News / Africa

Food Security Efforts Get Boost from International Experts

Multimedia

Audio
Joe DeCapua

Fifteen experts from around the world have been enlisted to help to help formulate policies to ensure food security and avoid a repeat of the food crisis of a few years ago.

They’ll serve as advisors to the Committee on World Food Security, an inter-governmental body of the United Nations.

Among those named to the High-Level Panel of Experts is Catherine Bertini, former head of the U.N. World Food Program.  Bertini, now a professor at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at the University of Syracuse.

“The state of food security today is unfortunately trending in the wrong direction.  We had for many, many years positive trends, even though there were still many hungry people.”

But that’s changed.  She says, “As a result of the economic crisis, the earlier food crisis of a couple of years ago, the fuel increases -- all of these contributed to more food insecure people, more hungry people in the world. And unfortunately that has continued.”

Growing agriculture

The food crisis resulted in an international effort to boost agricultural production.  Bertini says that’s helped.

“Governments – both governments of developing countries and of donor countries – have realized that we must invest more in helping more productive agriculture and especially poor farmers be more productive.  And as a result, the African countries agreed to work toward 10 percent of their budgets to help support agriculture.”

Former WFP Executive Director Catherine Bertini
Former WFP Executive Director Catherine Bertini

Bertini praises the Obama administration and the U.S. Congress for recognizing the need to invest in agriculture and support smallholder farmers.  Many of those farmers are women.

“There are very exciting new commitments to try to change the situation,” she says.

Helping to steer the steering committee

Bertini and the others form the steering committee to lead the High level Panel of Experts, a new advisory body to the Committee on World Food Security.

“Whether it is a nutrition perspective or a straight agriculture perspective or research or whether it is organizational issues about the way the international community handles these matters, I think all of those will be on our plate,” she says.

The first steering committing meeting is expected this month.

“It’ll be exciting just to be in the room with so many of these folks that have had such long history and credibly positive experiences in agriculture.  But when we’re together, I’m sure we’ll have all sorts of ideas about things that the governments should be paying attention to to try and improve the situation for the hungry poor around the world,” she says.

Going green

Bertini spoke from Accra, Ghana, where she took part in a green revolution event.

“The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) is an African-led program,” she says, “chaired by Kofi Annan, and the CEO is…Namanga Ngongi of Cameroon.  And the mission of this organization is to raise the incomes and the production of smallholder farmers throughout sub-Saharan Africa.”

Hundreds of people attended the AGRA conference this past week from around the continent, as well as donor governments, including the U.S.

“The whole mission here is to say, how can we work together in order to help smallholder farmers?  Now, one of the ways AGRA is doing this is very different than how any organization has done it in the past.  And that’s because they’re engaging the private sector.  Agriculture is after all a business,” she says.

Bertini says it is a business whether someone owns a single hectare of land or thousands.  She adds that a key part to the future of food security is the “inter-connection” between governments and the private sector.

“If banks can be convinced to lend money to poor farmers,” she says,” to be able to invest in their land, that’s going to make a huge difference.  If agro dealers who sell small amounts of fertilizer and seeds can be trained to help give extension advice and business advice to small farmers, then that’s another way those small farmers are going to succeed,” she says.

The other members of the steering committee are:

Derek Byerlee (Australia), chairman of the Standing Panel on Impact Evaluation of the Consultative Group of International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).

Tewolde Berhan Gebre Egziabher (Ethiopia), director general of the Environmental Protection Authority of Ethiopia.

Lawrence Haddad (United Kingdom), director of the UK Institute of Development Studies.

Sheryl Lee Hendriks (South Africa), researcher at the University of Pretoria in South Africa.

Alain de Janvry (France), professor at the University of California at Berkeley.

Renato Maluf (Brazil), associate professor at the Federal Rural University of Rio Janeiro and president of the National Council of Food and Nutrition Security in Brazil.

Mona Mehrez Aly (Egypt), director of the Animal Health Research Institute of Egypt.

Carlos Perez del Castillo (Uruguay,) chairman of the Consortium of CGIAR centers.

Roelof Rabbinge (Netherlands), professor at the Wagenigen University in the Netherlands and Chairman of the Science Council of the CGIAR.

Maryam Rahmanian (Iran), research associate at the Centre for Sustainable Development in Iran.

Monkombu Sambasivan Swaminathan (India), agricultural scientist acclaimed by TIME magazine as one of the 20 most influential Asians of the 20th century.

Huajun Tang (China), research professor and vice-president of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences.

Igor Tikhonovich (Russia), director of the All-Russia Research Institute for Agricultural Microbiology at the Russian Federation.

Niracha Wongchinda (Thailand), senior fishery expert.

You May Like

On Everest, Helicopters Rescue Stranded Climbers

Choppers transport some of more than 100 mountaineers trapped after deadly quake, avalanches More

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

In 2005, a Paris suburb exploded into violence after two teenagers were electrocuted as they hid from police; since then, somethings have changed, others not More

US, Japan Announce Historic Revision of Defense Cooperation Guidelines

Nations say new guidelines will be 'cornerstone for peace and security' in Asia-Pacific region while also serving as 'platform for a more stable international security environment' More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europei
X
Henry Ridgwell
April 26, 2015 10:36 PM
Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video ‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europe

Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

January’s terrorist attacks and fears of more to come are casting a spotlight on France’s neglected suburbs. Home to many immigrants, and sometimes hubs of crime, they were rocked by rioting a decade ago. Lisa Bryant visited the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois, where the 2005 violence first broke out, and has this report about what has changed and what has not.
Video

Video Gay Marriage Goes Before US Supreme Court

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether gay people have a constitutional right to marriage. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the case could lead to the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage, or a continuation of the status quo in which individual states decide whether to recognize gay unions.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.

VOA Blogs