By David Joslyn
This originally appeared on the Huffington Post.
Finally, it seems that everyone concerned about global food security is talking about the role of women in growing, preparing, and marketing the world's food. At the Chicago Council on Global Affairs' Symposium on Global Agriculture and Food Security last week in Washington, President Obama emphasized that most small farmers in Africa are women and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reminded the 700 or so participants in this important symposium that "the modern face of hunger is often a woman's face, because in many parts of the world, women still eat last and eat least." Clinton was emphatic that the new food security initiative just announced that day by the President would not be successful if developing and developed country partners committed to this initiative did not make significant strides towards gender equality.
Strong women's voices were heard last week in Washington in tune with Secretary Clinton. Catherine Bertini, Beverly Oda, Ertharin Cousin, Gayle Smith, Ann Veneman, Ellen Kullman, Kristalina Georgieva, Jacqueline Mkindi, Eleni Gabre-Madhin, and Janet Chigabatia-Adama, all leaders in their own right in the fight to end hunger and poverty called for women to have more access to land, credit, improved agriculture inputs like seeds and pest control methods, and better infrastructure linking the farm to the market, where they must sell most of their production. They were clear that gender equality is not just an option.
By Roger Thurow
This originally appeared on the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's Impatient Optimist Blog.
Zipporah Biketi didn’t attend the G8 meeting of the rich and powerful nations last weekend at Camp David. But still she was at the center of it.
President Obama, hosting the summit of the world’s leading industrialized countries, forged a New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition. As the President described it, the alliance is an “all hands on deck” call for African governments to design and implement their own agricultural development projects with the concerted support of donor governments and the private sector.
At the core of the New Alliance and a gathering movement of similar efforts, like those of the Gates Foundation,ONE’s THRIVE, Oxfam’s GROW, and the World Economic Forum’ Grow Africa are the smallholder farmers of Africa, who are seen as indispensable if the world is to meet the great challenge of doubling food production by the year 2050 to satisfy the demand of a global population that is growing in size and prosperity.
Farmers like Zipporah.
May 18, 2012
Ronald Reagan Building, Washington, D.C.
Thank you so much. Thank you, everybody. Please have a seat. Thank you. Well, good morning, everybody. Thank you, Catherine Bertini, and Dan Glickman and everyone at the Chicago Council. We were originally going to convene, along with the G8, in Chicago. But since we’re not doing this in my hometown, I wanted to bring a little bit of Chicago to Washington. It is wonderful to see all of you. It is great to see quite a few young people here as well. And I want to acknowledge a good friend. We were just talking backstage -- he was my inspiration for singing at the Apollo -- Bono is here, and it is good to see him.
Now, this weekend at the G8, we’ll be represented by many of the world's largest economies. We face urgent challenges -- creating jobs, addressing the situation in the eurozone, sustaining the global economic recovery. But even as we deal with these issues, I felt it was also important, also critical to focus on the urgent challenge that confronts some 1 billion men, women and children around the world -- the injustice of chronic hunger; the need for long-term food security.
By Roger Thurow
Too poor, too remote, too insignificant. That was the unofficial mantra behind the neglect of smallholder farmers in Africa for the past four decades. It was recited by the farmers’ own governments, by rich world governments, by development institutions large and small, by the private sector. It has left Africa’s farmers far behind those in the rest of the world. It has left them unable to feed their own families throughout the year. It has given rise to that horrible oxymoron “hungry farmers.”
Hopefully, that mantra – and the mindset it fronted – was junked forever this weekend and the neglect reversed. At the Chicago Council’s Symposium on Food and Nutrition Security and at the G8 summit at Camp David, the smallholder farmers were put on center stage – although few were actually in attendance – and showered with attention. The powerful and the rich trained their focus on the hungriest and the poorest. Their overwhelming consensus was that the smallholder farmers of Africa – most of whom are women -- are indispensable in the great global challenge of doubling food production by 2050 to meet the demands of a population that is growing in both size and prosperity.
Finally, the potential and performance of Africa’s smallholder farmers – as I chronicle in The Last Hunger Season -- was recognized and saluted and embraced. Well done.
By Lisa Dreier
Lisa Dreier is Director of Food Security and Development Initiatives at the World Economic Forum USA. For more information, visit our websites at http://www.weforum.org/agriculture or http://www.growafrica.com. This is cross-posted with the World Economic Forum's Blog.
What do three heads of state, 10 ministers, 116 companies and a group of farmer leaders have in common?
They all want to see growth in Africa’s agriculture sector.
So do we – which is why we found ourselves at the Grow Africa Investment Forum in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, last Wednesday, in a room packed with nearly 300 people at the closing session. The atmosphere in the room was slightly electric, suspenseful.
One by one, speakers rose to say they felt we were nearing a tipping point. “What an epic moment,” said Josette Sheeran, the new Vice-Chair of the World Economic Forum, whose previous position as head of the UN World Food Programme brought her face to face with the brutal realities of hunger. Last week she spoke in front of a room full of business leaders whose investments and technologies could dramatically boost African food production. “This [Forum] could transform the lives of millions of smallholder farmers,” she said, “this is the potential.”
To explain how we got to this moment, let me step back two years to a mysterious request from an African president.
By Gayle Smith and Dr. Rajiv Shah
Gayle Smith is Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director at the National Security Council and Dr. Rajiv Shah is USAID Administrator. This item was originally posted on the White House Blog.
This weekend, the leaders of the world’s largest economies and four African heads of state will come together at the 2012 G8 Summit at Camp David for a very different kind of discussion on Africa. Joined by private sector leaders for the first time, the President will host a dynamic discussion on global efforts to fight food insecurity and improve nutrition. In 2009 at the G8 Summit in L’Aquila, Italy, President Obama and G8 leaders responded to the spike in world food prices and focused attention on strengthening food security to help countries end hunger. Reversing decades of decline in global agricultural development, L’Aquila committed leaders to supporting comprehensive plans designed by the developing countries themselves and built around smarter, more focused investments.
By Danielle Nierenberg
The symposium’s afternoon sessions more specifically addressed the roles that business and innovation will be required to play in agricultural development. “[It is] the end of the era of the handout,” said Josette Sheeran, former head of the UN WFP and current Vice-Chairman of the World Economic Forum. “But the era of hand up is also dated and we’re in the era of the handshake.” According to the World Bank, 78 percent of African countries made regulatory reforms that make it easier to conduct business in their country in the past year. Connecting African farmers with partners on all levels of the value chain is key for the future of agricultural growth.
Attracting more youth to the field of agriculture was also heavily discussed. When asked what is the most important thing he’d like to see changed, Berry Marttin, Executive Board member, Rabobank, said, “That farming becomes attractive to young people.” This is an important idea given, that 65 percent of Africans are under the age of 25. Jeff Simmons, President Elanco Animal Health, agreed, saying, “We can’t have people moving away from rural areas with all of the opportunity in the next 50 years, we need to unlock the heart of the next generation—especially those who feel convicted to work in the fight against hunger.”
By Danielle Nierenberg
The development landscape is changing, and private and public leaders each have a vision for how the development landscape should change. Andrew Mitchell, Secretary of State for the Department for International Development (DFID), said that Africa’s major challenges will be a rapidly growing population, an increasing demand for food products, and climate change. He said that business as usual will not be enough and that the recently announced New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition will not business as usual.
By Danielle Nierenberg
President Barack Obama just delivered the keynote address, calling for G8 leaders to focus on the “injustice of chronic hunger” in the midst of world economic issues and austerity measures. He called for leaders to mobilize the $22 billion that was committed at the launch of L’Aquila in 2009 (of which only 22 percent has been delivered), continue GAFSP, and to mobilize more private capital into agriculture. He said our goal is to make emergency aid less and less relevant—that is how development is supposed to work.
To kick off this effort, Obama announced that 45 companies (both multinationals and African firms) have pledged $3 billion to fast track new agricultural projects that will reach those in need quicker. African agriculture will experience hugh leaps through the development of better seeds and better storage. Cell phone data is now being used to educate farmers about when to plant, harvest, and sell their products. A single bad season or change in season should not plunge a family into poverty. Obama reiterated a common theme we’ve been hearing today: that focus needs to be placed on nutrition—especially in children. It is the smart thing to do, improves a child’s potential, and lowers healthcare costs.