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Food For Thought
Trickle Up and food security experts come together to identify 12 workable solutions to end world hunger.

Featuring:

Marieme Daff, Africa Program Director, Trickle Up

Dr. Olivier De Schutter, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food

Dan Glickman, Former US Secretary of Agriculture

Bettina Luescher, Chief Spokesperson, North America, World Food Programme

Roger Thurow, Senior Fellow for Global Agriculture & Food Policy, The Chicago Council on Global Affairs

For full bios, click here.

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Food For Thought November 2011 marked the human population eclipsing 7 billion people on planet Earth. Of those, 1 billion continue to endure hunger. On October 19th, 2011, Trickle Up hosted a panel of food security experts to discuss ideas to end world hunger. While not comprehensive, we listed the main points of the discussion here to remind ourselves, as well as our leaders, that the issue of hunger cannot be ignored. Achievable solutions are available if we choose to listen.

Ideas to End World Hunger (click on each to learn more)

  1. Acknowledge the existence and severity of the food crisis in both the west and the east of Africa

  2. Increase agricultural research & development, especially for appropriate technologies based on local needs

  3. Strengthen institutions to adopt the right to food

  4. We have the way, we need the political will

  5. Invest in creative new tools for fighting hunger, particularly focusing on early childhood nutrition

  6. Empower women

  7. Create local, rural empowerment

  8. Tackle speculation by financial actors

  9. Reduce biofuel subsidies

  10. Implement pro-poor aid policies in the United States

  11. Involve the private sector

  12. Establish social safety nets through a global reinsurance mechanism

Want to listen to the podcast? Click here.

Questions? Comments? Click here.

 

1. Acknowledge the existence and severity of the food crisis in both the west and the east of Africa

Mali in the west and the Horn of Africa in the east of the continent both suffer for different types of chronic food insecurity.The Horn of Africa is currently suffering from a full-scale famine. While a far cry from the eastern crisis of the African continent, the entire semiarid Sahel region across Northern Africa faces a fixated hunger season every year. Although Mali rarely makes the news, it is often referred to as the “silent tsunami” of Africa’s food crisis. The poor can always expect the hungry season to be waiting for them when their stores of millet, rice and corn run out.
~ Marieme Daff

Learn more about the hungry season >

2. Increase agricultural research & development, especially for appropriate technologies based on local needs

We must make agricultural research and development a priority. We are spending less today than 30-40 years ago when Dr. Borlaug, along with the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations, were able to save 100 million lives through the Green Revolution with research into heat tolerant wheat. Today, we need crops that use less water, are resistant to disease, and are capable of adapting to climate change. One of the ways this can be achieved is by creating and sustaining relationships between American colleges and colleges around the world, who are already at the forefront of such R&D.
~ Dan Glickman

At the same time, the Green Revolution was not perfect, and the technological advances that were its catalyst had negative repercussions as well. We should not ignore this reality, but rather embrace listening to the local needs and abilities of the farmers themselves to use this technology properly. Future R&D needs to complement the local contexts it is trying to support.
~ Roger Thurow

Read ENOUGH: Why the World's Poorest Starve in an Age of Plenty by Roger Thurow and Scott Kilman >

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3. Strengthen institutions to adopt the right to food

“ Ensure accountability so governments follow up on their commitments to ending world hunger.”

In the fight against hunger, institutions and rights matter. People are hungry not because too little food is being produced, but because their rights are violated in impunity. Victims of hunger must be allowed to access remedies when their authorities fail to take effective measures against food insecurity. Governments must guarantee a living wage, adequate healthcare and safe conditions of employment for the 450 million agricultural workers in the world. This can be achieved by enforcing a stronger implementation of the conventions on labor rights in rural areas. Finally, it is essential that their actions in this area be subjected to independent monitoring.
~ Olivier De Schutter

Learn more about the right to food >

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4. We have the way, we need the political will

After the Green Revolution of the 1960s, the world believed the problem of hunger was resolved. Governments, non-governmental organizations and other influential entities became complacent, and there were huge decreases in aid directed towards food security efforts in places like Africa. The US alone had food aid decrease from 15-20% in the 1980s to 3% a few short years ago. We need to reverse this neglect that has set in. With the lessons we continued to learn from the Green Revolution, we have the way to decrease global food insecurity; we just need the will. Fortunately, we have some efforts already in progress: President Obama’s recent USAID Feed the Future campaign, the Gates and Rockefeller Foundations’ own joint initiatives in Africa, and a new drive by African leaders to meet the food security needs of their countries, particularly in Mali, Ghana, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Kenya.
~ Roger Thurow

Read Roger's blog post on "Political Will" >
Read Roger's blog post on "The Right Vote" >


5. Invest in creative new tools for fighting hunger, particularly focusing on early childhood nutrition

We need to avoid the long-term costs of hunger, and we need to start with children. One of the most striking statistics that has come out in the last few years was that if a child doesn’t get proper nutrition the first one thousand days of his/her life, they will never catch up later on. We need to focus on creative solutions, such as school-feeding programs. You and I get cranky if we’re trying to learn or work while hungry; imagine that magnified 10x worse for a starving, impoverished child. If you feed that child while you’re educating them, it will help keep them in school, and they can retain more of their education to better their future.
~ Bettina Luescher

Learn more about school-feeding programs >

6. Empower women

Women are the ones who make sure the whole family is fed. If you help a woman feed her family, by extension an entire village will be fed. This trickles up, and eventually you can feed the future of an entire country. Empower women with a livelihood that can bring them income, and also create solidarity among women in a village to stand together in times of need.
~ Bettina Luescher

Watch how Chhaya Madji overcame her family's food inscecurity >


7. Create local, rural empowerment

Approximately, 75 percent of the poor reside in the rural areas. One major reason why the majority of the hungry are among those who depend on small-scale farming is that these farmers are insufficiently well organized. We must support these farmers’ organizations. By forming cooperatives, they can move up the value chain into the processing, packaging and marketing of their produce. And they can count politically, so that decisions made about them cannot be made without them.

Even more, food chains are currently deeply imbalanced. They are in favor of middlemen or "aggregators" at local level as well as commodity buyers or large agri-food companies in global supply chains. Today's food chains are against the small-scale farmers, who often have no choice but to sell at low prices even when prices in markets go up. Remedying these imbalances is possible by combating excessive concentration in the food chains by using competition law; by combating the abuse of buyer power by regulation and a better organization of farmers, in particular through cooperatives; and by developing local markets, to ensure that farmers have alternative avenues to sell their crops and are less dependent on one single buyer, or on a handful of buyers that conspire to buy cheap at the same time that they sell dear.
~ Olivier De Schutter

Read Olivier's “Farmers must not be disempowered labourers on their own land” >

8. Tackle speculation by financial actors

While not a cause of price volatility, speculation on the derivatives markets of essential food commodities significantly worsened it. Such speculation was made possible by massive deregulation in important commodity derivatives markets beginning in 2000. This must be reversed. Major economies should ensure that dealing with food commodity derivatives is restricted to qualified and knowledgeable investors who deal with such instruments on the basis of expectations regarding market fundamentals, rather than mainly or only on speculative motives.
~ Olivier De Schutter

Read Olivier's "Food Commodities Speculation and Food Price Crises" >

9. Reduce biofuel subsidies

There are a number of countries, particularly France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the USA, that have supported subsidies and tax breaks for biofuels. While biofuels have reduced the global dependence on fossil fuels, they have simultaneously had a damaging effect on food supplies as more and more land is being taken away from food production and turned over to fuel production.
~ Roger Thurow

Read more on Roger's take on biofuels >

10. Implement pro-poor aid policies in the United States

“Development is an equal partner with defense and diplomacy.”
~ Dan Glickman

President Obama’s inaugural address and promise to the developing world was that the USA will help “...nourish starving bodies and feed hungry minds.” On a local level, this message resonates with farmers who have two goals: feed their families, especially through the hungry season, and send their children to school. Therefore, there is nothing foreign about the aid the United States gives to achieve these universal goals we all share. This was the push behind USAID's Feed the Future campaign, an effort to bring agricultural development to the poor beyond just food aid on the part of the United States’ fight to end world hunger. However, with a new Congress that wants to cut foreign aid, this is proving much more difficult to achieve.
~ Roger Thurow

Learn more about USAID's Feed the Future >
Read Roger's blog post on "The Right Vote" >
Read the Chicago Council's progress report on US leadership in global agricultural development >

11. Involve the private sector

The private sector has access to both the capital and brand recognition needed to feed the world, both the poor as much as the rich. PepsiCo, for example, along with the World Food Programme and USAID, has entered into a public-private partnership with Ethiopia wherein the company helps local farmers build their capacity for chickpea farming through better seeds and irrigation systems. PepsiCo then purchases the chickpea harvest from the farmers for their own chickpea products, in order to meet growing global demand.
~ Bettina Luescher

Learn more about PepsiCo's project in Ethiopia >
Read the Chicago Council's "Leveraging Private Sector Investment in Developing Country Agrifood Systems" >

12. Establish social safety through a global reinsurance mechanism

Many cash-strapped developing countries fear that social protection schemes, once put in place, may become fiscally unsustainable following domestic or international shocks, such as a sudden loss of export revenue, poor harvests or sharp increases in the price of food commodities on international markets. The international community can help overcome this uncertainty factor by putting in place a global reinsurance mechanism. If premiums were paid in part by the country seeking insurance and matched by donor contributions, this would create a powerful incentive for countries to put in place robust social protection programs for the benefit of their population.
~ Olivier De Schutter

Read the rest of Olivier's ideas to end world hunger >



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Meet the Panelists:

marieme daffMarieme Daff has been Trickle Up's African Program Director since 2005. Prior to Trickle Up, Ms. Daff worked with MADRE, an international women's human rights organization, where she focused specifically on partnering with local organizations in East Africa on women's issues. Originally from France and of Senegalese origin, Ms. Daff studied at New York University while pursuing an earlier career in writing with a social justice focus. She brings a vast knowledge of several regions of Africa, as well as experience tracking information, communicating with a wide range of stakeholders, and a practical knowledge of development issues. Her areas of expertise also include incorporating gender into program work through training and gender analysis. Ms. Daff has a BA in French and Comparative Literature from the Sorbonne in Paris and an MA in journalism and communications from New York University.


olivier de schutterOlivier De Schutter (LL.M., Harvard University ; Ph.D., University of Louvain (UCL)), the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food since May 2008, is a Professor at the Catholic University of Louvain and at the College of Europe (Natolin). He is also a Member of the Global Law School Faculty at New York University and is Visiting Professor at Columbia University.

In 2002-2006, he chaired the EU Network of Independent Experts on Fundamental Rights, a high-level group of experts which advised the European Union institutions on fundamental rights issues. He has acted on a number of occasions as expert for the Council of Europe and for the European Union.

Since 2004, and until his appointment as the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, he has been the General Secretary of the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH) on the issue of globalization and human rights.

His publications are in the area of international human rights and fundamental rights in the EU, with a particular emphasis on economic and social rights and on the relationship between human rights and governance. His most recent book is International Human Rights Law (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2010).


Dan GlickmanDan Glickman is currently a senior fellow at the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) in Washington, D.C. BPC was formed in 2007 by former Senate Majority Leaders Howard Baker, Tom Daschle, Bob Dole and George Mitchell to develop and promote bipartisan solutions to the country's problems and to promote civility in government. 

Glickman served as the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture from March 1995 until January 2001. Under his leadership, the Department administered farm and conservation programs, modernized food safety regulations, forged international trade agreements to expand U.S. markets, and improved its commitment to fairness and equality in civil rights. Currently, he is the co-chair of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs' global agricultural development initiative and vice-chair of the World Food Program-USA. He is the author of "Farm Futures," in Foreign Affairs (May/June 2009). 

Before his appointment as Secretary of Agriculture, Glickman served for 18 years in the U.S. House of Representatives representing the 4th Congressional District of Kansas. During that time, he was a member of the House Agriculture Committee, including six years as chairman of the subcommittee with jurisdiction over federal farm policy issues. Moreover, he was an active member of the House Judiciary Committee, chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and was a leading congressional expert on general aviation policy.

Dan Glickman served as Chairman of the Motion Picture Association of America, Inc. (MPAA) from 2004 until 2010. The MPAA serves as the voice and advocate of the American motion picture, home video and television industries.

 

Bettina Luescher is the Chief Spokesperson and Celebrity Coordinator for North America of the World Food Programme. Since joining WFP in 2004 she has worked in crisis areas like Darfur, Afghanistan, Gaza, Guatemala, Haiti, Kenya and the tsunami region of Indonesia and Sri Lanka. Before joining the UN, Luescher worked for 15 years as an anchor, reporter and field producer for CNN International based in Atlanta, Frankfurt and Berlin. In 2002, she won a "National Headliner Award – First Place" as member of CNN's Investigative Team for the coverage of "Attack on America – 9/11". Before CNN she worked for three years as an anchor for German ARD television. She started her career in radio and at a local newspaper.

 

Roger Thurow is currently the senior fellow for global agriculture and food policy at The Chicago Council on Global Affairs. Before, he served as a foreign correspondent for the Wall Street Journal, based in Europe and Africa. His coverage of global affairs spanned the Cold War, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the release of Nelson Mandela, the end of apartheid, the wars in the former Yugoslavia and the humanitarian crises of the first decade of this century – along with 10 Olympic Games. In 2003, he and Journal colleague Scott Kilman wrote a series of stories on famine in Africa that was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in International Reporting. Their reporting on humanitarian and development issues was also honored by the United Nations. Thurow and Kilman are authors of the recent book ENOUGH: Why the World's Poorest Starve in an Age of Plenty. In 2009, they were awarded Action Against Hunger's Humanitarian Award.

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