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

US Firms Concerned About China's New Cyber Regulations

New rules would require technology companies doing business in financial sector to hand over their source code, adopt Chinese encryption algorithms More

WHO Focus on Ebola Shifts to Ending Outbreak

Focus to be less on building facilities and more on efforts to find infected people, manage their cases, engage with communities and ensure proper burials More

US Scientist Who Conceived of Groundbreaking Laser Technology Dies

Charles Townes, Nobel laureate, laser co-creator paved way for other scientific discoveries: CDs, eye surgery, metal cutters to name a few technologies that rely on lasers 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.
Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Webi
X
January 29, 2015 9:58 AM
Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video As Ground Shifts, Obama Reviews Middle East Strategy

The death of Saudi Arabia’s king, the collapse of a U.S.-friendly government in Yemen and a problematic relationship with Israel’s leadership are presenting a new set of complications for the Obama administration and its Middle East policy. Not only is the U.S. leader dealing with adversaries in Iran, the Islamic State and al-Qaida, but he is now juggling trouble with traditional allies, as White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Saved By a Mistake - an Auschwitz Survivor's Story

Dagmar Lieblova was 14 when she arrived at Auschwitz in December 1943, along with her entire Czech Jewish family. All of them were to die there, but she was able to leave after several months due to a bureaucratic mix-up which saved her life. Now 85, with three children and six grandchildren, she says she has a feeling of victory. This report by Ahmad Wadiei and Farin Assemi, of RFE/RL's Radio Farda is narrated by RFE’s Raymond Furlong.

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

All About America

AppleAndroid