DuPont and the Alliance to End Hunger Host Congressional Briefing on Food Security

June 14, 2016

DuPont Executive Vice President Jim Collins described food security as “representing one of the greatest challenges of the 21st century” during a June 9 briefing on Capitol Hill to release the findings of the Global Food Security Index (GFSI) prepared by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).  The event was sponsored by DuPont and the Alliance to End Hunger.

“While the Index has charted improvements in food security across the globe, it has also exposed how still-fragile food systems are straining to overcome local challenges,” Collins said.  DuPont is the exclusive sponsor of the Index, and this year marks the fifth year DuPont has collaborated with the EIU on assessing critical factors driving food security in the areas of food affordability, accessibility, and quality and safety.

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Alliance COO Rebecca Middleton delivers opening remarks (Photo: Nathan Magrath, Alliance to End Hunger)

Rebecca Middleton, chief operating officer of the Alliance to End Hunger, told the more than 80 guests assembled that, “As we engage with our international partners who are advocating for policies and practices to improve food security, we hear again and again their need for evidence-based tools to reinforce their policy request.  The Global Food Security Index will help us measure how our renewed approach to development is having an impact around the world.”

Chief among the Index findings is that while most of the food-security improvements in the last five years have been seen in middle-income countries, low-income countries continue to lag behind.  “Risk from climate change, population growth and potential spikes in food prices pose threats to the most food insecure populations, as poor countries are the least able to deal with these factors,” noted Leo Abruzzese, EIU global director of public policy.

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Panel discussion (left to right): Beth Dunford, USAID; Ron De Weerd, Foods Resource Bank; Magaret Zeigler, Global Harvest Initiative; Roger Thurow, The Chicago Council (moderator). (Photo: Nathan Magrath, Alliance to End Hunger)

Following Abruzzese’s presentation of the key GFSI findings for 2016, a panel of experts discussed the need for continued government programs and policies, as well as public and private investment in fast developing nations.  Roger Thurow, senior fellow at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and author of the new book, The First 1,000 Days: A Crucial Time for Mothers and Children—And the World, served as moderator.

“We need country governments to invest more of their resources in agriculture and food security, but we need them to do that in a way that is effective and sustainable, and really putting in place the right kinds of policies that can mobilize private sector investment that is the key to long term investment,” said Beth Dunford, assistant to the administrator, Bureau for Food Security and deputy coordinator for development for Feed the Future, USAID.

Margaret Zeigler, executive director of the Global Harvest Initiative, added that “we need to continue these messages of investing in ag R&D. That’s one of our primary areas of policy focus. The rubber meets the road at the country level, and at the local level we can use the findings from the Index to engage directly with governments.”

Ron De Weerd, director of development for the Foods Resources Bank, citied the farmer field school approach as a model for educating farmers about sustainable agricultural practices and making an impact at the community level.

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Senator Chris Coons (DE) provided remarks near the end of the program. (Photo: Nathan Magrath, Alliance to End Hunger)

Tony Hall, ambassador and Alliance to End Hunger executive director emeritus, and Senator Chris Coons (D-Delaware), closed out the program.

“At the root of all hunger is a lack of public and political will to do something about it, and this is why I am so happy to see this mentioned in the GFSI. And while this is statistically rigorous, this report also mentions that food security challenges can only be met with appropriate policies that are implemented through countries led by the rule of law,” said Ambassador Hall.

Senator Coons recounted programs that are making a significant difference in food security, including a DuPont Pioneer project in Ethiopia, conducted as part of USAID’s Feed the Future program, which is significantly improving maize yields.

“Briefings like this are important, but even more important is sharing what you heard today to those who aren’t in the room” said Senator Coons.  “The fact that there is a GFSI, that it gives out measurable outcome indicators, and that it helps point the way towards significant improvements in both economy efficiency and efficacy is something I hope you will share.”