Supporting food security through increasing agricultural productivity and scientific research is a long-term effort, requiring the engagement of the U.S. government, academia and the private sector. Achieving sustainability and resilience to periodic market shocks and economic downturns calls for multi-year and multi-sector strategies. But too often in the past, we have lost focus when the next need, idea, or new administration comes along. This happened in the 1990s when the world diverted its attention from investments in global agriculture, which contributed to Africa’s productivity losses and the continent’s inability to rebound from the 2007-2008 global price spikes.
U.S. leadership in global food security is not a partisan issue, and regardless of who will be elected as our next president and his or her party affiliation, we need continuity in our programs, particularly in those that evidence shows work. That is why The Lugar Center is calling on our presidential candidates to prioritize U.S. leadership in global food security as part of their foreign policy agendas. We are providing them with the latest data on the causes and consequences of hunger and stand ready to brief their foreign policy teams.
Looking ahead, it is not just the 793 million people today who are chronically hungry. We face the challenge of feeding more than 9 billion people by the year 2050. Most of the 2 billion in new population growth will occur in countries that are already food insecure. Feeding this burgeoning population will be complicated by an increasing rural to urban shift, demands for more protein-rich diets, stresses on water and soil health, and the effects of climate change.
To meet that challenge, it is critical that the United States continues its leadership in reducing chronic hunger and the related devastating effects of stunting. And, we need to further invest in areas such as science, research and development, partnerships with foreign agriculture universities in developing countries, and supporting working markets and entrepreneurs.
We will be monitoring the campaigns and reporting on their positions via The Lugar Center webpage blog to keep you updated throughout the rest of the electoral cycle.