Food Aid Reform

In an op-ed published in the Chicago Tribune, USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah, Secretary of State John Kerry, and Secretary of the Department of Agriculture Tom Vilsack explain “our hallmark food assistance program has not evolved with the times.” President Obama has proposed a number of reforms that could help the U.S.  ”feed up to 4 million more hungry people every year” while reducing costs. From purchasing locally-sourced food to using electronic payments, the officials say such strategies can help the U.S. “carry out its development mission more effectively and efficiently – not to perpetuate dependency, but to advance human dignity.”

In an editorial, the Chicago Tribune says it considers the current Food for Peace program a “terribly expensive and inefficient system. We’re pleased to see the Obama administration make a run at changing that… the administration has proposed a modest reform that can save money and feed more people.” The editorial continues,  ”Food aid can help to lift developing nations out of poverty, promote political stability and economic growth. It must be structured efficiently to achieve its objective. Reforming food aid would enable America to do justice to a large taxpayer outlay – and to save lives.”

USAID, Swedish Ministry for International Development, and African Development Bank launch Agriculture Fast Track at World Economic Forum

Business Day Live reports, the “fund – called Agriculture Fast Track – is the first of its kind and marks a new approach to development aid by western donors, that aims to promote economic growth through commercial agriculture.” In short, “Agriculture Fast Track’s purpose will be to fund some of the front-end costs of developing agricultural infrastructure, such as scoping, project design and feasibility studies, with the aim of leveraging private funding to commit to the projects.”