Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Innovative Approaches to Food Security

The Food Crisis has become what many people call “the perfect storm”. A forecasted disaster, a predicted catastrophe produced by a compilation of factors that many people for sought at least 3 years ago. This monster has become a reality, manifesting itself in forms of extreme poverty and hunger, urging policy makers and different agencies to create new ways to tackle it and embrace new ways to secure our (the world’s) Food.

The diverse panel for this event featured a representative from each different sector; Thomas Briggs, USAID for government, Ann Tutwiler from the Hewlett Foundation provided the non-governmental perspective, Tres Bailey from Walmart for the private sector, and Howard Shapiro from Mars Inc. for the technological aspect of food security. Each presented and agreed on the factors that led to this crisis and each with different, sometimes congruent, solutions to help gravely affected developing countries.

USAID’s solution includes development assistance to increase food production, meaning investments in agricultural processing facilities, creating access to financing for farmers, and improving agricultural value chains. Mrs. Tutwiler, from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, discussed these solutions as well as increasing foreign direct investment (FDI) through market incentives and improvement of market structures in developing nations. The Hewlett foundation is working on the improvement and investment in roads to reduce transportation costs in developing countries as a strategy to expand markets specifically in Africa. Tres Bailey, Walmart’s representative, spoke about Walmart’s local investment to boost up economies in emerging markets. Mr. Bailey explained the newly formed partnership between USAID and Walmart as well as with Mercicrops.

Another panelist, Howard Shapiro, from Mars, Inc, presented an innovative way of looking at food security. Rather than affecting market infrastructure through FDI or by importing foreign agricultural practices such as fertilizer implementation, looking at how small farms can utilize their local resources. The topsoil in some parts of Africa is too thin for fertilizer, and that it is essential to look at which crops flourish in the natural environment. While we examine market, we must also look at sustaining what is already on the ground. In order to ensure food security, we must embrace nature’s laws and look at sustainable ways to secure food for the poor and for the world.

Date: November 10th, 2008
Hosted by: Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies
Attended by: Cristina Lopez

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