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USAID: "Agriculture Development is Springboard for Economic Development"

By Opportunity International

Opportunity International is attending today’s Symposium on Global Agriculture and Food Security in Washington, D.C., sponsored by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

Keynote speaker Rajiv Shah, administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, unveiled the Feed the Future Guide, which details the implementation strategy for the U.S. government’s new global hunger and food security initiative. Shah called for a major focus on women farmers, who can make the difference between the initiative’s success and failure.

One of the two key objectives of Feed the Future is to accelerate inclusive agriculture sector growth by:

  • Improving agricultural productivity
  • Expanding markets and trade
  • Increasing economic resilience in vulnerable rural communities­­

This is also Opportunity International’s agricultural finance strategy, which is providing access to savings accounts and agricultural loans in rural areas of sub-Saharan Africa, where less than 10 percent of the population has access to financial services. Opportunity’s strategy goes beyond simply providing agricultural credit and is creating a model designed to increase the farmer’s chance for success while mitigating risk. As a key component, Opportunity is developing strategic partnerships with extension service providers to equip farmers with training and market linkages that can help to improve crop productivity and household income. Read more about this initiative, which is being supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and The MasterCard Foundation, at Opportunity.org/GatesandMasterCard.

Shah said that one of the most important things we can do is “hold each other’s feet to the fire.” He reported that 25,000 people per day die of hunger-related causes, and “we know that doesn’t have to happen.”

It’s time for all of us to join the growing movement to alleviate poverty and increase food security through our support of farmers in the developing world. Visit FeedtheFuture.gov.

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