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Gates, Shah, Vilsack Discuss Global Food Security
On May 24th, the Global Harvest Initiative attended the Global Agricultural Development Symposium, sponsored by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. The event brought in several notable speakers and panelists including Bill Gates of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Dr. Rajiv Shah of USAID and Secretary Tom Vilsack of USDA to speak on the current state of global agriculture and food security as well as future strategies to improve global food security.
USAID administrator, Dr. Rajiv Shah, started the event off with a speech entitled, “The True Yields of Food Security,” in which he discussed the importance of partnerships in alleviating hunger through agricultural development. Shah also stressed that advocating for food security is as important as ever, indicating that “investments in food security will put the world in a better position to respond to hunger.”
Next came the 2011 Progress Report on U.S. Leadership in Agricultural Development from the Chicago Council, which assessed the performance of the U.S. Administration with regards to its Feed the Future initiative. The progress report gave average grades overall and indicated that, while the U.S. has stepped up its leadership role in global agricultural development, there is much improvement to be made and work to be done in order to improve food security.
During lunch, Bill Gates spoke on the importance of investing in small farmers and innovation and noted that agricultural development is the second largest focus of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. According to Gates, “Helping poor farmers grow more crops and get them to market is the most powerful lever to reduce hunger and poverty.”
USDA Secretary Vilsack followed with a speech on the importance of partnerships and innovation in achieving results with hunger alleviation. Innovation and partnerships were common themes as Bill Gates also spoke to the importance of innovation, calling it “the key to ending hunger through agricultural development”. In discussing the need for partnerships, Dr. Shah was clear, “The debate about the need for public-private partnerships is over. Working together is the only way we will end hunger.”
For more information about the Symposium on Global Agriculture and Food Security, please see Chicago Council Research Fellow, Roger Thurow’s blog at Global Food for Thought
Read the Chicago Council’s 2011 Progress Report on U.S. Leadership in Global Agricultural Development