May 25, 2012

Food security experts discuss long-term needs to ensure access

Speakers from advocacy and government groups assessed U.S. and international efforts to alleviate global food insecurity Tuesday, just after the G8 Summit at Camp David last week.

The lecture, the last in the Center for International Studies’ “Food (In)Security” series, expounded the roles of accountability and governance in ensuring universal access to nutritious food

Government agencies should stray from sending emergency food assistance and humanitarian aid and instead focus on agricultural development, said USAID Bureau for Food Security Chief Scientist Julie Howard. She lauded President Barack Obama’s commitment to food security through the creation of Feed the Future, a $3.5 billion federal anti-hunger initiative.

In addition to long-term system infrastructure, food security solutions require political coordination, Howard said. “Governments must be willing to be accountable to people and put agricultural development at the forefront.”

Emily Alpert, a senior policy manager for agriculture and food security at the antipoverty nonprofit ONE Campaign, emphasized the importance of advocacy and transparency.

“We should have the power of voice to make governments accountable for their promises,” she said. “1.4 billion people around the world are in extreme poverty. It is our responsibility to do something about it.”

Strategic coordination between governments, regional bodies, and multilateral institutions must exist to ensure the success of food security efforts, according to Howard. The involvement of corporations, like PepsiCo in Ethiopia, is also an important aspect of development, she said.

“[We] need to focus on the country level and increase investments and involvement from the private sector,” Alpert agreed.

Alpert also discussed the outcomes of the Camp David G8 and the future of international agricultural development.

“Countries need to create their own plans, and the G8 will come in to support them. [These countries] should focus on long-term and short-term solutions,” she said.