Opinion: Building on commitments to improve food and nutrition security in Ethiopia

By Guest Author

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



By Jim Borel

During President Barack Obama's recent historic visit to Africa, he said that the continent is on the move and that a new Africa is emerging. It is true. A new Africa is indeed emerging at a transformative time for the continent. The population of Africa is expected to make up more than half of the projected global population growth by 2050.

Ethiopia, a prominent stop during President Obama's trip, is the second most populous country on the continent, and one that is at the epicenter of food security and poverty challenges. Every day Ethiopia is confronting hurdles in its ongoing efforts to develop local agriculture and the economy and improve the availability of nutritious food. Thus the reason for Ethiopia being one of the priority countries for the U.S. Government's Feed the Future initiative, led by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

USAID and DuPont share a common vision that the unprecedented challenge ahead will require everyone working together inside and outside of our respective organizations in ways we are now only imagining. We need continued collaboration with non-traditional partners and global leaders to arrive at and implement truly sustainable solutions.

Ethiopia is proving that when we come together, progress can be made. This East African country has reduced the number of people living under the poverty line, increased the general food supply and established national dietary guidelines in recent years. These are just some of the factors that contributed to Ethiopia's improved Global Food Security Index rankings.

To ensure people everywhere have equitable access to safe, affordable and nutritious food, we must bring innovation to places that need it most. We must strengthen local food value chains and agricultural systems. As a part of our commitment to advancing global food and nutrition security, DuPont is collaborating to combat malnutrition and boost smallholder farmer productivity in Ethiopia and countries around the world.

Malnutrition comes with a steep price tag in terms of economic, health, development and social welfare costs. And, these issues will be further exacerbated by urbanization and a burgeoning population.

Given cultural tastes and nutrition needs in Ethiopia, soy protein was identified a potential solution that could provide health benefits for growth and development, weight management, and muscle health from infancy to adulthood. National Ethiopian company FAFFA Foods, which hosted President Obama during his trip, collaborated with DuPont Nutrition & Health to develop a nutrient-rich protein that is helping boost the nutrition content in local Ethiopian diets.

In order to improve nutrition, we must also ensure support for local farmers. Globally, farmers and their families make up more than half of the 805 million people who are hungry. If we want to feed the world and fuel economic development, we have to make sure farmers can feed their own families first, and then ultimately, have enough remaining crop to sell at market.

Through an initiative called the Advanced Maize Seed Adoption Program (AMSAP), smallholder farmers are benefitting from increased access to improved agronomic practices, extension services, grain storage and quality inputs such as seed technology. Together, these efforts help their operation be more productive and profitable. Over 10,000 smallholder farmers have seen their maize yields double or triple. AMSAP also is opening up new markets for farmers as much of the grain supplied for FAFFA Food's Corn Soy Blend products is supplied by smallholder AMSAP farmers. And this is just the beginning.

To further support smallholder farmers, USAID announced it is extending the AMSAP with collaborators, which include DuPont Pioneer and the Government of Ethiopia, to reach 100,000 Ethiopian farmers by 2018 with new high-yield seed technologies and technical assistance.

During his trip, President Obama emphasized that we cannot just be in the business of donating, but we must ensure we're in the business of creating entrepreneurs, opportunity and capacity locally so that over time Ethiopia will not only be able to feed itself, but will be a food exporter as well. The challenges facing the agriculture and food industries today, and into the future, are significant, no doubt. I believe that by working together - across the public and private sectors and geographies - we can multiply these examples of success in Ethiopia and in other parts of the world within our lifetime.

Lets Talk Food About the Author: Jim Borel is executive vice president and a member of the company's Office of the Chief Executive. He also has responsibilities for DuPont Pioneer, Crop Protection and Nutrition & Health businesses, as well as Latin America's regional management. Mr. Borel serves on the board of trustees of the National 4-H Council, the board of directors of CropLife International; the board of trustees of Farm Foundation, the board of trustees of the University of Delaware, and the board of directors of Grocery Manufacturers Association.

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