Sounds a little wonky, but its critically important to global security and our national security. There are 7 billion people in the world today, and the number of hungry people worldwide now stands at an all-time high of over one billion. Food prices are rising, and countries with a lot of hungry people can be very unstable. The event highlighted the central role played by small-scale farmers, most of whom are women, in solving this crisis. Rural women produce more than half the food in the developing world, and, in Africa, the figure is nearly 70 percent.
The speakers were an all-star cast: Celebrity Chef Art Smith, owner of one of my favorite DC restaurants, Art & Soul; Chris Policinski, President and CEO of Land O’ Lakes, Inc.; Dr. Florence A. Chenoweth, Liberian Minister of Agriculture; Deputy Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development Donald Steinberg; Lydia Sasu, Executive Director of Development Action Association in Ghana, also a farmer in that country; and Women Thrive President Ritu Sharma. Senator Amy Klobuchar and Rep. Jim McGovern also made remarks.
They were all compelling. I was struck by the very real picture painted of these farmers not riding a tractor with large irrigated fields, but instead working in small fields, from dawn to dusk, using simple tools, often working with a baby on her back. These are women who work to feed their families but often have no access to the land, seeds, fertilizers, credits and markets needed for success. These are simple yet important things that can help them succeed and thrive. Helping communities and countries be self-sufficient is not only good for those countries, it helps create more stable communities, which in the long run, is good for all of us.