security of more than 16 million of the world's poorest children. The program provides U.S. agricultural products, as well as financial and technical assistance, for school feeding and maternal and child nutrition projects.

The Borlaug Fellowship Program brought 272 scientists to the U.S. and focuses on research topics such as food safety, soil fertility, post harvest technology, biotechnology, animal health, and rural development.

The Cochran Fellowship Program trained 1,732 individuals worldwide in topics such as regulatory and certification systems, agricultural production, biotechnology, and plant and animal disease control.

In 2011, the annual Food Security Assessment was expanded 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.

We have undertaken significant efforts to build local in-country capacity to confront food security, including:

  • Training small farmers and foreign officials on plant and animal health systems, risk analysis, and avoiding post harvest loss;
  • Completing assessments on climate change;
  • Increasing agricultural productivity.

In the targeted Feed the Future countries and regions, nearly 60,000 individuals have received USDA agricultural productivity or food security training, 7 critical policy reforms have been adopted with USDA assistance, and $20 million in microloans have been disbursed.

Feed the Future - A 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 three years, the United States invested over $3.7 billion to address global food security, exceeding the President's commitment, and launched his Feed the Future Initiative.

In 2010, the U.S. helped launch the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program, an international, multilateral trust fund that has already awarded $658 million to finance country development plans in 18 low-income countries, with 8.2 million beneficiaries.

Learn more about President Obama's launch of the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition to Fight Global Hunger.

Driving Innovative Research and Technologies

Under Feed the Future, research investments specifically designed for global food security have more than doubled, from $50 million in 2008 to $120 million in 2011. The Feed the Future Research Strategy (PDF, 657KB), developed by USAID and USDA, focuses on the four agro-climatic zones where global poverty and hunger are concentrated, and targets two-to-four major problems in each zone to maximize impact on poor families.

In 2010, the USDA and USAID Norman Borlaug Commemorative Research Initiative launched a new era of partnership on research. 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. 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. In Guatemala, Haiti, Bangladesh, Kenya, and Ghana, USDA has a number of new technologies under research, 12 of which are being field tested and 4 have been introduced locally.

USDA researchers sequenced the genome of the wheat, as well as the wheat stem rust pathogen which threatens to destroy wheat crops worldwide and distributed new wheat germplasm globally to ensure productive harvests. USDA researchers have also released 1,575 genetic variations in beans.

Learn more about agriculture and food security efforts underway at the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Tools and Resources for Food Security