The Biden administration just released the President’s Budget for fiscal year 2022. This is the process through which the U.S. administration secures funding for national priorities, including international solidarity and development cooperation. Unfortunately, the administration is underestimating the urgent need to support agricultural development in the face of looming food security challenges, exacerbated by the Covid-19 crisis.

So let’s put pressure on Congress to make agricultural development a priority. Send a letter to Congress to demand a commitment of $125 million as the first payment in a new four-year commitment to the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program, an innovative fund for improving food security and ending hunger.

What is the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program?

In 2010, the United States was instrumental in creating the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP) in response to the global food security crises that struck many poor countries in 2007 and 2008. The spike in food prices made many basic items unaffordable, forcing many of these countries to depend on food imports. This reliance on imports exacerbated challenges from previously having to dismantle their food production systems under the pressure of international financial institutions and international trade.

World leaders made it a priority to support agricultural sectors in poor countries in order to reconstitute their capacity to produce food for their people.

Since 2010, the U.S. government contributed $653.1 million to GASFP, reaching 15 million smallholder farmers and their families in 47 countries. U.S. support included enhancing productivity, enabling access to markets, improving nutrition services, increasing employment especially for women, and building communities’ resilience to climate change. Many families were able to access the food they needed thanks to strengthened agricultural sectors.

During the Covid-19 crisis, GAFSP has supported post-harvest interventions to improve storage, offered trainings on best health practices, and provided personal protective equipment to program participants.

In 2020, GAFSP launched a new fundraising target of $1.5 billion between 2020 and 2025 to address growing challenges in the face of climate change and the Covid-19 crisis.

Why should Congress support the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program?

We are now facing a major hunger crisis like what we witnessed in 2007 and 2008. The current state of food insecurity is bleak:

  • 690 million people around the world suffer from hunger.
  • 2 billion people are food insecure, meaning they can’t access food when they need.
  • 34 million people are living on the brink of famine.

ActionAid USA is calling for a new commitment from the United States to the GAFSP as part of a renewed commitment to ending hunger: $125 million per year over the next four years. Unfortunately, the Biden Administration failed to include this in the Presidential Budget request. It’s up to Congress to make ending hunger and supporting smallholder farmers a priority.

The Biden administration is underestimating the urgent need to support agricultural development in the face of looming food security challenges. Increasing support for agricultural development would allow countries to cope with the hunger and climate crises exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. Without addressing hunger, it is nearly impossible to make progress on other development priorities such as public health and education.

ActionAid USA is now requesting Congress to commit $125 million to the GAFSP in FY22. In doing so, the U.S. will contribute to the following outcomes:

  1. Sustainable food systems in more than 30 countries
  2. A 20% increase in income for 10 million farmers
  3. The creation of 1.1 million new farm jobs
  4. Improved food security for millions of households
  5. Climate change adaptation and mitigation in rural communities

Additionally, GAFSP would support ongoing Covid-19 response and recovery.

Germany, Spain, Australia, Norway, and the Gates Foundation have already committed nearly $300 million to the GAFSP. Congress must use its power to push for a funding commitment to replenish GAFSP and help prevent a major food crisis.

Disclosure: ActionAid USA sits on the GAFSP Steering Committee as a representative of civil society from developed countries, and receives some funding to monitor and evaluate GAFSP programming.