Nearly 800 million people across the globe will go to bed hungry tonight, most of them smallholder farmers who depend on agriculture to make a living and feed their families. Despite an explosion in the growth of urban slums over the last decade, nearly 75 percent of poor people in developing countries live in rural areas. That’s why growth in the agriculture sector has been found, on average, to be at least twice as effective in reducing poverty as growth in other sectors.
Investing in these smallholder farmers—most of whom are women—is more important than ever. A spike in world food prices in 2008 hurt economies across the world and led to destabilizing riots in over 30 countries. In order to feed a population expected to grow to 9 billion people by 2050, the world will have to double its current food production, all while climate change increases droughts and leads to less predictable rains.
In 2009 at the G-8 Summit in L’Aquila, Italy, President Obama called on global leaders to unlock the transformative potential in agriculture to connect more people to the global economy and pave a path out of poverty. As a result, countries committed more than $22 billion in investments in agricultural development and food security. This set the foundation for Feed the Future, the U.S. Government’s global food security initiative combating hunger, poverty, and malnutrition.