USAID-OFDA Agriculture and Food Security Sector Update, Fiscal Year 2017
Natural disasters—such as drought, floods, and insect infestations—and conflict can have critical impacts on the food security and livelihoods of affected populations. USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA) supports agriculture and food security interventions that increase livelihood opportunities and address the immediate needs of disaster-affected populations unable to meet their basic food requirements. USAID/OFDA also works to strengthen local disaster response capacity and increase community resilience to shocks that could negatively affect agricultural activities and food security.
In the aftermath of disasters, USAID/OFDA supports agricultural infrastructure rehabilitation and economic recovery by providing agriculture-based livelihood assistance. USAID/OFDA-funded programs also target livestock and fisheries, support pest control initiatives, assist animal health endeavors, and supply agricultural inputs to vulnerable households. In Fiscal Year (FY) 2017, USAID/OFDA provided nearly $124.5 million to UN agencies and non-governmental organizations to support agriculture and food security activities in 30 countries.
Strengthening Crop Production in Southern Africa
Stable crop production is crucial for improving food security and reducing poverty in Southern Africa. Despite average rainfall and harvests in the 2016/2017 agricultural season, smallholder-farming communities that cultivate maize in Southern Africa faced two key post-harvest challenges: pests, such as grain borers and weevils, and reduced profits. Pest infestations can result in a post-harvest storage loss of up to 30 percent in six months. Additionally, immediately selling harvest yields reduces profits for smallholder farmers, as food prices typically decrease following the harvest due to increased food availability.
With $275,000 in FY 2017 funding, USAID/OFDA supported Purdue University to strengthen food security in central and southern Malawi by distributing Purdue Improved Crop Storage (PICS) bags, which prevent pest infestations and mold growth. With USAID/OFDA funding, Purdue University also provided loans to smallholder farmers—offsetting immediate cash needs following the harvest and enabling farmers to store harvests for sale when food prices increase—as part of a pilot program to observe the effect of loans on sale and storage behaviors.