Published: July 26, 2013

Building stronger policies to fight global hunger

Contact(s): Kristen Parker University Communications office: (517) 353-8942 cell: (517) 980-0709, Duncan Boughton Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics office: (517) 432-6659 cell: (517) 402-1939

As part of Feed the Future, the federal government’s global hunger and food security initiative, Michigan State University will use a $10 million grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development to strengthen developing countries’ abilities to fight hunger through improved food policy.

The new Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Food Security Policy will be led by MSU’s Food Security Group, partnering with the International Food Policy Research Institute, in Washington, D.C., and the University of Pretoria, in South Africa. An additional $15 million of grant funding could be made available for more intensive country-level programs throughout the next five years.

“The Obama administration’s Feed the Future initiative is a well-designed and powerful program to reduce poverty and improve nutritional outcomes around the globe,” said Duncan Boughton, co-director of the Food Security Group, who will lead the MSU program. “Improvements in food policy achieved through the Innovation Lab for Food Security Policy will further increase the effectiveness and impact of these investments.”

Together, the consortium will work with governments, researchers and private sector stakeholders in as many as 19 Feed the Future focus countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America to increase agricultural productivity, improve dietary diversity and build greater resilience to challenges, like climate change, that affect livelihoods, he said.

The result: higher incomes for farmers, higher quality diets at lower cost for consumers and greater stability in food markets.

MSU’s lab draws on the expertise of a top university and represents a new model of development, using science and technology to address the greatest challenges in agriculture and food security, said USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah.

“The Food Security Policy Innovation Lab builds directly on President Obama’s leadership in launching the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition last year,” Shah said. “It will help many more countries worldwide achieve major policy reforms, attract significant private sector investments and increase economic opportunities for smallholder farmers, other rural people and urban consumers.”

MSU leads two other USAID-funded labs. The Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Collaborative Research on Grain Legumes launched in April to increase bean and legume production by smallholder farms in Africa, Central America and the United States and the Global Center for Food Systems Innovation, part of USAID’s Higher Education Solutions Network, focuses on finding solutions to problems that affect global food production.

MSU’s Food Security Group comprises faculty members in the Department of Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics, whose activities focus on issues of food security, food policy and general agricultural development, primarily in Africa. The group has attracted $112 million in grants throughout 30 years through three USAID food security cooperative agreements.