Feeding the Future

March 25, 2011 By Melissa Silverman

Food security is a hot topic this morning, from the pages of The Washington Post to USGLC’s Global Impact blog.  Post columnist and former George W. Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson shares the story of dairy farmers in Malawi, and how agriculture training from USAID and small loans can mean the difference between subsistence farming and profitable small business. Gerson offers strong support for USAID’s Feed the Future program, writing  “Feed the Future is innovative — and besieged…It is a good idea in need of champions.” Some of those champions can be found among the giants of American business, as the USGLC blog spotlights an innovative public-private partnership between Feed the Future and Walmart. A new agreement will support small rural farmers in Central America by connecting them to Walmart’s regional and international supply chains. This partnership leverages corporate expertise and USAID’s networks to help small farmers across Central America earn better prices for their produce.

Must Reads

Who’s In the News

Clinton, Gates to brief Congress (Jonathan Allen, Politico)

As the White House works to assuage congressional anger over U.S. entry into armed conflict in Libya, four top national security officials will give a classified briefing to lawmakers on the war next Wednesday afternoon. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, are all expected to speak on the topic of “U.S. Policies and Military Operations in Libya,” according to an invitation circulated to House members.

What Obama should tell Congress about Libya (Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon, Washington Post)

I do not wish to undermine the commander in chief’s decision or his leadership while our fighting men and women are in harm’s way. I do, however, expect an explanation of the nature of this threat and how U.S. interests will be advanced through force of arms.

Smart Power

In Malawi, the toll of U.S. budget-cutting (Michael Gerson)

Donata Kuchawo’s cow pen is as clean as a well-tended garden. She has only one cow, but she owes it a great deal. Before the cow, she scraped by on subsistence farming — exhausting, back-bending work, rewarded only by survival. Her five children spent part of each year hungry.

American Business Needs to Get in the Game (Fred Hochberg, President Ex-Im Bank, the Huffington Post)

In today’s global economy, nations that build together — and buy from each other — are invested in ways that go far deeper than just business transactions. They are investing in each other’s prosperity, security and economic vitality. They are investing in the hopes and dreams of each other’s citizens. When we make these investments, regardless of what happens on the playing field, both our countries — and our citizens — come away winners.

MCC Board Meeting Focuses on Results and Compact Closeouts (Casey Dunning, CGD)

The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) hosted its quarterly post-board outreach meeting today.  MCC CEO Daniel Yohannes said no major decisions took place at the March meeting.  Instead, the board focused on MCC’s core business principles, including results and lessons learned. They also discussed compacts that are almost complete in Vanuatu, Georgia, Nicaragua, Benin, and Armenia.

Politics/Foreign Policy

People change the destiny of nations (Shamshad Akhtar, World Bank blog)

The Arab world is all too often in the headlines for geo-political tensions and cross border conflicts. Today it is in the grip of a peoples’ uprising that is demanding change in political regimes, respect for citizens’ rights, governance and quality of life.

US foreign aid faces cuts as China’s reach grows (AP)

U.S. efforts to counter China’s growing influence in the developing world are a likely casualty of the budget battles dominating Washington’s politics, as chunks of the foreign aid program face the ax. That could hurt not just the world’s poor, but America’s reach in emerging markets where China has ramped up investment and provided easy credit.

Defense task force on Afghanistan development unravels (Rajiv Chandrasekaran, the Washington Post)

A prominent Pentagon task force that has sought to help Afghanistan exploit its mineral wealth and expand private-sector employment is being gutted by resignations and will be forced to scale back significantly because of a congressional demand that its operations be folded into the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Governor Herbert Showcased Utah’s Export Success (Utah Business)

Governor Gary R. Herbert met with a top U.S. trade official to showcase Utah’s remarkable international export performance. In his State of the State address, the Governor called on Utah businesses to double exports in the next five years, just as they have done in the previous five years.