Last month, during the 67th session of the United Nations General Assembly, global leaders reported to the world about progress on the Millennium Development Goals, including work to end chronic hunger and malnutrition. In Zambia, close to 50 percent of children are stunted, 60 percent of Zambians have lived in poverty for the past two decades, and agricultural productivity is one-third the world average.
The United States government, the government of Zambia, and private and civil society partners have teamed up to help Zambian farmers and households overcome these challenges. Together, we are making progress.
As part of Feed the Future – the U.S. government's global hunger and food security initiative – the United States is partnering with government, civil society, and the private sector to pursue two ambitious goals: improve nutrition to prevent the stunting or death of millions of children and raise the incomes of millions of people who rely on agriculture for their livelihood.
Feed the Future supports innovation, research and new ways of working with local organizations. Feed the Future investments are helping farmers improve their crops, take advantage of new seed varieties that are resistant to drought and other climate change threats, and protect water and other natural resources. Feed the Future is also helping farmers access new markets where they can sell their products.
In addition, by working with local government and civil society partners, Feed the Future helps ensure that women farmers have equal opportunities to access credit, receive training, and own property. Why is this important? When women increase their income, they tend to invest in their children's health and nutrition and in improvements in their family’s quality of life. Since women are usually in charge of preparing food for their families, their participation in programs that improve nutrition is vital.
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in Zambia is promoting civil society engagement with government across all Feed the Future areas. For instance, Zambia’s Feed the Future investments funded broad stakeholder engagement with the Zambian government during development of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP) compact. In addition, Feed the Future funds are supporting development of the Country Investment Plan, a multi-year projection for government, donor and other investments in the agricultural sector.
A critical element of sustainable agricultural policy reform in Zambia is the presence of organizations with the capacity to produce evidence-based data, policy analysis, and advocacy and outreach to government and other stakeholders. With support from USAID, as well as the Swedish Embassy and other sources, Feed the Future helped establish the Indaba Agricultural Policy Research Institute (IAPRI), a sustainable, indigenous, non-governmental policy institute. IAPRI is already taking an active, independent role in policy dialogue. Agricultural research undertaken by IAPRI is highly respected by all stakeholders.
Feed the Future in Zambia has also set up a Provincial Steering Committee in the geographic focus area, Eastern Province. The Provincial Steering Committee brings together local government, non-government organizations, private sector, and USAID implementing partners on a quarterly basis to promote greater engagement, local input, accountability, learning, and sharing of results and successes. Together, members of the Provincial Steering Committee will identify opportunities for leveraging resources and building on existing activities.
Public private partnerships are a Feed the Future priority. In Zambia, Feed the Future is contributing approximately $12 million to public-private partnerships within two global development alliances: the Commercial Agribusiness for Sustainable Horticulture (CASH) Alliance and the Better Life Alliance.
CASH helps increase the productivity and income of 5,000 farming households in Eastern and Lusaka provinces. Through partnerships with the private sector and development organizations, CASH helps smallholder farmers access inputs and support services for horticultural products and compete in regional and international markets. CASH also helps women, youth, the disabled, and those living with HIV/AIDS to participate in agricultural markets and overcome poverty and food insecurity. Participating organizations include USAID, FRESHMARK Zambia, FRESHPIKT, Stellenbosch University, and CETZAM Financial Services Limited. CASH is implemented by Agribusiness in Sustainable Natural African Plant Products (ASNAPP) – Zambia.
The Better Life Alliance helps smallholder farmers in conservation and game management areas in Eastern Province to adopt conservation agriculture, increase their agricultural productivity, and diversify to soybean and groundnut production. Smallholder crops are sold to a ready market for processing into “It’s Wild” brand peanut butter and other products. USAID, the government of Norway, along with Cargill, Community Markets for Conservation (COMACO), General Mills, and the Wildlife Conservation Society form the Better Life Alliance.
Additionally, Feed the Future’s $13-million long-term investment in agricultural research and development by the Zambian Agriculture Research Institute, international research centers, and private sector organizations is developing and disseminating improved groundnut varieties, better maize and legume planting techniques, drought-tolerant maize varieties, orange-fleshed sweet potatoes, Vitamin A-rich maize, and reduced aflatoxin maize and groundnuts.
Feed the Future has made great progress on food security and nutrition in the last year and will continue to harness opportunities to support government and engage the private sector and civil society. By working in partnership with others, U.S. government support is scaling up successful, innovative interventions that advance shared goals and can ultimately foster global food security.
We are gratified that the Zambian government prioritized agricultural reform – including crop diversification – in its 2013 budget presentation to Parliament.
In May 2012, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton stated, ". . . if we continue to align our investments and resources, find opportunities for partnership, share news of our progress, and share the lessons from our mistakes, and hold each other accountable, I absolutely believe we will succeed in significantly decreasing hunger and poverty worldwide."
The U.S. government looks forward to continued teamwork with the Government of Zambia and other partners to ensure better food security for all Zambians.
Ambassador Mark C. Storella