News / USA

US Support of Farmers in Hungry Countries Gets Passing Grade

Obama administration wins praise for focusing global attention on agriculture in the developing world

A farmer separates grains from weeds of barley in Lalitpur, near Kathmandu, April 26, 2011.
A farmer separates grains from weeds of barley in Lalitpur, near Kathmandu, April 26, 2011.

Multimedia

Audio

A new report card gives the United States a B-minus for its support of farmers in hungry countries.

When U.S. President Barack Obama came to office, he said he would make it a priority to improve agriculture in the developing world. Noting the instability that can stem from hunger and poverty, administration officials often link food security to national security.

The Chicago Council for Global Affairs, which issued the report card, assessed U.S. agricultural development aid efforts on a scale from "A" for excellent to "F" for failing.

"These grades are pretty good. The glass is not half empty. The glass is half full," says Dan Glickman, co-chair of the council who is also a former U.S. agriculture secretary.

Glickman finds good and bad news in the report which was presented at a Washington, D.C., conference this week.

Good news

In the past two years, the Obama administration has won praise for helping focus global attention on agriculture in the developing world. The administration has pledged $3.5 billion to support farmers in developing countries and helped to orchestrate a $22-billion commitment from other industrialized countries.

That marked a turnaround after decades in which the U.S. government joined other major donors in steadily shrinking support for agriculture.

"So, we start from the spot of not having done much at all to now having an aggressive, active program, and that having happened only in a very short period of time," says former U.N. World Food Program head Catherine Bertini, co-chair of the Chicago Council group.

In that short time, the report notes that support has grown substantially for agricultural research and education in developing countries and for building essential infrastructure that will catalyze economic growth. Positive changes at the agencies responsible for agricultural development were noted with the report card's highest grade: a B-plus.

Glickman says overall, the progress on agricultural development has been substantial. "The attention to this issue that has been received over the last two years has been unprecedented in this country. And there is an opportunity to demonstrate real results and permanently reduce the incidence of global poverty."

Bad News

However, the report says the bad news is that the U.S. government is not taking full advantage of the opportunity.

Support for agricultural research and education received B-minus grades. The report says farmer education efforts are improving, but deserve a bigger push. And while U.S. universities have increased their work in developing countries, support for those countries' own research institutions is a weak point.

The low point on the report card is a "D" grade for policies that hurt farmers in other countries, including support for maize-based ethanol and other biofuels.

The Obama administration's head of agricultural development, Julie Howard, says the report provides valuable oversight. However, she also adds, "I personally think the report is missing a central achievement over the last three to four years. And that is looking at, how do we do this in a more country-driven way?"

Howard says, rather than letting donors drive the agenda as they often have, the U.S. initiative responds to priorities and plans the countries themselves produce.

"Our efforts will be sustainable if our country partners lead the way and say, 'This is what we want to do and how can you help us do those things?'"

Those efforts will also be sustainable, she adds, by involving the private sector more than previous development aid typically has. She says when private businesses have an incentive to get involved, development aid projects are more likely to spark real economic growth.

You May Like

Captured IS Militants Explain Why They Fought

Fighters from Turkey, Syria tell VOA Kurdish Service what drew them to extremism, jihad More

Security Experts Split on Kenyan Barrier Wall

Experts divided on whether initiative aiming to keep out al-Shabab militants is long-awaited solution or misguided effort More

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Officials say they hope to turn Manila into the next Macau, which has long been Asia’s gambling hub 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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More