Global Food Security Research Strategy Unveiled at BIFAD Meeting
This September 12, the Board for International Food and Agricultural Development (BIFAD) convened its 173rd public meeting in Washington, DC, bringing together stakeholders from research and academia, government and other relevant stakeholders to celebrate progress made in food security — both in on-the-ground impact and in the evidence base to drive future advances toward development goals.
After welcoming remarks from BIFAD co-chairs Ann Bartuska and Brady Deaton, Sean Jones, Senior Deputy Assistant Administrator for USAID’s Bureau for Food Security (BFS), gave an update on the Global Food Security Strategy (GFSS), one year in and Feed the Future’s progress. Thanks to Feed the Future’s country-led approach building on strong partnerships, an additional nine million people are free of poverty, 1.6 million households are free from hunger and 1.8 million children are free from stunting, according to Jones. In alignment with the GFSS, Feed the Future, led by USAID, is coordinating a whole-of-government effort to execute implementation plans and country plans in focus countries, as well as upgrading and harmonizing indicators to measure progress.
Nora Lapitan, Senior Science Advisor for BFS, spoke to the labor of love that went into the U.S. Government’s Global Food Security Research Strategy unveiled at the meeting, bringing together various government agencies and public input. Lapitan spoke to the important role of research in tackling the food security challenges presented by population growth, projected at over 10 billion by 2100. “Food production will have to dramatically increase in face of limited land and water. New technologies can help drive productivity gains while contributing to income growth, better diets, reduced risk and improved natural resource management. We also have to address emerging issues, as pathogens like wheat stem rust and wheat blast know no borders,” said Lapitan.
Lapitan shared lessons learned from the Feed the Future Research Strategy (2011-2016), which contributed to 900 innovations, with another 50,000 at various stages of development. The new Global Food Security Research Strategy calls for greater collaboration and coordination between research and technology scaling efforts, with a strong R&D pipeline through which information flows to basic, applied and adaptive research toward the GFSS goals of prosperity, nutrition and resilience. Lapitan gave the example of maize research quickly moving through this cycle in just three years, from mapping of the maize genome to the development and release of several high-yielding, heat-tolerant hybrids in conjunction with private seed companies.
Interagency working groups and other mechanisms will be engaged to share information and monitoring and evaluation approaches, identifying opportunities to coordinate research toward increased integration and accountability, added BIFAD Board Member Pamela Anderson.
Rob Bertram, Chief Scientist for BFS, mentioned that many USAID missions are redesigning programs and portfolios in alignment with new GFSS technical guidance and need to look to research and innovations for the latest technologies to increase upside potential and decrease risk.
This agenda document contains links to recordings and presentations of the full day’s sessions, which showcased many exciting innovations, discoveries and solutions developed by the Feed the Future Innovation Labs in collaboration with a host of national and international public and private sector partners. The resource sidebar on the right also contains downloadable copies of most of the day’s presentations as well as the U.S. Government’s Global Food Security Research Strategy itself. For more information about the Strategy and guidance on incorporating it into programming, see Agrilinks’ tool page.