What is in this article?:
- US agriculture eases hunger, poverty abroad
- Training and technology
- U.S. government organizations like the Millennium Challenge Corporation and the United States Agency for International Development are making strides to assist farmers in developing nations and, as a result, help those nations fight poverty and hunger.
DANIEL YOHANNES, chief executive officer of the Millennium Challenge Corporation, addresses the Mississippi State University Food Security Conference. At left are Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., and Mark Keenum, Mississippi State University president. (Photo by Russ Houston, MSU)
Mid-South and U.S. farmers face challenges daily — such as drought, frost, and pests — but advanced technology and farming methods and government subsidies mitigate the problems to some degree.
In developing countries, however, the absence of organization, modern techniques, and adequate tools makes farming a much more difficult profession, resulting in widespread problems ranging from malnutrition to starvation.
U.S. government organizations like the Millennium Challenge Corporation and the United States Agency for International Development are making strides to assist farmers in developing nations and, as a result, help those nations fight poverty and hunger.
At an international conference on food security at Mississippi State University, Daniel Yohannes and Jolyne Sanjak from MCC and Raj Shah from USAID discussed programs that their organizations are creating to expand agricultural production and markets in these countries. The programs are steadily improving infrastructure, providing advanced technology, and training farmers to use more effective methods.
Since its establishment in 2004, the MCC mission has been responding to specific needs of agricultural communities in developing countries. Sanjak, MCC managing director of technical services, said the organization is a “demand-driven model, not U.S. government-driven.”
MCC has invested $4.6 billion in 11 African countries; 60 percent of its funds are invested in infrastructure, such as rural roads and ports, to help transport crops to markets more efficiently.
Yohannes, chief executive officer of MCC, said the organization is committed to providing the best and most cost-effective programs. “We owe it to American taxpayers to get the best return for your investment. We are more and more open to embracing the culture of change, innovating how we do business.”
To that end, MCC evaluates the success of its programs based on evidence such as increased traffic on roads, increased production and revenue for farmers, and whether their methods increase household income.
From 2006 to 2012, MCC partnered with the West African country of Mali to increase agricultural production and revenue. A major venture was the Alatona Irrigation Project, which resulted in improved water distribution technology and minimized water waste through real-time monitoring of water management systems.
MCC has also invested heavily in training — 227,000 farmers have been trained since its initial stages. The organization makes gender integration a priority because, in many developing countries, women are excluded from certain agricultural activities, which weakens agricultural communities. Therefore, they insure that women benefit from MCC assistance programs.
When MCC established a dairy program in Nicaragua in 2006, 21 percent of its beneficiaries were women, who are now on the boards of Milk Collection Centers. Additionally, quality and hygiene improvements were made in yogurt and cheese production, which are traditionally female activities in Nicaragua.
Prior to the dairy project, Sanjak said, “Livestock activities were seen as a masculine work.”