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

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Christmas Gains Popularity in Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal 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.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid