Food price spikes in 2008 left the over 1 billion chronically hungry in worse shape than ever while adding to their number. The U.S. government's new global hunger and food security initiative, Feed the Future (FTF), is unique in its approach. Instead of merely providing money in an emergency-like response, FTF will address barriers to food security with two objectives: increase agricultural growth and improve nutrition. After identifying and removing political, financial, and capacity-wise barriers, the program will develop a realistic food security plan for each country. SANREM CRSP and the other CRSPs are in the process of being transferred to the new USAID Bureau of Food Security, which will oversee FTF, and are viewed as integral components of the FTF strategy.
Feed the Future will focus on developing and implementing country-led and country-owned plans for 20 specific countries. The initiative plans to directly reach 40 million people, including 25 million children. However, USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah says the impacts will be greater due to the accompanying gains in agricultural research since food security is closely linked to gains in health care, education, and economics.
"The food crisis, the global financial crisis, have all contributed to the rise in chronic hunger. But let's be honest: so did years of drift and lack of attention from the global community and from the donor community, including the United States of America."
-USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah
Feed the Future is a three year, $3.5 billion program with a two-phased approach. The first phase will focus on foundational investments, such as technical, political, and financial support to help countries develop individual food security improvement strategies. Assisting policy reform and increasing a country's capacity to implement food security programs is essential – a country must be financially and politically stable enough to enact food security plans.
When a country shows it has a secure foundation, FTF will transfer to more core investments. In the second phase, countries will produce an actual sound food security strategy. The country's government has to prove that is can coordinate its agencies with non-governmental organizations, private investors, researchers, and other stakeholders.
Shah said the high involvement of the FTF countries is the program's biggest strength. Much of the success in achieving food security will be dependent on the countries' initiative and dedication to their plans.
Feed the Future's Impact on the CRSPs
The SANREM CRSP is currently working in 8 of the FTF's 20 focus countries, highlighted below:
Latin America & Caribbean:
Administrator Shah wants to align CRSP research with Feed the Future goals, and said "We are asking our land-grant university partners to push the frontiers of productivity through greater focus. Our current eight CRSP programs cover over 115 research activities and we seek to focus this work on a smaller set of core Feed the Future research priorities even as we significantly increase our investment to these partners."
Since SANREM was renewed for Phase IV before Feed the Future was announced, SANREM was able to work in countries outside of the program's focus countries. However, CRSPs applying for renewal in the near future will be expected to align their research with Feed the Future goals and limit activities to those focus countries.