WASHINGTON (Aug. 24, 2015) — A group of Senate Agriculture Committee staffers and members of the U.S. Administration traveled to Djibouti and Mozambique with the global poverty-fighting organization CARE to see how U.S. investments in food and nutrition security are enhancing the resiliency and self-sufficiency of smallholder farmers and families and providing short-term food assistance to those in need.
The delegation included Senate Agriculture Committee staffers from Kansas, North Carolina and Ohio, who oversee legislative work on all matters related to the U.S. government’s agriculture, farming and forestry programs, in addition to nutrition and health. This group was joined by influential leaders from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Global Child Nutrition Foundation.
During the five-day CARE Learning Tour, the delegation saw several U.S.-supported programs that are feeding millions of people throughout the country, and in turn, helping people feed themselves. Today, 795 million people around the world are hungry. Most of them are women and girls. In Djibouti and Mozambique, the inability to access food and proper nutrition remains a reality in many communities, where poverty and malnutrition rates persist.
Djibouti is a small country, but its location in east Africa and its large distribution networks make it a strategic location for important food-aid distribution. In fact, Djibouti is one of the few places outside the United States that prepositions American food aid for Africa and Asia, thus reducing the delivery times to areas in need by 75 percent. Djibouti is also major hub for humanitarian relief efforts. Food shipped through Djibouti supports Ethiopia, South Sudan, Chad, Somalia and Djibouti itself. However, despite its important and strategic role in fighting global hunger, Djibouti is a resource-poor, under-developed country that relies almost entirely on imported food. Djibouti is also facing severe food insecurity after six years of consecutive drought, and food shortages are exacerbating malnutrition rates.
The delegation began the trip at the Port of Djibouti where they visited a warehouse and food distribution center supported by USAID’s Office of Food for Peace (FFP). The delegates met with workers and recipients of emergency food aid, provided by the World Food Program, and learned about the challenges many families face in accessing nutritious foods in the country. They also discussed ways to modernize our U.S. food-aid system in order to increase flexibility for food-aid funding, end the wasteful practice of open-market monetization, and eliminate cargo preference so that food aid dollars can be efficiently used to save millions of more lives every year.
Next, the group traveled nearly 2,000 miles to Nampula, Mozambique, where they visited an agricultural research center to learn how agronomics are developing inputs and creating improved seed varieties for smallholder farmers and communities, thus increasing production and reducing food and nutrition insecurity in the country. Mozambique is another important actor in southern Africa that is working to address chronic food insecurity throughout the entire region. Given the country’s geographic location and availability of highly fertile land, Mozambique could become a regional breadbasket. Despite Mozambique’s potential, however, challenges persist. Poverty and food insecurity remain widespread because of low crop yields and inadequate access to markets. Through the Feed the Future Initiative, the U.S. government supports agricultural development programs in 23 districts in Mozambique with the highest need, in order to reduce stunting and poverty.
After spending time in Nampula, the group traveled to Angoche in northern Mozambique and linked up with American celebrity chefs, Cat Cora, Carla Hall, Antonia Lofaso and Spike Mendelsohn. Together, they visited a program, Primeiras e Segundas, run by CARE and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) as part of the CARE-WWF Alliance. The goal is to conserve and improve the fragile ecosystem of the Primeiras and Segundas Environmental Protection Area (PSEPA), while strengthening the livelihoods of the communities that depend on the area’s marine and terrestrial resources. The delegation visited a farmer field school that provides integrated agriculture training and education to vulnerable farmers to improve their crop varieties and promote conservation agriculture techniques. The group talked with local farmers to understand how these new techniques are increasing food production, improving food and nutrition security for their families and leaving a healthier footprint on the environment.
The fourth day of the trip focused on the importance of linking Mozambican farmers to larger markets. The delegates visited a cashew processing factory in Nampula, supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), to learn about the importance of supporting small businesses and helping farmers access larger markets to sell their products, including companies in the U.S. such as Walmart and Kraft. The delegation also toured a poultry farm in Nampula that is supported by Technoserve to provide training and capacity-building to smallholder farmers so that they can raise chickens and earn an income from this small business.
To conclude the trip, the group participated in a roundtable briefing with donors and partners from WFP, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) and the Department for International Development. The discussion explored the role that donors play in supporting the government of Mozambique so that it can improve its food and nutrition security policies and the role the U.S. can, and should, play in ending hunger. The Global Food Security Act of 2015 (S.1252 and H.R. 1567) requires a comprehensive and coordinated U.S. strategy for global food security that focuses on women and smallholder producers and leverages natural resource management practices. This bill maintains and improves U.S. programs in developing countries that increase sustainable and equitable agricultural development, reduce global hunger and improve nutrition. The Global Food Security Act also requires a strategic, effective and transparent approach to U.S. food security assistance, with annual reporting to both Congress and the American public and is a strong vehicle for improvements in long-term food security for countries facing extreme poverty.
The United States has long been a leader in fighting global hunger, through emergency food assistance and long-term food security programs alike. Fifteen years into the 21st century, fewer people are hungry than ever before. To address long-term food and nutrition security needs, it will be critical to continue building the resilience and capacity of smallholder farmers, particularly women. Women farmers and their families are vulnerable to a range of risks and shocks deriving from factors over which they have little or no control, including volatile food prices, natural disasters, human conflict and high dependence on dwindling natural resources. Effective interventions that can improve agriculture systems are key.
Participants in CARE’s August 2015 Learning Tour to Djibouti and Mozambique included:
- Janae Brady – Senior Professional staffer, Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS), Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry
- Phil Karsting – Administrator, Foreign Agricultural Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture • Jonathan McCracken – Legislative Assistant, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH)
- Arlene Mitchell – Executive Director, Global Child Nutrition Foundation
- Ray Starling – Senior Policy Advisor, Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC)
For more information on CARE’s Learning Tours, please visit www.care.org/LearningTours. The CARE Learning Tours program is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Founded in 1945, CARE is a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty. CARE places special focus on working alongside poor girls and women because, equipped with the proper resources, they have the power to lift whole families and entire communities out of poverty. Last year, CARE worked in 90 countries and reached more than 72 million people around the world.
Nicole Harris, +1-404-735-0871, firstname.lastname@example.org