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.


    Steve Baragona

    Steve Baragona is an award-winning multimedia journalist covering science, environment and health.

    He spent eight years in molecular biology and infectious disease research before deciding that writing about science was more fun than doing it. He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a master’s degree in journalism in 2002.

    You May Like

    In Britain, The Sun Still Doesn’t Shine

    Invoking Spitfires and Merlin, Leave voters insist country can be great again, following surprising 'Brexit' vote last week

    Double Wave of Suicide Bombings Puts Lebanon, Refugees on Edge

    Following suicide bombings in Christian town of Al-Qaa, on Lebanon's northeast border with Syria, fears of further bombings have risen

    US Senators Warned on Zika After Failing to Pass Funding

    Zika threats and challenges, as well as issues of contraception and vaccines, spelled out as lawmakers point fingers

    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.
    Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeasti
    X
    June 29, 2016 6:15 PM
    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora