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

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land In French Port

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching 'Fortress Europe' More

Video Westgate Mall Attack Survivors Confront Painful Memories

On anniversary of terror attack, survivors discuss how they have coped with trauma they experienced that day More

New Hints That Dark Matter Exists

New evidence from International Space Station hints at existence of dark matter and dark energy 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.
Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calaisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 19, 2014 5:04 PM
The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video CERN Accelerator Back in Business

The long upgrade of the Large Hadron Collider is over. The scientific instrument responsible for the discovery of the Higgs boson -- the so-called "God particle" -- is being brought up to speed in time for this month's 60th anniversary of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known by its French acronym CERN. Physicists hope the accelerator will help them uncover more secrets about the origins of the universe. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid