“We know that your technologies that are in your firms, in your people, in your labs, applied to these problems will make a very specific difference,” Shah said. The top U.S. international development official suggested that seed research under way in major agricultural companies might be applied to projects USAID has in progress now to develop crops that perform better in drought or produce greater and more reliable yields.
Since the early 19th century. The support system became formalized with the creation of a national agricultural extension service in 1914. Introducing mechanisms to improve information exchange and comparative methods is one idea gaining significant attention as a means to improve developing world agriculture.
“We know that sub-Saharan Africa can double or triple its actual food production in a generation,” Shah said. At the same time, systemic changes could help transform the economies of those developing nations to bring hundreds of millions of people out of poverty, he said.
Shah said 21st-century information technologies are already helping farmers improve yields in developing countries: “The modern version of the ‘farmer field school’ is likely to be empowered by information technologies. That is perhaps the greatest transformational force that has taken hold in these communities in the last decade.”
Feed the Future has an ongoing objective to advance new methods and techniques. Shah said the program has already invested more U.S. assistance funds into agriculture and increased consultations with other organizations working in this area.
“In order to make extreme poverty history, we must increase global agricultural production in precisely those places where poverty, hunger and child nutrition are most prevalent,” Rajiv Shah told an audience of mostly graduate students in international relations and development at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies in Washington.
In the 20 countries where Feed the Future concentrates, the focus is on locally designed production strategies targeted to specific regions.
Results are measured at the farm level and at the national level. “This quantitative approach is starting to show promise,” Shah said: The target countries have increased their production by an annual average of 5.8 percent, while the global yearly average increase is just 0.7 percent.
He said agriculture needs to be treated as a business, not solely as a development issue. He pointed to science and technology investment successes USAID has brought to two Asian nations.