Keeping Promises on Food Security

Posted by Jonathan Shrier
February 3, 2012
Woman Dries Crop at Paddy Field in India

Food security representatives from around the world are gathering here at the Department of State today to finish a two-day meeting of the signatories of the L'Aquila Food Security Initiative (AFSI). In 2009 at the G-8 Summit, global leaders, including President Obama, endorsed the L'Aquila Joint Statement on Global Food Security, agreeing to "to act with the scale and urgency needed to achieve sustainable global food security."

This marked a turning point for international efforts to achieve food security worldwide. Leaders committed to a take a comprehensive approach to ensure food security, coordinate effectively, support country-owned processes and plans, engage multilateral institutions in advancing efforts to promote food security, and deliver on sustained and accountable commitments.

This year marks the final year of AFSI donor governments' pledge to mobilize over $22 billion toward global food security over three years, of which the United States pledged $3.5 billion. Food security is a critical priority as it is closely linked to economic growth, social progress, political stability, and peace.

In the United States, this pledge is embodied in Feed the Future, the U.S. government's global hunger and food security initiative. Taking a uniquely comprehensive approach to food security by investing in entire agricultural value chains, from seeds to markets to consumers, Feed the Future is the largest investment in agricultural development the United States has made in decades. Beyond improving farm and ranch production, Feed the Future also works with underserved agricultural workers, and prioritizes improvements in their nutrition as well as their income. Women producers are supported within FTF programs through several mechanisms including innovation funds to develop technology appropriate to them, and diversification programs that improve nutrition, specifically targeting the 1,000 day window from pregnancy through a child's second birthday. Adequate nutrition during this window is critical to a healthy pregnancy, and developing a child's lifetime cognitive and physical capacity.

AFSI participants convene twice annually to review progress toward meeting commitments, including financial pledges, and to discuss best practices and lessons learned. The first AFSI meeting of 2012 brings together over 50 food security officials from 30 countries, and international and regional organizations. Participants have heard from civil society and partner countries, and will discuss coordination efforts between partner and donor governments, investments in research to improve food security, tracking progress toward meeting the L'Aquila commitments, and using Managing for Development Results to enhance the impact of investments in food security.

AFSI members are making good progress in committing funds to fulfill their financial pledges, but we have much work ahead to achieve sustainable global food security.



February 4, 2012

W.W. writes:

It took the brilliant minds of Goldman Sachs to realize the simple truth that nothing is more valuable than our daily bread. And where there's value, there's money to be made. In 1991, Goldman bankers, led by their prescient president Gary Cohn, came up with a new kind of investment product, a derivative that tracked 24 raw materials, from precious metals and energy to coffee, cocoa, cattle, corn, hogs, soy, and wheat. They weighted the investment value of each element, blended and commingled the parts into sums, then reduced what had been a complicated collection of real things into a mathematical formula that could be expressed as a single manifestation, to be known henceforth as the Goldman Sachs Commodity Index (GSCI).

For just under a decade, the GSCI remained a relatively static investment vehicle, as bankers remained more interested in risk and collateralized debt than in anything that could be literally sowed or reaped. Then, in 1999, the Commodities Futures Trading Commission deregulated futures markets. All of a sudden, bankers could take as large a position in grains as they liked, an opportunity that had, since the Great Depression, only been available to those who actually had something to do with the production of our food.

Change was coming to the great grain exchanges of Chicago, Minneapolis, and Kansas City -- which for 150 years had helped to moderate the peaks and valleys of global food prices. Farming may seem bucolic, but it is an inherently volatile industry, subject to the vicissitudes of weather, disease, and disaster. The grain futures trading system pioneered after the American Civil War by the founders of Archer Daniels Midland, General Mills, and Pillsbury helped to establish America as a financial juggernaut to rival and eventually surpass Europe.

Dianne R.
California, USA
February 6, 2012

Dianne R. in California writes:

This sounds like an Agenda 21 action as defined in the posted 28 June 1997 resolution. And as seen in so many cases, Government gives $ in the name of "partnership for a just cause" and what happens is complete control over all farm activities. I say nay to this "just cause"!

st d.
Minnesota, USA
February 8, 2012

P.D. in Minnesota writes:

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