The Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2009, signed by President Obama on March 11, 2009, provided $75 million in agriculture funds targeted to food security. These funds provide essential continuity to programs begun in 2008 and allow new investments to build a foundation for the launch in 2010 of a broader long-term strategy to sustainably reduce hunger and malnutrition.
A larger food security strategy is currently being developed under the leadership of the Department of State. This will be global in scope and will incorporate significant input from USAID.
USAID's current food security effort continues high priority investments in Africa launched last year. These focused on investments that have the greatest potential to increase agricultural productivity rapidly and reach the most vulnerable people. The funds will also build a base for targeted activities in Asia where the largest number of food insecure people live. Latin America, which will also be part of the strategy, has received priority for funding within the overall agriculture budget and thus is not reported here.
The new funding is critical to keep momentum, focus and delivery of results in the two regions where USAID food security activities were concentrated last fall -- West Africa and East Africa. In West Africa, the focus is on raising productivity and trade to substantially increase the availability of staple foods and the incomes of farmers and other food insecure rural households. Successful programs will be replicated, such as the warehouse receipts project begun in Ghana, and new programs will fill gaps such as expanded rural financial services and delivering more economical agricultural inputs, such as seeds, irrigation and fertilizer technology. The continued focus in East Africa is on increasing smallholder and pastoralist participation in food markets, using local and regional procurement of food as a catalyst for developing markets for small-scale producers critical to rural economic growth. Intra-regional trade support will improve access to food while expanding economic growth opportunities for mostly rural populations.
Looking forward to the new, more comprehensive strategy to food security, we will expand efforts to address under-nutrition, a silent dimension of hunger. This includes the role of food-based approaches to nutrition to help the rural poor, especially women and children, often the most tragically vulnerable in areas facing food insecurity. New program interventions will scale up efforts to improve utilization of food to alleviate hunger.
The strategy will devote resources to the value chain approach in key agricultural sectors. It emphasizes expanding business contracts and access to information necessary to spark the market participation necessary to create functioning economies and the role of sustainable agricultural resource management and commits resources toward demonstrating the efficient use of water, biotechnology and environmentally sound production technologies.