Bangladesh, a primarily agricultural society, has been plagued by poverty and malnutrition for many years. The 2010 USAID-funded Feed the Future training program, however, has empowered farmers to increase their yields.  The program has improved economic status and given the Bangladeshi people the means to fight back against hunger. This can particularly be seen in the life of Taroni Kanto Shikari, whose economic status improved to the point where he could send his son to school and his daughter to college.

Hunger and food insecurity continue to plague many Asian countries, and Bangladesh is no exception. The country has a population of 160 million. Over 40 percent of that population lives on less than one dollar per day and struggles with food insecurity. A stagnating economy, rising inflation and unpredictable natural disasters all contribute to hunger in Bangladesh. As the nation’s population grows, so does its rates of hunger and malnutrition.

Malnutrition is extremely prevalent in Bangladesh, particularly among children and pregnant women. In 2015, reported that 51 percent of pregnant women in Bangladesh do not consume adequate amounts of vitamin A. The site also reported that over 40 percent of adolescent girls are iron deficient and anemic. Bangladesh also has a high wasting and stunting rate, both of which stem from malnutrition and can permanently inhibit a child’s growth.

In 2010, USAID began the Feed the Future initiative, an ongoing program that fights back against hunger and malnutrition. The program operates by equipping farmers with the tools and the knowledge to increase their crop yields. The initiative consists of training seminars to teach farmers in Bangladesh better farming techniques and to equip them with better seeds and fertilizers.

Feed the Future has been very effective towards fighting hunger in Bangladesh, as can be seen in the life of Taroni Kanto Shikari, a rice farmer from the southern region of Bangladesh. As a rice farmer, Taroni’s income is dependent upon his yield. After all, Taroni says, “Rice is our life, rice is everything.” In 2010, Taroni attended USAID agricultural training, where he learned how to increase his rice yields with better seeds, fertilizer and techniques.

As a result of Taroni’s USAID-training, his rice production practically doubled and has increased steadily by 18 percent each season. His rice now requires one-third less fertilizer, reducing his production costs. He is also able to produce more vegetables with these new techniques, significantly increasing nutrient intake for his family. Taroni’s income has dramatically increased, and he can now afford to send his daughter to medical school and buy a bicycle for his son to attend school.

Hunger and malnutrition in southern Asian countries such as Bangladesh are rising issues. The problem will continue to worsen as populations rise and natural disasters ravage the region. Initiatives such as USAID’s Feed the Future program, however, are operating in countries around the world to give farmers like Taroni the tools to fight back against hunger and malnutrition.

Chasen Turk

Photo: Flickr

Feed the Future
The country and the planet continue to grow more densely populated. For this reason, an increase in resource production must occur. By 2050, the global population is expected to grow to nine million, making food security for all more difficult. By 2050, agricultural production needs to increase by 60 percent to have enough to guarantee food security. Currently, around 800 million people around the world go to bed hungry each night.

Feed the Future is an initiative orchestrated by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) with the goal of bringing world hunger to an end despite the rate of population growth. USAID defines food security as “having, at all times, both physical and economic access to sufficient food to meet dietary needs for a productive and healthy life.” Poverty is cited as the leading cause of food insecurity by USAID and is one of the main focuses of Feed the Future’s mission.

Working hand in hand with mostly female smallholder farmers, Feed the Future encourages increased production in farming to not only increase food production but also to provide a steady income for farmers and agricultural workers all over the world. By partnering directly with governments, donor organizations, the private sector and civil society, Feed the Future ensures that the goals of the community stay at the forefront of the organization’s efforts.

Positive progress in recent years has geared Feed the Future toward continued success. Some of the achievements include enabling 18 million children to improve their nutritional options, aiding 1.2 million small and medium-sized business in securing loans, and supporting producers as they grow their new agricultural sales by $800 million. The program also receives bipartisan support from Congress which helps ensure continued advancement.

Former President Barack Obama signed the Global Food Security Act of 2016 so that nations like Bangladesh, Ghana, Guatemala, Cambodia, Rwanda, Nepal and more can empower their populations nutritionally and economically.

In Nigeria, Feed the Future is training 4,000 farmers to use higher quality seeds, safer pesticides and crop-specific fertilizer to ensure better farming habits and higher crop yield.

Feed the Future and other similar efforts are paving the way for a future free of hunger and poverty. Efforts to invest in the global future creates better cooperation between nations and an overall increase in economic benefit for all involved.

Aaron Walsh

Photo: Flickr

The Five Best Ways USAID Helped Nigeria in 2016
As 2016 ends, USAID has announced encouraging news in regards to their long-time relationship with the country of Nigeria. Going forward, USAID plans to add $92 million to their humanitarian assistance program for the country. This move is symbolic of the year the two partners have shared; one rich with progress in support of refugees displaced and suffering from the Boko Haram insurgency. Here are five more ways USAID helped Nigeria in 2016:

  1. In November 2016, USAID and Chi Farms, which invests in emerging Nigerian economies by making use of local resources, partnered to add roughly 4,000 tons of catfish to the country’s water bodies. Part of USAID’s Feed the Future initiative, the two will also train 6,000 farmers and entrepreneurs in order to establish a more stable backbone for Nigeria’s economy.
  2. One of the most effective ways USAID helped Nigeria in 2016 was through its humanitarian assistance to those affected by the Boko Haram insurgency near the Lake Chad Basin. As of August 2016, more than 2 million people were internally displaced due to the conflict. USAID provides stability for refugees by administering such simple things as electronic vouchers, which cover things like food and household supplies in local shops – not only does the family benefit, but so does the local business. By August 2016, USAID had given $98 million in humanitarian aid to this region of Nigeria.
  3. In June 2016, USAID donated 160 metric tons of seeds to 6,000 Nigerian households, which they now estimate effects the lives of 60,000 internal refugees. Food insecurity has proven an endemic problem since the beginning of the conflict with Boko Haram, and this ambitious initiative lends a great deal of stability to families throughout the country that are now in control of their food supply. The donation of seeds also includes food packets to help sustain families as they await the harvest.
  4. USAID deployed a Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) in November 2016 to confront increasingly dire food insecurity in areas affected by the conflict. A study conducted by the organization in October estimated that 20 to 50 percent of children in the past six months suffered from acute malnourishment. The humanitarian crisis currently puts 9.2 million in need of help, and the arrival of DART means assistance can spread to more people, and more quickly.
  5. Assisting with food security wasn’t the only way USAID helped Nigeria in 2016 – they also trained personnel to staff 44 private hospitals for family planning counseling and implementation. As part of their USAID SHOPS project (Strengthening Health Outcomes for the Private Sector), the organization worked to increase quality and accessible family planning services throughout Nigeria. Completed in 2016, the project ran for five years and reached six states, and also trained 115 pharmacists to provide counseling to families. As a result, local healthcare facilities are reporting an increase in the use of effective contraception.

Since 2015, the U.S. has been the largest donor to Nigeria, giving $291 million in the 2016 fiscal year toward humanitarian aid. With the incredible news of their upcoming $92 million increase, USAID has extended help to tens of thousands more people and strengthened a partnership that will continue to improve the lives of millions of Nigerians.

Emily Marshall

Photo: Flickr

In Honduras, as in many places, gender conceptions influence national prosperity. Reimagining the ways that men and women can contribute to their communities and economies and learning how to share the societal load can stimulate poverty alleviation.

More than 1.7 million people in Honduras live in poverty, and many live on less than $1.25 per day. Many impoverished people live in rural areas. In fact, 46 percent of all Hondurans live in rural areas, where the primary occupation is farming. About 38 percent of all Honduran employment is in agriculture, and many farmers are struggling to make ends meet.

USAID and Feed the Future have made significant strides in assisting the Honduran farming community by improving technologies and management practices to help farmers increase the value of their agricultural products. However, there is still a long way to go, particularly in regard to supporting female farmers.

Income gaps and marginal political representation have crippled Honduran women’s leadership in the agricultural sector, despite the fact that in western Honduras alone, more than 40 percent of farming households are headed by women.

For three years, USAID and Feed the Future have partnered with Lutheran World Relief (LWR) in a project called Gender in Agriculture: From Policy to Practice (GAPP). Aiming to stimulate women’s leadership in Honduran agricultural communities, the program is training female farmers in leadership, public speaking and investing. Its hope is that as female farmers become more involved in local political processes, they will gain access to public funding and loans that tend only to benefit male farmers.

One recent GAPP success is a municipal agreement that part of the civic budget reserved for gender activities be specifically applied to women-led agricultural enterprises.

In addition to empowering female farmers in Honduras to demand their own rights, GAPP also funds programs to educate male leaders about the importance of gender equity in agriculture.

Using the concept of “new masculinities,” GAPP teaches male community members to appreciate women’s crucial role in the agricultural sector. According to one male GAPP advocacy training participant, Maximo Mejía, “Being a man isn’t, as they say, being a big shot, but understanding and seeking equality with your partner.”

While the provision of funding and new technologies does alleviate the difficulties faced by female farmers in Honduras, helping people rethink gender roles and stereotypes will help ensure that economic stagnation dissipates.

Feed the Future continues to train women to grow home gardens, farm fish and utilize the latest farming technologies, while GAPP teaches female farmers in Honduras how to use their voices to gain the civic support they need.

At the same time, Honduran men are relearning not only women’s roles in their economy, but also their own roles in caregiving and family health. This mutual empowerment of men and women will help break the poverty cycle in Honduras.

Robin Lee

Photo: Flickr

Feed the Future
The White House Summit on Global Development opened with a panel analyzing Feed the Future, a government initiative focused on improving global food security.

In July 2016, President Obama signed the Global Food Security Act of 2016. This shows that increasing growth in the development world and eradicating poverty are national security interests for the U.S.

The Obama Administration has shown dedication to improving global food security by implementing government organizations to address the various problems of global food security. One of those government organizations is Feed the Future.

Feed the Future began in 2009 and has focused on improving the agriculture industry of partner countries and nutrition to combat poverty and hunger. Their approach is as follows:

  1. Selection
    Nineteen countries have been selected based on five criteria:

    • Level of need
    • Opportunity for partnership
    • Potential for agricultural growth
    • Opportunity for regional synergy
    • Resource availability
  2. Strategic Planning
    The selected countries and the U.S. work together to make plans to create a more sustainable society through policy reform and domestic and foreign investments.
  3. Implementation
    The U.S. makes core investments in the countries’ agricultural sectors, as well as women, nutrition and agricultural infrastructure.
  4. Review and Scaling Up
    Progress reports of Feed the Future programming are published annually and reviewed so that programs can be improved upon for the future.

In 2015, Feed the Future helped over 9 million farmers gain access to improved technologies and management practices. This increased agricultural productivity and boosted the agricultural economy by more than $800 million. The organization also improved the nutrition of over 17 million children under the age of five.

In September 2015, many countries — including the U.S. — adopted a set of 17 goals to ensure a sustainable planet in the future. These goals, which are expected to be achieved by the year 2030 include, but are not limited to, no poverty, no hunger, good health and well-being, quality education and gender equality. Feed the Future is a vital part of the U.S. government’s role in achieving these goals.

As the Obama administration comes to a close, one can only hope that government initiatives like Feed the Future will continue to prosper and take significant steps towards ending poverty and hunger.

Ugochi Ihenatu

Photo: Flickr

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is working to alleviate global poverty in the world and doing a shockingly good job so far. USAID believes it can wipe out extreme poverty (earning less than $1.90 a day) by the year 2030, and USAID has three presidential initiatives working to attain this admirable goal: Feed the Future, Global Climate Change and Global Health.

Feed the Future

Feed the Future is the U.S. Government’s global hunger and food security initiative. Because nearly 800 million people go to bed hungry every night, Feed the Future works to diminish that number by spurring economic growth to increase incomes and reduce hunger, poverty and malnourishment.

USAID believes that Feed the Future will be a lasting initiative with long-term success since the program is deeply rooted in government and organizational partnerships. This adaptivity is key, especially since the population continues to increase.

Every country depends heavily on their environment to provide essential resources, such as food, water, shelter and energy. Unfortunately, these resources are under incredible strain due to the world’s tremendous increase in population; by 2050 there will be roughly an additional 2 billion people on earth.

Currently, 800 million individuals around the world suffer from chronic hunger, mainly due to poverty. With 2 billion additional people on earth by 2050, the number of chronically hungry individuals will only increase without initiatives such as Feed the Future.

Global Climate Change Initiative 

USAID’s Global Climate Change Initiative works to help impoverished countries manage and benefit from their natural resources. USAID can alleviate countries out of poverty for good by helping them manage their supporting land tenure policies and resource rights, fight deforestation and plant trees, protect biodiversity and adapt to the effects of climate change.

Global Health

USAID’s Global Health Initiative “seeks to advance world safe and secure from infectious diseases and to promote global health security as an international health priority.”

USAID works towards this goal by decreasing maternal mortality and infant death rates as well as lessening the number of HIV infections found in children. In the past 50 years, USAID has helped child mortality rates decline by 70 percent and maternal mortality rates by 40 to 65 percent. This amazing feat was achieved by providing mothers and children with supplements, vaccines and bed nets — actions that save about 6 million children per year.

A Truly Life-Saving Organization 

USAID saves more than 3 million lives annually through their immunization programs, three large initiatives and many smaller poverty-alleviating acts. USAID has educated over 850,000 people on HIV prevention and over 50 million couples worldwide use family planning because of USAID’s population program.

USAID plays a critical role in our nation’s effort to stabilize countries and build responsive local governance. Most importantly, USAID strives to not only alleviate extreme global poverty, but also keep individuals from having to make impossible choices between food, medicine, housing or education daily. Incredibly, this organization does all in its power to make sure people are able to afford their basic human needs.

Bella Chaffey

Photo: Flickr


With nearly 842 million people suffering from chronic hunger, the role of the United States in eradicating global poverty is becoming more important.

President Obama’s Feed the Future program aims to “strengthen food security and nutrition for millions of people by focusing on the smallholder farmers at the foundation of the world’s agriculture system.” USAID reported that targeting the agricultural sector, like the program does, is “at least twice as effective at reducing poverty as growth in other sectors.”

Initiatives similar to Obama’s Feed the Future give the appearance that the United States is doing enough for the poor globally. The Center for Global Development produces an annual report called “The Commitment to Development” Index, which rates a country’s finance, technology, environment, trade, security, migration and overall aid in the past year. The United States was ranked 21 out of 27 developed countries, which puts them in the bottom third based on foreign aid.

While ranked 6th in both trade and security aid, the Center for Global Development rated the United States as 27th and 26th in the finance and environment aid categories. That puts the most prominent developed nation behind countries in economic snafus like Greece and Ireland in those categories. The data analysis blames the low ranking on “improper environmental monitoring and a low score on the Financial Secrecy Index.”

A PhD student from Stanford University named Lauren Prather researched why countries like the United States post such low foreign aid numbers. Her study compared a population’s desire to give with the amount that was actually given. In the end, she found “a clear relationship between citizens’ support for foreign aid and the amount their country gives.”

Does that mean that the average person in the United States is not doing enough for the poor globally? Prather conducted another study measuring an American’s chance of providing aid based on where it is going. Prather a survey of 1000 people and found that “A majority of Americans supported giving both food and money to their conationals, while a majority supported cutting both entirely for foreigners.”

Prather’s research and “The Commitment to Development” Index reveal the United States’ lack of urgency when it comes providing foreign aid. In addition, a Gallup poll released in 2014 shows that African approval of U.S. leadership dropped to a record low of 59 percent.

Research indicates that procrastinating the objective of poverty eradication is a threat to the global political and economic order. “The weaknesses of poor states could destabilize the entire international system,” asserts Vincent Ferraro, author of a Wilson Center report titled “Should Global Poverty be a U.S. National Security Issue?”

The perception that the United States is doing enough for the poor globally via foreign aid is quickly corrected by research and data done by several organizations. Programs supported by USAID like Feed the Future can provide another way forward in the global arena of poverty relief. Ferraro concludes by saying, “A reformulation of the national interest to include global interests is necessary because our world scarcely resembles that of 17th century Europe.”

Jacob Hess

Photo: Flickr

Feed_the_FutureA Nov. 5 event on Capital Hill co-hosted by NGO alliance InterAction announced the progress of Feed the Future, the U.S. government’s global hunger and food security initiative.

In 2014 alone, the organization reportedly reached nearly 19 million households and helped nearly seven million farmers gain access to new tools and technologies.

New data demonstrates that through Feed the Future and other U.S. government efforts, childhood stunting rates have declined in Ethiopia, Ghana and parts of Kenya. These rates have dropped between 9 and 33 percent in recent years while areas in Uganda have seen a 16 percent drop in poverty.

In Honduras, Feed the Future is helping to reduce both poverty and stunting for its program participants.

Led by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the organization is working towards pioneering a comprehensive approach to ending hunger and creating global change. Feed the Future draws on the resources and expertise of 10 other U.S. government partners.

The organization currently focuses on small farm holders, particularly women, across 19 countries globally.

“Through Feed the Future, the United States is partnering across borders and across sectors to unlock the transformative potential of agriculture,” Eric Postel, the Associate Administrator for USAID, said.

“This global effort is empowering rural farming families to lift themselves out of poverty and hunger, and the results are clear. From Asia to the Caribbean to Africa, Feed the Future is helping raise crop yields and incomes, reduce stunting and poverty, and improve child nutrition.”

With nearly 800 million people suffering from chronic hunger, and with the world’s population projected to increase to more than nine billion by 2050, ensuring that everyone has enough nutritious food to eat will require a 60 percent increase in agricultural production without adversely affecting the environment.

According to Postel, “Going forward, USAID and our partners will continue working to ensure everyone has the nutritious food they need to lead full, healthy lives.”

Kara Buckley

Sources: Feed the Future 1, Feed the Future 2, USAID
Photo: Flickr


Ghana is one of the most successful countries in the Sub-Saharan Africa region in combating hunger and malnourishment. The proportion of undernourished people went from 23.5% in 1996 to 2.9% in 2013, allowing them to achieve the first Millennium Development Goal (MDG1) target for halving the proportion of people suffering from hunger.

In northern Ghana, 63% of the population lives in extreme poverty, and most rely on crop production. Most of the service and industrial industries are in the south, where poverty is less prevalent.

School feeding helps keep malnutrition low: every day, 368 million children around the world eat a meal at school. The World Food Programme (WFP) provides monthly rations to families who send their daughters to school, and they provide scholarships for secondary school to those who complete the program with an 85% attendance rate.

Over 1.7 million children every day are fed through the Ghana School Feeding Program. The Partnership for Child Development (PCD) is collaborating with the government to link nutrition with school meals and community training. One way the PCD is developing nutritious school meals is through the use of an online meal planner.

The web-based planner allows the user to create and add the costs from local ingredients. It links prices from local markets and displays the total cost of each meal. Only 12.3% of the population has access to the Internet, so for those who do not have access, the PCD developed an offline meal planner.

“By coupling high-tech digital resources such as the meals planner with low-tech engagement, integrated school feeding and health programs are vital if governments are to tackle the malnutrition crisis facing the next generation,” said Dr. Lesley Drake, executive director of PCD.

PCD is also combating malnutrition in Ghana through community meetings and 400 community-based champions of health and nutrition in order to convey the importance of proper nutrition and hygiene.

Feed the Future is fighting for food security in Ghana by focusing on rice, corn and soybean production to help farmers where poverty is most prevalent. The agricultural industry needs more support in order to do more research for crop-yielding and improve irrigation infrastructure.

USAID is committed to sustaining agricultural productivity by managing natural resources. Feed the Future and USAID activities support Ghana’s goals of reducing poverty and increasing food security.

Malnutrition in Ghana is declining due to programs like the online meal planner and the work of organizations like Feed the Future and USAID. Undernourishment and hunger continue to decline, but since 2007, the prevalence of underweight children under the age of five in Ghana has only dropped 0.5% after declining 11.8% between 1997 to 2007. Today, 13.9% of children under five in Ghana are underweight.

Donald Gering

Sources: HGSF, Impatient Optimist, Knoema, Social Progress Imperative, UNDP, USAID WFP 1, WFP 2
Photo: Modern Ghana

Daniel Obare used to be a subsistence farmer. His family ate most of the tomatoes and green peppers he grew, and he sold the surplus on the side. Today, he cultivates watermelons on three acres of land and uses cutting-edge farming techniques. His family and him have experienced a huge lifestyle improvement thanks to the agricultural guidance of USAID’s Feed the Future initiative.

Most Tanzanian farmers do not have the training or equipment required to properly use chemical fertilizers and pesticides. They use untreated seeds planted at random distances apart in sunken beds and often rely on rainfall for precious irrigation. These inefficient techniques result in lower yields, farms that are more vulnerable to extreme weather and high levels of pollution caused by chemical runoff.

In September 2014, Obare attended a farmer’s convention in Mbeya called the Nane Nane Fair. There, he met members of the Tanzania Horticultural Association, a group run by Tanzanians and supported by USAID.

With their help, Obare learned more modern farming techniques and dramatically increased his yield. “My lifestyle has completely changed. For instance, my daughter, who was in a government school, has been transferred into a private school that has more facilities. I can confidently pay 1.5 million TZS [$740] for her annual school fees,” Obare said.

Obare’s experience in Tanzania is indicative of a greater trend throughout Africa. USAID’s Feed the Future initiative works in 12 African nations supporting groups like the Tanzania Horticultural Association. The programs differ by country, from the small farmer training and support in Tanzania to trade hub programs in Zambia, Lesotho, Swaziland, Namibia, South Africa, Botswana, Malawi and Mozambique.

“The trade hub provides targeted technical assistance to governments, the private sector and civil society organizations to advance regional trade within southern Africa while incorporating gender integration, environment compliance and strategic outreach in all activities,” a USAID report stated.

Feed the Future is ultimately trying to give developing nations a strong economic base in sustainable agriculture. Their initiatives focus on efficiency, resilience in the face of a changing climate and gender equality. Their impact has been felt by small farmers and administrators alike.

James Bever, a former mission director for USAID, is enthusiastic about the program’s potential. When asked about the Feed the Future programs in Ghana, he told reporters that agribusiness has the potential to really take off, especially in northern Ghana.

“It is a sustainable model and we are extremely excited about it,” he said. “I think Ghana is in the path to an agricultural revolution that really can turn the northern part of the country to a bread basket and reduce imports. The north is where there is a real potential for quick improvement in grain production such as rice, white and yellow maize and sorghum, which are marketable.”

The dedication of local agricultural groups is turning USAID’s support into skills and their goals into reality. More farmers are being helped every day, and despite the challenges they face, small farmers in Africa are living markedly better lives.

– Marina Middleton

Sources: Feed the Future 1, Business Ghana USAID 1, Feed the Future 2 USAID 2
Photo: Flickr