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U.S. State Department: Global Hunger and Food Security Initiative, Consultation Document, September 2009

Published September 29, 2009


The U.S. Department of State released this document on food security on September 28, 2009.


We are pursuing a comprehensive approach to food security based on country and community-led planning and collaboration with our partners. This consultation document is a living statement of principles and approach. In the coming weeks and months, we will work with partners to develop operational details to implement this strategy. We look forward to developing that detail in consultation with partners throughout the U.S. Government as well as with other countries, international institutions, civil society organizations, the private sector, and—most importantly—small scale farmers and related agriculture producers.

The Global Challenge

More than one billion people—nearly a sixth of the world’s population—suffer from chronic hunger. It is a crisis with devastating and far-reaching effects. Hunger weakens immune systems and stunts child development; half of all child deaths in the developing world are related to under-nutrition. Chronic hunger and under-nutrition primarily results from poverty—people who are poor often simply cannot afford to buy food. Hungry families spend over half their income to buy the food they need to survive, with little to fall back on. Food often cannot travel from surplus to deficit regions within and across countries because of poor roads and barriers at the border and checkpoints along the way. Without enough food, adults struggle to work and children struggle to learn, making sustainable economic development difficult to achieve.

The global community often uses the term “food security” to describe not only the availability of food, but the ability to purchase food. Food security means having a reliable source of food and sufficient resources to purchase it. A family is considered food secure when its members do not live in hunger or fear of starvation.

Ensuring global food security will only become more challenging in the future as demand for food is projected to increase by 50 percent over the next 20 years. Increased demand will come primarily from population and income growth in middle-income countries. Growth in agricultural productivity, already lagging globally, also faces increasing threats from climate change, scarce water supplies, and competition for energy resources from industry and urbanization. Because of climate change, rice yields are projected to fall more than 25 percent in most of the world’s poorest countries. As a result, an additional 24 million children could suffer from under-nourishment.

The 2008 food price crisis illustrates the kinds of disruptions we could experience more often in the future. The steep rise in prices affected families here in the United States and was particularly devastating for the poor in developing countries. Without significant improvements in agriculture productivity, market access, post-harvest infrastructure, and rural incomes, the imbalances between food supply and demand will increase food scarcity, food price volatility, and food insecurity.

An Opportunity for Change

Reducing hunger will set off a positive ripple effect across people’s lives, communities, countries—even continents. This cannot be accomplished by short term interventions; it requires addressing the underlying causes of chronic hunger. Advancing agriculture-led growth helps rural farmers—who are the majority of the world’s food insecure population—to grow more food to feed their families and sell more of their products in commercial markets. Increased revenue generates greater income to buy more to meet their needs, allowing the poor to pull themselves out of poverty.

Agriculture—including crops, livestock and aquaculture—is a powerful poverty reduction tool. According to the World Bank, for every one percent growth in agriculture, poverty declines by as much as two percent. And because the majority of those who are hungry live in rural areas and depend on agriculture and natural resources for their livelihoods, investing in agriculture is the most efficient way to target those in need. Investments in the agricultural sector also contribute to overall economic growth by increasing efficiency in the marketing chain, reducing the share of poor people’s income spent on food, and enabling them to purchase other goods and services, like education, health care, and housing. Most of the world’s remaining arable land is in developing countries, and dramatic gains in agricultural productivity are possible. Unleashing the potential of small-scale farmers and agribusinesses to produce and sell food will substantially reduce hunger and create a more resilient global food supply for everyone.

An Unprecedented Global Commitment

In 2003, African leaders made a historic pledge to increase their own investments in food security and agriculture-led growth through the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP). Since then, dozens of countries in Africa and beyond have been developing comprehensive agriculture development strategies. There is also increasing engagement by foundations, non-governmental organizations, and the private sector. The United Nations High Level Task Force on Food Security is leveraging the combined strength of a number of UN organizations and Bretton Woods institutions. And in 2009, at the L’Aquila G8 Summit, donors committed more than $20 billion to support a renewed global effort. The summit not only catalyzed new financial commitments; it also brought a commitment for a new approach.

The principles established at L’Aquila will be the same principles that guide this strategy:

  1. Adopt a comprehensive approach to food security that focuses on advancing agriculture-led growth, reducing under-nutrition, and increasing the impact of humanitarian food assistance;
  2. Invest in country-led plans;
  3. Strengthen strategic coordination–globally, regionally, and locally;
  4. Leverage the benefits of multilateral institutions; and
  5. Deliver on a sustained and accountable commitment.

A New Strategy to Reducing Hunger and Ensuring Global Food Security

While the principles set forth above will guide our efforts, the U.S. strategy for reducing hunger and ensuring food security is being developed through a consultative process within the U.S. government and with the global community and other stakeholders, including foundations, universities, non-governmental organizations, and the private sector. It will support and advance joint action to reduce hunger and under-nutrition throughout the developing world. Global stakeholders are in the process of defining a new business model for coordinated action to address food security. The United States is an active participant in these on-going processes. For example, supporters of the L’Aquila Summit food security principles recently met in Addis Ababa and Washington, D.C .to begin implementing the L’Aquila commitments. The outcome of these discussions, and future ones, will continue to refine and shape this strategy.

The United States alone cannot meet the global need to reduce hunger and promote food security. And foreign assistance alone will not end hunger or eliminate under-nutrition. We must draw on significant investments from other donors, the private sector, partner countries, and citizens themselves. Foreign assistance must play a key role in strengthening public institutions that catalyze private investment rather than hold it back. It must also invest in the experience of the small-scale farmers and business that can succeed by providing them with loans to jumpstart operations.

The most effective food security strategies come from those closest to the problems—not governments or institutions thousands of miles away. In the past, our efforts have been undermined by a lack of coordination, limited transparency, uneven monitoring and evaluation, and relationships with recipient countries based more on patronage than partnership. Going forward, we will emphasize consultation and careful analysis of impact and make corrections as we go. While we will increase our own efforts, success will ultimately rest on the shoulders of the farmers and entrepreneurs who wake up each day committed to grow their future. It also will rest on the national and local leaders in their countries who must foster environments where investments in agricultural development can thrive, with zero tolerance for the petty corruption and polices that restrict agriculture-led growth.

Goals and Strategic Choices

Our goals are to sustainably reduce chronic hunger, raise the incomes of the rural poor, and reduce the number of children suffering from under-nutrition. We will do this by working with the global community to advance comprehensive strategies that enable developing countries to ensure their citizens—now and in the future—will have access to the nutritious food they need for healthy and productive lives. We will work with all stakeholders to set targets and a timeframe for action to achieve these goals.

In addressing this challenge, the United States, other donors, and developing countries must make important strategic choices about our collective investments. These choices are informed by the work of a wide-range of government agencies, the private sector, non-governmental organizations, civil society, and the poor themselves.

These choices include:

  1. A targeted focus on agricultural development as a primary means of driving economic growth and reducing poverty in partner countries;
  2. Embracing a community and country-led approach where partner countries decide on their own needs, solutions, and development strategies;
  3. Building local capacity across central governments and communities and farm organizations;
  4. Coordinating donor and other stakeholder investments through a multi-stakeholder process that invests in country-led plans;
  5. Focusing on improving the productivity and market access of small-scale producers, particularly women, who make up the majority of small farmers in developing countries;
  6. Catalyzing private sector economic growth, finance, and trade with necessary investments in public goods as well as policy, legal, and regulatory reforms;
  7. The use of science and technology to sustainably increase agricultural productivity;
  8. Protecting the natural resource base upon which agriculture depends;
  9. Investing in improving nutrition for women and young children as a foundation for future growth; and
  10. Committing to a whole-of-U.S.-government approach that improves efficiency and increases the coordination and accountability of our investments.

The United States will maintain its strong commitment to providing emergency and humanitarian food assistance to meet urgent needs and mitigate unexpected disasters. Our humanitarian assistance should be matched by equally strong investments in agricultural development and nutrition to address the underlying causes of hunger.

1. Comprehensively Address the Underlying Causes of Hunger

A comprehensive approach will advance the following three key objectives:

  • Increase sustainable market-led growth across the entire food production and market chain: from the lab to the farm to the market to the table.
  • Prevent and treat under-nutrition.
  • Increase the impact of humanitarian food assistance and social safety-nets (i.e. temporary assistance that allows those who are poor to protect their assets during unexpected shocks).

Constraints and opportunities for reaching these objectives will vary among regions and countries. Supporting a country-led, inclusive, and consultative process is crucial to this strategy. The United States will engage in and align our support behind the priorities that arise from this process, rather than prescribe them. The following are key areas of potential investment:

Improve productivity
Gains in productivity come primarily from increases in yields, more efficient use of labor, mitigation of risk, improved links to market, and adoption of improved technologies and production practices. Gains in productivity must be made at a time of dwindling natural resources, increasing water scarcity, and a changing climate. This calls for careful attention to protecting the natural resource base, better management of water resources, and adapting agricultural production systems—crops, livestock, and fisheries—to a changing environment. Examples of the types of investments the United States will make to support partner countries include:

  • Increase access to inputs such as seed, feed, fertilizer, machinery, and irrigation systems at the right time, the right price, and in the right amounts. We will work with partners to develop private input industries, organize private dealer networks, expand sustainable irrigation and water management, and strengthen farmer organizations.

  • Expand access to knowledge. The delivery of knowledge to farmers, referred to as “extension services,” must be demand-driven, cost-effective, and address the needs of women producers. We will invest in strengthening the effectiveness and coverage of a range of public and private extension service delivery systems.

  • Increase access to financial services. Inadequate rural finance constrains the ability of small producers and agro-industries to invest in productivity and expand operations. We will support rural microfinance, community savings groups, innovative insurance mechanisms to reduce the risk of agricultural finance, weather-indexed insurance, and finance sector reforms that result in greater lending and growth.

  • Improve natural resource management to ensure sustainable gains in productivity and reduce the impact of agriculture on the environment. We will support a range of technologies and practices through research, extension, and policy reforms that improve soils, conserve precious water resources, protect biodiversity, increase carbon sequestration, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In many cases, technologies and practices can be a win-win for increasing farmer incomes and for protecting the environment.

Expand markets and trade
Improvements in productivity will not translate into higher farm incomes and reduced hunger unless surplus harvest and products can be sold in local, regional, and international markets. Agribusinesses are a crucial connection between small-scale producers and markets to purchase inputs and sell products. They are the link between producers and consumers through which handling, storage, processing, market information, transportation, and product distribution services are delivered. Examples of potential investments the United States will make to expand markets and trade include:

  • Expand market information for producers and enterprises. Greater access to market information will increase the ability of small-holder farmers to participate in formal and higher-value markets. To expand market information, we will support the expanded application of tools ranging from mobile phones for information sharing to posting daily market prices at trading centers that affect the prices farmers are able to command from buyers. We will also assist in strengthening producer organizations as conduits of market information and commercial commodity exchanges that increase price transparency and connect buyers to sellers.

  • Improve post-harvest market infrastructure to make markets work better for farmers. In Africa, for example, farmers often pay more than 80 percent of the market value of their crops for transportation and marketing. Post-harvest losses can reach 50 percent due to spoilage in storage and transit. Through bilateral and multilateral assistance, we will invest in public and private market and grading facilities, storage facilities, processing facilities, energy and telecommunication systems, and roads that deliver rural services and connect producers to markets. We will use credit guarantee programs and provide technical assistance to reduce policy and regulatory barriers to encourage private investment in these industries.

  • Create an enabling policy environment for agribusiness growth. Frequent and unpredictable public intervention in the agricultural sector deters private investment and limits the ability of farmers and businesses to access capital. Companies function best when regulations are transparent, mechanisms exist to enforce contracts, and policies are predictable. The U.S. will contribute to strengthening enabling policy environments for growth by improving the ability of governments to collect and analyze market information, training private sector trade associations in how to engage local and national governments, pressing for reductions in government controls on commodity prices, and supporting reform and implementation of policy and regulations that promote investment in the agricultural sector.

Spur regional integration
The small size, economic isolation, and poor infrastructure of many countries, particularly in Africa, present development challenges not easily surmounted at the national level. Integrated regional markets enable food to move from surplus to deficit areas, increasing food availability and reducing price volatility. Greater regional integration results from breaking down tariffs and other barriers, trade-facilitating policies, dissemination of research and technology developments, collective management of natural resources, and improvements in physical infrastructure. Regional integration connects countries, leads to improved productivity, and expands trade and competitiveness that increases incomes and ensures a more resilient food supply. Depending on the region, our investments may support, among others, the following types of actions:

  • Develop common regulatory standards consistent with global standards;
  • Build technical capacity to implement multilaterally agreed trade facilitation measures;
  • Reduce tariffs and other formal restrictions; . Reduce unnecessary customs procedures;
  • Improve payments systems to reduce barriers to capital flows across borders;
  • Strengthen regional commodity associations and information sharing systems;
  • Invest in infrastructure that connects countries;
  • Support research networks to increase diffusion of new technologies; and
  • Expand natural resource management, particularly shared water resources.

Harness global innovation and research
Underinvestment in research and technology, particularly in Africa, has severely stunted agricultural productivity in many developing countries. To address immediate technology needs, the United States will invest in research that increases harvests, improves the nutritional quality and marketability of staple crops, and conserves the natural resource base upon which agriculture depends. To address long-term needs, our investments will include adapting agricultural products to climate change, developing new crop varieties that are tolerant to a variety of environmental stresses and pests, and promoting new livestock and fisheries practices that can adapt to changing rangeland, disease prevalence, and environmental conditions.

National research systems in developing countries must ultimately drive the research agenda of partner countries. Universities and national research institutions play a crucial role in adapting available technologies to the needs of local farmers and communities. Universities also provide training for professionals throughout the agricultural sector including farmers, agronomists, economists, and business owners. Assistance for agricultural education and training, particularly at the university level, has declined significantly over the past several decades. We will make investments that substantially strengthen the capacity of partner country universities to train students for the agricultural sector and produce technologies that significantly improve food security.

We will begin a process to develop an expanded global research strategy through consultations with developing country universities, private companies, foundations, research institutions, and farmers themselves. We will invest in partnerships that deliver appropriate high impact technologies. The United States will expand and target support to the multilateral Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) and other regional and national research institutions. Finally, research and technology must meet the needs of small producers throughout the developing world. This strategy will prioritize the dissemination and adaptation of technology to the people who need it most.

Women and those who are very poor as key contributors of agriculture-led growth
Women account for the majority of the developing world’s agricultural workforce and produce half of the world’s food. Increasing the productivity of women farmers translates into significant increases in overall agricultural productivity. However, many countries overlook the ability of women to drive agriculture-led growth. As a result, women often have limited access to agricultural inputs and financial services and face legal or social constraints to owning land. Economic output could be increased by 15—40 percent and under-nutrition reduced by 15 million children simply by providing women with assets equal to those of men.

The issues confronting those who are very poor are often the same ones encountered by women. Exclusion of the very poor (people living on less than fifty cents a day) from the agricultural sector hinders equitable growth throughout the developing world. Addressing these constraints directly will allow those who are very poor to realize the potential of their labor and accelerate the expansion of rural growth. Excluding the very poor from economic growth strategies is costly—both in terms of human capital and U.S. resources. For example, in Ethiopia alone over the past 5 years, the United States has spent an average of $300 million annually to feed millions of people excluded from the growth process.

To increase the ability of women and those who are very poor to drive growth, our efforts will focus on linking these groups to new opportunities throughout agriculture and market value chains. We will also work to identify and address the policy constraints which prevent greater participation in these value chains. Identifying economic entry points, and enabling people to take advantage of the opportunities they present, will require well-targeted social and economic safety-nets. Examples of safety-nets include vocational and skills training, public works employment to generate income, and temporary financial and food assistance. Studies in Ethiopia have shown that providing safety-nets with expanded access to agricultural inputs increases agricultural productivity to a substantially greater extent than providing either intervention alone. Additional investments that will allow women and the very poor to achieve their full potential as drivers of growth include:

  • Adapt or target interventions—including access to financial services, agricultural inputs, and knowledge—to the needs of women and the very poor;
  • Prioritize labor-saving technologies where water and labor constraints prevent women and the very poor from expanding agricultural production; and
  • Engage in dialogue at all levels (community, national, regional, and global) to raise awareness of the value of women and the very poor to foster greater agricultural growth.

Reduce under-nutrition
Long-term solutions to under-nutrition must address the underlying determinants of poor nutritional status: poverty, poor agricultural production, lack of access to quality food, weak policy environment, lack of access to health care, lower female education status, and gender inequality. This strategy recognizes that advancing agricultural growth can positively impact nutritional status. However, many countries on track to meet the income and poverty target of the Millennium Development Goals are making little or no progress toward reducing under-nutrition. While economic growth can improve nutrition over time, evidence indicates that to reach our goals, we must complement growth with targeted nutrition interventions that together represent an integrated approach to reducing poverty and hunger.

Our efforts will emphasize prevention, improving access to adequate quantities and quality of food, supporting community-based programs for women and young children, and increasing the nutritional value of food aid commodities. Strengthening country and community capacity to plan, implement, and monitor nutrition programs is also needed to support this strategy. These needs will be specifically identified through a country-led process and will include:

  • Prevention through community-based programs: Evidence indicates that improving nutrition during pregnancy and the first two years of life provides the maximum benefit to health, education, productivity, and efforts to reduce poverty. We will implement programs that improve maternal nutrition, provide targeted nutrient supplementation, and encourage appropriate infant feeding.

  • Diet quality and diversification: Food-based approaches to combat under-nutrition and prevent illness are cost-effective, sustainable, and income-generating. We will support approaches such as homestead food production, fortification of foods during processing, and research to improve the nutritional content of staples foods.

  • Community management of acute under-nutrition: A successful approach for managing acute malnutrition will include timely detection of under-nutrition, outpatient treatment for the 80% of children without complications, and inpatient treatment for the remaining 20% with complications. We will support the integration of this successful model into national policies and health systems. We will also invest in innovative new approaches and products in partnership with the private sector to treat acute under-nutrition.

  • Improve nutritional value of food aid commodities: We will work to increase the nutritional benefit of U.S. food assistance programming to ensure that we do not miss the opportunity to support the longer-term health and development of those receiving emergency assistance.

Increase the impact of humanitarian assistance
Addressing the immediate impacts of hunger through humanitarian responses lays the foundation for longer term action. In rural areas it not only saves lives, but also protects agricultural livelihoods, assets, and investments which would otherwise be lost. Maximizing the effectiveness of humanitarian assistance, and ensuring it contributes to long-term development solutions, is a key part of the comprehensive approach to reducing hunger.

  • Increase coordination of USG Food Assistance. To maximize the contribution of humanitarian assistance to achieving long-term development goals, we will improve communication and coordination between agencies and offices that oversee the delivery of humanitarian and agricultural development assistance.

  • Improve Global Coordination and Forecasting. This strategy will improve the quality, reliability, and transparency of emergency needs assessments. We will support efforts to harness satellite technology and remote sensing to improve analysis and forecasting. In addition, we will begin the process of “multilateralizing” the United States-supported Famine Early Warning System.

  • Use the right tools. When emergency food needs are localized, and adequate food supplies exist in the country or region, the ability to purchase food assistance locally or provide vouchers to households so that they can purchase their own food can have significant benefits. While in-kind assistance will remain a critical food assistance tool, local and regional procurement and other mechanisms like food vouchers will be used when they make fiscal and development sense.

  • Increasing the Capacity to Reduce Vulnerability. The United States will work with countries to identify and implement activities that increase country capacity to reduce vulnerability to predictable crises like drought or flooding. Investment areas will include early warning systems, emergency preparedness and response, and risk reduction (e.g., insurance, community funds.)

2. Invest in Country-Led Plans

Supporting country-led plans increases the long-term sustainability of investments in food security, strengthens coordination among stakeholders, and provides an important opportunity to learn from the experiences of others. Donors and partner countries are currently engaged in discussions about the optimal way to develop and implement country-led plans. This strategy will support commitments made through these consultative and inclusive country-led processes. In Africa, for example, the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP) has pioneered the development of country strategies that provide roadmaps for donor investments. We will work with partner countries to develop sound investment plans that are grounded in a comprehensive framework, include a needs-based assessment, and have a realistic estimate of the impact of our investments. We will seek to align our resources behind these country-led plans using the principles outlined in this strategy.

While countries must create their own plans, the United States will invest in plans that:

  • Ensure the participation of key groups, including farmers and civil society organizations, and prioritize small holder farmers, especially women;
  • Use the best available data to prioritize those geographic regions with the greatest need and opportunity for agricultural development;
  • Prescribe strategies for creating policy and regulatory environments that accelerate agriculture-led growth;
  • Include government commitments that allocate a significant portion of the national budget to agriculture and food security and to policy reform that promotes private sector investment;
  • Provide protection of natural resources and support for environmentally sustainable growth; and
  • Contain targets, benchmarks, and a system for publicly tracking progress towards clearly established goals.

Strong national plans are a necessary but not sufficient condition for success. Every effort must be made by donors and partners to prevent corruption and graft wherever they occur. Increased transparency, strong management, and greater technical expertise in both the public and private sector can help mitigate corruption. For example, we will support efforts to reduce border stops and streamline the steps to open a business. We will also support efforts to post policy and program information publicly to empower communities to serve as a check against local graft and corruption.

3. Improve Strategic Coordination

Actions to address global food security have suffered from lack of coordination between and within individual governments, international institutions, and non-governmental actors. Improving coordination of the global response must start at the country-level through inclusive country-led processes that convene stakeholders around one table to develop and implement comprehensive food security plans. Building up from the country-level are regional coordinating mechanisms like regional economic communities and associations that harmonize actions, facilitate trade, and promote peer review. Finally, at the global level, coordination should focus on advocacy, sharing information, and supporting country-led processes.

Strengthening the country-led planning process as a mechanism to improve coordination will be an important focus of U.S. engagement with global partners. We will invest in strengthening the capacity of countries to convene stakeholders and ensure that all stakeholders are able to participate in the planning process from the start. We will also coordinate joint action and financing to support country-led plans. At the global level, we will support a Global Partnership for Agriculture and Food Security (GPAFS) that convenes global stakeholders to participate in dialogue, tracks stakeholder commitments and programs, and disseminates information about current global needs.

The United States must also improve coordination within our own government. Better coordination increases the efficacy of delivering assistance for agricultural development, harnesses the strengths and comparative advantages of individual agencies, and makes it easier for partners to engage the government. Coordination will be improved among U.S. government agencies through a whole-of-government strategy led by a U.S. Global Food Security Coordinator. Key government agencies will be involved in all aspects of the planning and implementation of this strategy, both in Washington and in the field. And our initiative will be monitored and evaluated using indicators, targets, and benchmarks.

Coordination, however, must go beyond governments. Foundations, private companies, universities, and non-governmental and civil society organizations must also be included in the planning and implementation of food security programs at the local, regional, and global levels. These organizations have important strengths essential for achieving the goals of this strategy. For example, non-governmental and civil society organizations are particularly effective at catalyzing the contributions of women and the very poor as drivers of agricultural-led growth. Private companies also drive much of today’s cutting-edge research, invest in the agricultural sector, and support the development of small and medium sized enterprises. Universities contribute to developing the skilled analysts, policy makers, entrepreneurs, and scientists who will lead and implement this strategy. Finally, many foundations have decades of experience advancing agriculture throughout the developing world. We will partner with all of these stakeholders to leverage their resources—both financial and experiential—to implement this strategy.

4. Leverage the Benefits of Multilateral Mechanisms

U.S. assistance cannot reach every country that needs assistance; multilateral institutions provide an opportunity to partner with the global community to make a global impact. Multilateral institutions can efficiently deliver global resources for food security, complement bilateral activities, and strengthen in-country donor coordination processes. Multilateral development banks and funds, such as the World Bank, the regional development banks, and the International Fund for Agriculture and Development (IFAD) also have important comparative advantages that complement bilateral programs. For example, they can undertake large-scale transportation projects or support intra-regional transportation corridors that boost trade flows and reduce the costs and time to ship inputs and crops.

In addition, multilateral institutions such as the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and the World Food Program (WFP) have significant technical experience that can be leveraged to help implement a multi-stakeholder strategy. Multilateral institutions, such as the UN High Level Task Force, will also play an important global coordination role.

One important financing mechanism is a flexible multi-donor trust fund at the World Bank proposed at the 2009 Pittsburgh G-20 Summit that will build on the success of the World Bank’s Global Food Crisis Response Program (GFRP). This mechanism will finance medium- and long-term investments in foundational areas such as regional infrastructure, market development, input systems development, and policy frameworks. This fund will leverage the World Bank’s existing resources, agriculture expertise, experience working across sectors and ministries, and near universal presence in low-income countries to fill critical gaps that donors and country partners often find difficult to implement in a timely or efficient manner on their own.

This mechanism will finance country proposals through a number of potential implementing agencies such as IFAD, the regional multilateral development banks, and the World Bank. This mechanism will also finance private sector activities to help catalyze private investment along the agriculture value-chain.

An important objective of this strategy is to leverage significant resources from donors and enable quick programming investments while bilateral capacity is being developed or redirected. This fund will leverage the existing donor coordination efforts at the country-level and facilitate effective multilateral investments.

5. Make a Sustained Commitment and Be Held Publicly Accountable

Transforming economic growth to reduce hunger and under-nutrition cannot be achieved in a single year or through a single initiative. Many of the investments that must be made—from building roads or developing new crop technologies—will take several years to complete. Furthermore, agriculture itself is an inherently risky endeavor as crop yields can vary due to natural forces (e.g., droughts, floods) and, increasingly, climate change. One bad crop due to weather should not impede progress over the long-term. Public institutions and private companies need the assurance of a stable and sustained commitment from stakeholders to assume short-term risks inherent in agriculture and to make long-term investments. Making multiyear commitments is necessary to be an effective partner in catalyzing sustainable agriculture-led growth.

Any approach to food security should be designed to ultimately reduce reliance on foreign assistance. Partner countries themselves must sustain their own agricultural and economic growth through domestic policies and investments in the long-term.

Donors and partner countries must set benchmarks and targets and be held publicly accountable to these targets. They must also establish robust tools to monitor and track pledged commitments. They should also use these tools to learn from investments and make corrections as they go. Collecting, analyzing, and reporting information about program progress and impact allows for learning from mistakes quickly and the sharing of best practices. This strategy will make significant investments in developing a monitoring and evaluation system at the country, regional, and multilateral levels to track progress. It will support an inclusive process for developing global and country-specific indicators. All areas of this strategy will be monitored and evaluated using the best available metrics. An annual report card will be released each year that tracks progress of this strategy and highlights lessons learned. Third party data and monitoring will also be used to provide unbiased evaluation of progress. Releasing this data publicly will also allow new or non-traditional donors to find ways that they can become more involved in global food security efforts.

Implementation of the U.S. Strategy

The United States will focus our investments in countries based on an analysis of those countries’ challenges, performance, and potential. We will partner with countries based on the following: the level of extreme poverty; vulnerability to food insecurity at the national and household-level; the level of hunger and under-nutrition, particularly among children; the natural resource potential to advance agriculture; and investment opportunities outlined through a country-led plan. Demonstration of strong leadership, capacity, and political will to undertake this effort, and the potential for synergies with other regional economies, will also be critical considerations.

At any given moment, countries may not have completed comprehensive plans nor have the capacity to implement them. Therefore, U.S. investments and interventions will be tailored to the needs of countries at different phases in the development process. It is envisioned that partner countries will fall into two general categories:

  • Pre-Investment Plan Countries that would benefit from technical assistance and capacity building to fully develop investment plans; and

  • Investment Plan Countries with advanced national food security plans and already-established public and private capacities to enable successful plan implementation.

Pre-Investment Plan Countries will receive targeted assistance to generate a comprehensive national food security investment plan. Investments will target: capacity building, such as increasing technical expertise; natural resource management; inventories and assessments of the agricultural sector; reform of trade and agricultural policies; and critical infrastructure needs. Pre-Investment Plan countries that demonstrate sufficient capacity, have an enabling environment for sustainable agricultural-led growth, and have a completed country plan will be eligible for large-scale investments. This group of countries will then be designated for significant resources as Investment Plan Countries.

Input from the U.S. and Global Community

There are many risk factors that could threaten the success of this strategy. Poor implementation, failure of donors to honor their pledges, inadequate country plans, and slow policy reform could all impede progress toward achieving the goals of this strategy. Because of these risks, it is essential that this strategy be transparent, with open and frequent dialogue carried out with domestic and international stakeholders. Global food security will only be achieved if stakeholders—working together—match effective planning with effective implementation.

This consultation document is a work in progress and will continue to be expanded and refined over the coming weeks and months. Input from the U.S. and global community is welcomed. Please visit our website: to read more and post comments. You may also email comments to