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President Obama Announces Major Progress Through Feed the Future Initiative

WASHINGTON, D.C.—President Obama today announced that Feed the Future, his signature global hunger and food security initiative, is delivering on his promise to reduce hunger and malnutrition through agricultural development. New data demonstrate that, thanks in part to Feed the Future and other U.S. Government efforts, stunting rates have declined in Ethiopia, Ghana, and parts of Kenya by between 9 and 33 percent in recent years, while areas in Uganda have seen a 16 percent drop in poverty.

During a tour of Ethiopian food processor Faffa Foods as part of his fourth presidential visit to Africa, President Obama highlighted progress across the continent made through Feed the Future. As part of its comprehensive approach, the multi-agency initiative supports food processors like Faffa Foods with technical assistance through a jointly funded public-private partnership between the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and Partners in Food Solutions, a non-profit consortium of multinational companies that works to help smallholder farmers.

 “The number of hungry people in the world has dropped by 100 million in the last decade, in large part due to coordinated efforts around the world to eradicate hunger and end extreme poverty,” said USAID’s Acting Administrator Alfonso Lenhardt. “But there is much work left to do. Today, 795 million people still suffer from hunger and malnutrition, conditions that can drive instability and turmoil and continue the vicious cycle of poverty. Through Feed the Future, governments, civil society, development partners, and the private sector will continue to work together to ensure everyone has the nutritious food they need to lead healthy and productive lives”

During a press conference in Kenya on Saturday, President Obama said of the initiative: “[I]f you look at our Feed the Future program…we’ve got millions of farmers across this continent who, as we speak, have benefitted from increased yields, increased incomes, greater access to small loans that are making them more productive, greater access to market, linking up with technology in ways that assure that they get a fair price — all of which, since Africa is still disproportionately rural, is increasing incomes and spurring growth and building a middle class in the entire continent…it is a model that’s working and then has been supplemented with private sector investments that is further advancing the development of a more productive agricultural sector across the African continent.”

In 2014 Feed the Future and other U.S. Government programs reached nearly 9 million children in Africa with nutrition interventions, and helped nearly 2.5 million smallholder farmers gain access to new tools or technologies such as high-yielding seeds, fertilizer application, soil conservation and water management. The 2015 Feed the Future progress report results summary, released today, includes analysis of data trends from recent years and emphasizes how these results are contributing to broader impacts and long-term outcomes — such as downward trends in both poverty and stunting:

  • In Ethiopia, there was a 9 percent reduction in stunting nationally between 2011 and 2014.
  • Ghana experienced a 33 percent decline in stunting nationally between 2008 and 2014.
  • Kenya saw a more than 25 percent reduction in stunting in the areas of the former Eastern and Nyanza provinces, where Feed the Future programs have been concentrated, from 2009 to 2014.
  • In Uganda, data show a 16 percent decrease in poverty in rural areas, including where Feed the Future works, between 2009-2010 to 2012-2013. National poverty levels also declined from 24.5 percent in 2009-2010 to 19.7 percent in 2012-2013.

At the tour today, President Obama met Gifty, an Ethiopian smallholder farmer who is now able to support her family with the help of Feed the Future. Gifty is one of millions of smallholders who illustrate the story behind Feed the Future’s impact. The 2015 Feed the Future progress report contains the stories of several other farmers and food producers, and also previews additional impact data from across Feed the Future focus countries in Asia and Latin America, demonstrating that in countries supported by Feed the Future and other large-scale U.S. Government efforts, local capacity to support food security, agricultural productivity and good nutrition continue to grow stronger. 

Globally, in FY2014 alone, Feed the Future investments:

  • Reached nearly 19 million households via assistance or training, and helped nearly 7 million farmers gain access to improved tools or technologies such as high-yielding seeds, fertilizer application, soil conservation and water management;
  • Trained nearly 1.5 million people in child health and nutrition, and reached more than 12 million children with nutrition interventions; and
  • Helped Feed the Future-supported farmers experience more than half a billion dollars in new agricultural sales, which directly impacts farmer incomes.

During today’s visit, President Obama also announced several exciting new food security commitments:

  • A $140 million Feed the Future package of investments to support partnerships to produce, market and utilize climate-resilient seeds — including maize, legumes, rice, and wheat — to smallholder farmers in 11 African countries. This will help smallholders sustainably increase productivity and is expected to benefit more than 11 million households across Africa over the next three years.
  • An additional $2 million commitment from USAID, matched by partner DuPont Pioneer, to reach 100,000 Ethiopian farmers by 2018 with new high-yield seed technologies and technical assistance.
  • Plans for a commitment of over $150 million in additional funding for Resilience in the Sahel-Enhanced (RISE), a program helping 1.9 million of the most vulnerable people in the Sahel break the cycle of crisis, escape chronic poverty, and reduce the need for humanitarian assistance. This will bring the total commitment to RISE to approximately $290 million over 5 years.

These efforts should help ensure that more and more individual smallholder farmers will continue to contribute to – and benefit from – participation in the global economy.

The 2015 Feed the Future progress report results summary and Africa chapter are available now, with full chapters of results from Feed the Future focus countries in Asia and Latin America to be released later this year at 

This release originally appeared on the USAID website. 

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