Fighting Global Hunger: A Smart Investment for Business and Development
By USAID Administrator Mark Green and Corteva Agriscience Chief Executive Officer-Elect Jim Collins
Ending global hunger is one of the greatest challenges, as well as opportunities, of our time. We both believe it is more achievable than ever before. We also believe the United States is uniquely placed to lead this effort as a world leader in agricultural innovation and technology.
The path to a world without hunger is a long one, but we have reason to be optimistic, even in the face of an increasing number of manmade disasters in the developing world.
As leaders of the world’s premier development agency and one of America’s leading agribusinesses, we are optimistic because of the potential we see in bringing our two organizations together to achieve this common goal.
On Nov. 9, 2018, we signed a new Memorandum of Understanding that represents a key milestone in our growing partnership to tackle global hunger through the U.S. Government’s Feed the Future initiative. This is more than just a piece of paper. It lays the foundation for future co-creation and co-investment by our two organizations.
By mobilizing our individual capabilities and strengths, this collaboration enables us to address problems that neither could effectively address alone.
Today, in sub-Saharan Africa, India, China, South Asia and Latin America, smallholder farmers generate over 80 percent of all food production. They are more susceptible to the adverse effects of weather extremes, water-stress, and crop pests and diseases, yet they typically adopt technology at very low levels. To feed a world that demands more and better-quality food, businesses and the development sector must work ever more closely to reach these smallholder customers with the innovations they need.
Future collaborations between our organizations will do just that. Together, we will help strengthen markets, offer new options to farmers in places like Africa to combat infestations of the voracious Fall Armyworm, provide support tailored to the needs of women farmers, and advance research and innovation for more-nutritious crops that can withstand drought and disease.
Engaging the American private sector in development is smart for both business and sustainable development.
Our collaboration enables USAID to tap into the unparalleled ingenuity, expertise, and innovation of the American agricultural and business communities to support development goals, while simultaneously supporting business goals.
Our collaboration will help smallholder farmers gain access to some of America’s greatest agricultural innovations, such as advanced seed and crop technologies, at an affordable price. The success of smallholder farmers has a ripple effect throughout their communities and countries: creating opportunity for others to pull themselves out of poverty, and making their countries more food-secure and resilient. These farmers and their communities are growing customers of, and contributors to, global supply-chains.
As an added benefit of our work to reach and empower smallholders, American businesses like Corteva will have more predictable, profitable access to these new and growing markets. This, in turn, supports U.S. jobs, exports American expertise and technology, and advances research and science that benefit American farmers as well as those abroad.
We believe in the power of these types of partnerships to help end hunger, because we have seen what they can accomplish.
USAID, through Feed the Future, and DuPont Pioneer, a part of Corteva, previously worked together to help farmers like Maria Abasura in Ethiopia get much-needed seeds, connections to markets, and training. With maize seeds from DuPont and training on how best to use them, she has more than doubled her harvests, and invested that profit into new business ventures.
She has become a source of inspiration for her community, and proved to others that farming can be a viable business for women, even amid drought.
We are optimistic about the world’s ability to end hunger because Maria’s story is not unique.
More than 250,000 farmers like her reached by our partnership in Ethiopia have tripled their per-acre maize yields in less than three years. They have continued to increase their yields after they graduated from the program, and are purchasing improved seeds and pairing them with the growing techniques they learned. This is helping them rise out of poverty, and is good for American businesses, as these farmers are now new customers.
All of this provides new and exciting opportunities for U.S. innovators, entrepreneurs and businesses. For example, exports of U.S. agriculture and food products to Feed the Future partner countries have increased by $1.4 billion since the initiative began. The more we build the capacity and connections that developing countries need for development and growth to take root and blossom, the closer we move toward the day when foreign assistance is no longer necessary.
Of course no one organization or business, and no one innovation, can solve a problem as big and as complex as global hunger. Even as USAID and Corteva are expanding our collaboration, we need more businesses, banks, researchers, non-profits, and individuals to join us in this endeavor.
By working together — by joining business and development in mutually beneficial ways — we can help people like Maria, and countries like Ethiopia, meet tomorrow’s challenges, and truly end hunger in their communities and beyond.
Note: This post also appears on the Corteva Agriscience blog.