Perhaps our most daunting challenge is one as old as humanity itself: hunger. Tonight, more than 800 million people will go to bed hungry. Many live in rural areas in developing countries, and their livelihoods rely directly on agriculture. Ironically, many smallholder farmers themselves do not have enough food to feed their own families.

A profound impact

Hunger robs millions of children of their potential. It hurts their ability to learn, to earn, and to have healthy sons and daughters of their own. Proper nutrition—especially in the 1,000-day window between pregnancy and a child’s second birthday—has a profound impact on the rest of their lives. The millions of children in the world today deserve better.

By 2050, the world will have to increase global agricultural production by sixty percent in order to meet rising food demand. Meeting this goal will be ultimately determined by our ability to transform agriculture and end hunger precisely in the places where these challenges are deeply intertwined: in the world’s most vulnerable communities. That is why, as one of his first foreign policy initiatives, President Obama announced Feed the Future, a global effort designed to end hunger and malnutrition through business, science, and partnership.

A new model

"By 2050, the world will have to increase global agricultural production by sixty percent in order to meet rising food demand."

Feed the Future embodies a new model of development—one grounded in local leadership, innovation, and public-private partnerships that are delivering increased yields, higher incomes, and more dynamic economies. Smallholder farmers are unlocking new lines of credit, harnessing new technologies, and shipping their products to profitable markets. Partner countries are making important reforms, increasing their agriculture budgets, and opening opportunities for businesses to responsibly invest in food production.

"This past September, a bipartisan group of Congressional leaders introduced legislation to strengthen Feed the Future’s comprehensive approach as a lasting pillar of U.S. foreign and development policy, which signified profound recognition for the importance of this mission." 

We are pairing the best of American scientific and research ingenuity with some of the brightest minds across the globe, leveraging expertise from NGOs and nearly $10 billion in private investment from 200 companies—the majority local African firms – through complementary efforts. In Zambia, we introduced farmers to a new kind of fertilizer and breed of high-yielding maize, raising yields by over 30 percent in a year. In Ethiopia, we helped drive down stunting rates by nearly 10 percent in just three years, resulting in 160,000 fewer children suffering from one of the most crippling effects of malnutrition.

Sowing the seeds

In 2013 alone, Feed the Future has equipped 7 million farmers with the tools to help them grow their way out of poverty and helped improve nutrition for 12 million children — helping to tackle undernutrition, one of the leading causes of child death.

By spurring meaningful policy reforms and sparking local investment, Feed the Future has created the blueprint for groundbreaking public-private partnerships that can end hunger across the developing world. 

It is a story I saw just last month when I visited the Indira Gandhi Hospital in Afghanistan, where I met a four-year-old named Fatima. She arrived at the hospital severely malnourished, but within weeks, she responded dramatically to therapeutic treatment. Today, she is back at home with her family in Kabul, growing and thriving thanks to Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Foods that USAID helped provide. Fatima’s story is a profound reminder of the impact of our investments and the power of our shared mission.