Malawi and Zambia have been announced as Feed the Future countries and will receive extra attention and additional technical support from the United States government.
Feed the Future, is a US global hunger initiative the mechanism by which it runs programs collectively around the world, and has unlocked more than – almost $5 billion in agricultural financing.
Speaking during a Digital press briefing, US Special Envoy for Global Food Security Cary Fowler was upbeat on the initiative but stated that a lot of work needs to be done.
“Now we have new investments. Malawi and Zambia have both just been announced as focus Feed the Future countries, which means that they’ll receive extra attention, additional technical support, additional engagement from senior officials across all of our different agencies to really drive change at this moment of window of opportunity. So we think that we’ve seen some progress and that there’s opportunity to do more,” Fowler disclosed.
The Envoy stated that despite the fact that the continent only consumes about three to four percent of the fertilizer in the world; the highest-priced fertilizers in the world are in Africa.
Describing the context as very complicated, Fowler explained that this is the case because they’re farthest away from some of the manufacturing leading to high transport costs.
“Well, it’s the case because they’re farthest away from some of the manufacturing, and certainly for the mineral fertilizers there’s a transportation cost, and because fuel prices are so high these days, the transportation costs are great, and because nitrogen fertilizer is based primarily on natural gas, those – that cost is also great,” he observed.
He proposed that in the long term, there is need to start with some soil mapping work to understand what soils one is really dealing with, what fertilizers and how much are really needed and begin to rotate crops and enrich the soil.
The US invested almost $18 million in agriculture in Malawi last year with an additional $12 million in those supplemental monies $6 billion in humanitarian assistance, but also $760 million in development assistance in response to the global food crisis.
They have leveraged more than $2.6 billion in private sector investment and food security, where there is partnership with commercial entities.
One of the reasons Fowler alongside USAID Global Food Crisis Coordinator Dina Esposito visited Malawi and Zambia was because of the democratic revival in these two countries and their commitment recently shown to combatting corruption.
He highlighted the uncertainty that comes where government policies, regulations, contracts and dealings are not transparent as one of the impediments to outside investment.
In this vein, the envoys challenged the governments about creating a more transparent atmosphere and environment.
He noted that the kind of challenges that Africa faces, particularly in the wake of climate change, is to realize that one of the prerequisites for food security is to have crops that are adapted to that climate change.