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Resilience in the Face of Drought
News of extreme heat and widespread drought in America’s heartland is everywhere I look. With more than 75 percent of the nation’s corn and soybean crops in drought-affected areas, both farmers and ranchers are feeling the effects. Livestock producers in particular are seeing higher feed costs due to soaring corn and soybean prices. These challenges may eventually result in increased grain and food prices for millions of consumers in America and abroad, especially in food insecure countries.
Although this is a challenging situation, decades of investment and research have provided U.S. farmers and ranchers with tools including innovative plant and animal genetics and improved management of soil, water, and agronomic practices, to reduce the impact of prolonged drought and heat. We are seeing how these innovations, coupled with crop insurance and risk management tools, can help manage this summer’s extreme weather conditions.
Today, farmers in sub-Saharan Africa and large parts of South Asia and Southeast Asia are at a disadvantage because they do not yet have access to similar innovations in science, technology, and risk management tools available in other parts of the world. But there is hope. Recent momentum in collaborations between governments, development agencies, civil society and private business are improving the tools and resources available to farmers in the developing world. Examples that can be applied across the drought stricken areas of West Africa’s Sahel Zone can currently be seen in Ethiopia, Kenya and Senegal.
The Global Harvest Initiative focuses specifically on policy advocacy and outreach to promote productivity growth and resource preservation across the globe, all in the face of challenging climate conditions. It is my hope that more farmers and pastoralists in developing countries will gain access to the innovations that continue to help American farmers and ranchers overcome drought and extreme climate challenges.