25 May 2012

Africa: U.S., Partners Step Up Agricultural Development Efforts

Washington — The United States has partnered with U.S. universities to research ways to raise higher-yielding crops and livestock.

And, in another partnership, the United States is joining with the governments of Ethiopia, Ghana and Tanzania to speed up sustainable agricultural production efforts in those countries.

Under the Feed the Future program, the universities will work with counterparts in developing countries, international research organizations and agribusinesses to provide agricultural development assistance that results in cost-effective and sustainable improvements in the diets and incomes of smallholder farmers. Feed the Future is the U.S. government's global hunger and food security initiative introduced in 2009. It supports country-owned plans to improve food security and promote transparency.

One partnership is the Global Nutrition Collaborative Research Support Program (Global Nutrition CRSP), launched in 2010 and managed by Tufts University in Massachusetts. Tufts works with Harvard University, also of Massachusetts, Johns Hopkins University in Maryland, Purdue University in Indiana and Tuskegee University in Alabama to help countries develop policies that can achieve improvements in child nutrition. The institutions are part of the U.S. land-grant university system, founded in the 1860s to focus on teaching agriculture, science and engineering. CRSP was launched by the U.S. Agency for International Development in 1975.

Other Feed the Future partnerships include one with Oregon State University to improve aquaculture production, one with the University of Wisconsin to help developing countries improve market access for farmers and one with Michigan State University to boost bean and cowpea production.

Virginia Tech University is developing approaches that smallholder farmers can take to minimize crop losses and to decrease pesticide use. The University of Nebraska is working to improve the nutritional quality and stable yields of sorghum, millet and other grains and to create more market access.

Colorado State University focuses on increasing the ability of livestock to adapt to climate change. The University of California is helping developing countries grow more fruits and vegetables and protect them from post-harvest loss.

Ethiopia, Ghana and Tanzania were selected for the three-year accelerated agricultural development program because of their record in improving agriculture and food security, President Obama said at a May 18 symposium on agriculture at USAID headquarters in Washington.

He said that in coming months the effort will expand to three additional African countries.

He also announced at the symposium that 45 companies -- from major international corporations to African cooperatives -- have pledged to invest more than $3 billion to kick off the effort.

"After decades in which agriculture and nutrition didn't always get the attention they deserved, we put the fight against global hunger where it should be, which is at the forefront of global development," Obama said.

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