Why Invest in Rural Development?

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World Food Day - October 16, 2017

By C.D. Glin, President/CEO

Right now populations are on the move in search of better employment opportunities within and across countries. Without stable food security, people are more likely to pick up in search of more prosperous livelihoods—in 2015, there were over 240 million international migrants, the majority coming from rural areas. Reducing rural poverty and increasing economic opportunities are key to not only addressing the root causes of migration, but to fighting hunger. Today, World Food Day, reminds us that hunger affects over one billion people in the world and is one of the key drivers of migration.

The U.S. African Development Foundation (USADF) works at the grassroots level to assist emerging businesses to build the foundation of economic prosperity. Rural development can address factors that compel people to move by creating new business opportunities and jobs for young people. USADF gives farmers a voice and a choice in their economic development priorities, working at the grassroots to assist hundreds of emerging businesses to develop better enterprise management skills, improve production and distribution capabilities, and access larger markets.  Over 70 percent of USADF investments are in the agricultural sector, aimed at improving food security and productivity. Our purpose and focus is on creating pathways to prosperity for underserved communities, those at the first mile of development.

In Nigeria, where insecurity and hunger threaten stability, USADF is addressing critical constraints with smallholder farmers to accelerate agriculture-led economic growth. With food insecurity threatening places like Kaduna, Kano and the Niger Delta, USADF invests in long-term solutions to enterprise development. For example, in Kaduna State in northern Nigeria, USADF is working with sorghum producers to consolidate and market sorghum to large buyers and purchase high quality seed which enable farmers to obtain higher prices and higher yields. Our farmers not only increased their yields by 87 percent  but also saw their incomes increase threefold, impacting the livelihoods of over 50,000 people.

Earlier this year, I visited Mali, where migration and violence are everyday challenges. USADF is supporting community enterprises to expand to sell to the World Food Program (WFP) and generate food security reserves to replace external reliance on food aid.  Diedougou Cereal Cooperative employs over 2,000 farmers, and contributes to Mali’s food security by selling surplus corn, sorghum, cowpeas and millet to organizations such as WFP. With a USADF enterprise expansion grant of $110,000, Diedougou Cooperative has tripled its access to commercial loans. With more cash flow, the cooperative can immediately purchase its members’ cereals for re-sale and pay farmers on the spot. By focusing at the grassroots to build more resilient livelihoods and pathways to prosperity, enterprises like Diedougou can build stable, prosperous businesses, reduce rural poverty and achieve food security.

By creating economic opportunities and promoting self-sufficiency, USADF aims to put underserved communities on a long-term pathway to food security and stability through enterprise development. This is more than just assistance-- this is developing the tools necessary for long-term, sustained growth.

Teaming Up with Communities in the Fight to End Hunger

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By C.D. Glin, President & CEO

Celebrating Feed the Future Week 2017

            A year ago I joined the U.S. African Development Foundation (USADF) and have seen the incredible work and results that can occur when 11 U.S. Government agencies team up in the fight to end hunger. Feed the Future, the U.S. Government’s global hunger and food security initiative, is attacking the root causes of hunger and poverty in 12 new target countries to give communities the tools they need to feed themselves. As I testified to U.S. Congress in July, USADF addresses hunger and food insecurity at the root cause by focusing at the grassroots. In 6 out of the 12 new Feed the Future target countries, including Kenya, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, and Uganda, USADF provides underserved communities a voice and a choice in their economic development priorities.

Our community-driven approach means that we listen to farmers’ self-stated needs to catalyze agricultural-led economic growth in these communities. For instance, in Turkana, northern Kenya, a region that is food insecure, we’ve helped communities move from being food aid dependent to self-sufficient food producers and entrepreneurs. This means stable communities, less food aid dependence, and local enterprise creation. Over 70 percent of our investments are focused on supporting agriculture-led economic growth for smallholder farmers, who represent a majority of Africa’s labor force and the backbone of its economies. USADF grants assist hundreds of agricultural cooperatives to develop better enterprise management skills, improve production and distribution capabilities and access larger markets. Through Feed the Future, USADF has invested over $36 million in agricultural investments in Africa. We have worked with over 180,000 farmers, over half of which are women, and impacted nearly 1 million people who are living free from hunger.

We also know that food security is important to national security. Hunger and food price spikes, lack of economic opportunities, and youth joblessness are primary drivers of political instability and civil unrest. Earlier this year, I visited cereal cooperatives in central Mali, where USADF is partnering with community enterprises to boost food productivity and incomes for farmer members. Despite conflict and instability in Mali, with USADF support to nearly 2,000 farmers, Diédougou Cooperative has more than quadrupled the quantity of cereals sold annually. By investing in farmers to increase cereal production, Diédougou Cooperative is not only generating economic growth for its members, but selling surplus cereal grains to new markets, such as the World Food Program and private wholesalers.

Given the challenges of providing enough food for growing populations around the world, innovation is necessary to increase food security. With local technical partners in 20 countries in Africa, USADF supports innovation to help boost agricultural-led growth. By integrating new technology into agriculture, we see major dividends for farmers. For example, through the Off-Grid Energy Challenge, USADF provides seed capital to energy entrepreneurs who are designing mechanized equipment to help farmers, such as solar-powered maize mills and solar irrigation kits.

We know we have the tools necessary to end hunger by 2030. By empowering community enterprises like Kanybek in South Sudan, a small maize cooperative who recently opened a bakery on the outskirts of Juba with their savings, we can give communities the tools necessary to feed themselves. We enable poor and vulnerable populations to participate in their own development, to enhance opportunities for themselves and to create pathways to self-sufficiency and prosperity via enterprise creation. Through Feed the Future, the U.S. African Development Foundation transforms the quality of life for millions of people in communities across Africa and strengthens America’s leadership role in Africa and the world.   

C.D. Glin is the President and CEO of the U.S. African Development Foundation. Prior to joining USADF, from 2011-2016 Glin was based in Nairobi, Kenya as the Associate Director for Africa for the Rockefeller Foundation, and previously served as a White House appointee at the U.S. Peace Corps as the first Director of Intergovernmental Affairs and Global Partnerships.