Advancing Food Security with the Private Sector: Conversation with Yasser Toor and Paul Weisenfeld

First in a series of blogs on U.S. International Development Finance Corporation’s new Development Strategy, the Roadmap for Impact

By Andrew Herscowitz, Chief Development Officer, U.S. International Development Finance Corporation

How has the world made progress in agriculture, food security, and nutrition over the past 10 years? What are the remaining challenges?

Paul Weisenfeld: We’ve been on a path of progress addressing global food insecurity since the Green Revolution of the 1960s, with spurts of great success, as well as significant challenges along the way. The recognized father of the Green Revolution, Norman Borlaug, is credited with saving a billion lives from starvation as a result of efforts to produce hardier, high yield crops. But we periodically experience both natural and manmade crises that arrest advances or, worse, cause a reversal of progress.

Why is private sector investment important to improving food security in developing countries?

Paul Weisenfeld: While there are many things that donors, governments, and foundations can do to improve food security for families around the world, they are only part of the solution. Analyses show that, even with all the public sector investment in global agriculture, there is still a more than $200 billion gap in the investment needed to address food insecurity. Increased investment from the private sector can help reduce that gap, supporting the financing needed across the agricultural value chain in lower-income countries — from inputs to infrastructure to other important agricultural assets. Equally important, crowding in the private sector to engage robustly in the agricultural system is critical to setting it on a sustainable path.

How does investing in lower income countries agriculture help support U.S. national security?

Yasser Toor: Simply put, instability is usually bad. It’s bad for households, communities, and entire nations, and it can often have unforeseen repercussions. When people are hungry and fear not being able to access enough food to feed their families, they can turn to extreme measures such as rioting or earning money from illicit alternate livelihoods such as growing coca for cocaine in the Andes. When there are severe food shortages, people migrate, which creates additional security issues.

U.S. International Development Finance Corporation. Investing in development and advancing U.S. foreign policy. Twitter: @DFCgov

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