CHAIRED BY: SENATE JOHN F. KERRY (D-MA)
WITNESSES: DANIEL GLICKMAN, FORMER SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE; CATHERINE BERTINI, FORMER EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, WORLD FOOD PROGRAM; THE REVEREND DAVID BECKMANN, PRESIDENT, BREAD FOR THE WORLD; ROBERT PAARLBERG, PROFESSOR OF POLITICAL SCIENCE, WELLESLEY COLLEGE; EDWIN PRICE, ASSOCIATE VICE CHANCELLOR AND DIRECTOR, NORMAL BORLAUG INSTITUTE FOR INTERNATIONAL AGRICULTURE; GEBISA EJETA, PROFESSOR OF AGRONOMY, PURDUE UNIVERSITY
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SEN. KERRY: The hearing will come to order. Thank you all for your patience, and thank you for being here with us today. We have really interesting -- two panels today on a topic of enormous global importance, certainly one of the great physical diplomatic challenges of our time, but also one of the great moral challenges that the world faces today, and that is the crisis of the persistence of global hunger.
When you stop and think about it, measured against so many fortunate nations, it's really quite astounding that in 2009 there are over 850 million hungry people in the world. One in seven people on Earth goes hungry every day. When we talk about going hungry every day, we are talking about real pain and anguish and suffering that goes with that hunger.
It has been a goal of our country and of other countries to -- and of other individuals to try to alleviate this crisis and the suffering that it causes. While other threats force themselves into the front burner and command our attention, hunger and malnutrition remain the number one risk to health worldwide, a risk that will be exacerbated by two relatively new driving forces in today's world; one, the global financial crisis; and two, global climate change. We're already having a harder time feeding people, and the challenge is only growing more complicated.
The reality is that we have a long way to go to achieve the very first Millennium Development Goal, which is to cut in half by 2015 the proportion of people in the developing world who suffer from hunger. In Africa, things have actually gone backwards. One in three people are malnourished, and food security today is worse than it was in 1970. Conflict, poor governance, and HIV/AIDS have all reduced basic access to food. Now, drought, aggravated by climate change, makes the situation even more desperate.
This is important. We need to begin to deal with the growing impact that climate change will have on our struggle against hunger. A recent study in Science warns us that as much as half the world's population could face serious food shortages by the end of this century, a burden that will largely be borne by those who have done the least to bring about climate change. Last year's food riots were a worrisome sign of how a crisis in food security can quickly become a national security issue.
The global financial crisis also poses an urgent and an immediate threat. The World Bank estimates that as a result of this crisis an additional 65 people will fall below the $2 per day poverty line this year, and an additional 53 million will fall below the absolute poverty level of $1.25 per day. If food prices spike in the next months, we risk a double-edged calamity in which farmers in poor countries can't afford to plant, and buyers can't afford to purchase food. So we need to think about this issue now so that we can prevent the next crisis instead of simply trying to deal with its consequences.
One of the special challenges of a truly global crisis is that at the very moment when our assistance is most critical in the developing world, we're under the greatest strain to turn inward and cut our overseas aid budget. To ensure that we're doing our part to feed the world, we have to take a long view. We have to resist the urge to abdicate our responsibility as an economic and moral leader. Our foreign assistance budget directly impacts the number of people that we can help to feed.
Moreover, nothing will do more over the long run to address global hunger than fighting poverty. That's why we must demonstrate our commitment by fully funding the President's international affairs budget and initiating a foreign aid reform process, which I'm already in discussions with Senator Lugar and our counterparts in the House and the Administration about, and also, I've been having discussions with Senator Conrad and the budget folks with respect to the urgency of holding onto as much of the President's request as possible. I intend to look closely at introducing authorization legislation to ensure that we have a strong, effective aid program that can tackle the key challenges of our day.
It's a pleasure to be here with my friend and colleague, Senator Lugar, who has shown a great deal of leadership over time on this issue. He recently introduced, along with Senator Casey, a food security bill authorizing new resources to fund agricultural development and alleviate poverty. And I commend Senator Lugar, and I look forward to working with him on this important legislation, as well as with my colleague, Senator Casey.
Now, while we need to be ambitious, let's be clear. We can't tackle hunger alone. We have to engage a multilateral approach. We have to work in coordination with international institutions, including the World Food Program, international aid organizations, and the World Bank. And we just had a very good meeting with Bob Zoellick, the World Bank, and the committee just last week.
Today, we're very fortunate to be able to hear from two very knowledgeable panels of experts. Catherine Bertini served as executive director of the World Food Program from 1992 to 2002. In 2003, she was awarded the World Food Prize for the efforts to combat hunger. And she recently co-chaired a Chicago Council on Global Affairs report on Renewing American Leadership in the Fight Against Global Hunger and Poverty with Dan Glickman, who took part in that also, our former secretary of Agriculture from 1995 to 2001, and the congressman from the Kansas 4th Congressional District for 18 years before that.
Reverend David Beckman is president of Bread for the World, the leading Christian poverty and hunger reduction advocacy group. And Dr. Robert Paarlberg is a professor at Wellesley College and a world- renowned expert on agriculture, particularly in Africa.
On our second panel, we'll hear from two respected scientists on the subject of food security. Dr. Edwin Price, associate vice chancellor and director of the Norman Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture, which studies the economics of farming systems and advises officials in America and across the developing world on agricultural policy. And Dr. Gebisa Ejeta is professor of International Agriculture at Purdue University. A native of Ethiopian, Dr. Ejeta recently returned from a year in Nairobi assisting the Rockefeller and Gates Foundations with the launch of their new joint initiative, the Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa.
So we really have some outstanding testimony today, and I'm confident that the committee is going to benefit enormously from both of these panels and from the hearing this morning, and I hope as a country we will benefit by understanding why we need to uphold our end of this bargain and make the commitments that we need to make.
I make an apology up front that at 11:00 I have a meeting that I need to attend briefly, and I will leave the committee in the good hands of our ranking member, which only underscores the full bipartisanship of this endeavor. He's promised me he's not going to pass anything unruly -- (laughter) -- in the time I'm gone.
And so Senator Lugar, I turn the floor to you.
SEN. RICHARD LUGAR (R-IN): Well, thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I join you in welcoming our distinguished witnesses today. Each one of them has made unique contributions to alleviating hunger and promoting world development. I appreciate the leadership that Dan Glickman and Catherine Bertini have provided to the recent outstanding food security report by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.
As a former secretary of Agriculture and head of the World Food Program, the two have great authority on hunger issues.
And I'm pleased also that we're joined by David Beckmann, who has gained so much respect over many, many years as a consistent and creative advocate on hunger issues. Finally, the scholarship of Dr. Robert Paarlberg, a born and raised Hoosier -- as I pointed out as -- (inaudible) -- this morning -- has greatly advanced my own understanding of food security issues. His book, Starved for Science, is a must read for anyone attempting to understand the global food dilemma and how political factors are creating obstacles to the scientific advancements necessary to meet rising demand for food. Dr. Paarlberg also was a primary contributor to the Chicago Council's report.
I am also pleased that we have two distinguished scientists, as you pointed out, Mr. Chairman, on the second round of hearings. Dr. Edwin Price, director of the Norman Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture, has spent a long career working in the agricultural development field. And Dr. Gebisa Ejeta, a plant geneticist working with sorghum at Purdue University, will provide insights on the state of agriculture in his home country of Ethiopia and more broadly in Africa.
I would like to also point out, Mr. Chairman, that we invited the secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, to be part of the hearing today, and she was unable to come because of conflicting situations. But she writes in her letter of March 18th, 2009, "Combating hunger is a top priority for this Administration and for me personally. And I want to express my sincere appreciation for the leadership you've shown on this important issue. In his inaugural address, President Obama stated to the people of poor nations that we would work alongside them to make their farms flourish and to nourish starved bodies."
"In addition, during my confirmation testimony I called for a move away from reacting to food crisis in an ad hoc fashion toward making food security a priority in our development programs. The Administration's fiscal year 2010 budget request recognizes the need to continue and expand our efforts on food security. We will also work to ensure that our partners follow through on commitments they made on food security at the 2008 G8 summit." And I appreciate very much Secretary Clinton's comments, which are very appropriate for our hearing today.
We live in a world, as you pointed out, Mr. Chairman, where either 800 million or 1 billion people, depending upon estimates, suffer from chronic food insecurity with an estimated 25,000 people dying each day from malnutrition-related causes. And health experts advise us that chronic hunger has major health consequences, including decreased child survival, impaired cognitive and physical development of children, and weaker immune system function, including resistance to HIV/AIDS.
These severe humanitarian consequences of hunger are sufficient cause for us to strengthen our approach to global food security. But we have an even bigger problem. A dangerous confluence of factors threatens to severely limit food production in some regions as the world's population continues to expand. Between 1970 and 1990, global aggregate farm yield rose by an average of 2 percent per year, but since 1990, aggregate farm yield has risen by an annual average of just 1.1 percent. The USDA projects that growth in global farm yields will continue to fall. These trends threaten the fundamental welfare of a large share of the world's population.
Here are the basic parameters of the problem: First, the world's population is projected to increase to about 9.2 billion people by 2050. Growing affluence in China, India, and elsewhere is increasing demand for resource-intensive meat and dairy products. It is estimated the world's farmers will have to double their output by 2050.
Second, food security is closely tied to volatile energy costs. Farming is an energy intensive business. Crops have to be transported efficiently to market, and petroleum-based fertilizers and pesticides are widely used. Energy price spikes in the future are likely to hit with even greater ferocity than the spike in 2007 and 2008.
Third, water scarcity will worsen in response to population growth, urbanization, and land use pressures, and the effects of climate change. According to a recent report by the Royal Institute of International Affairs, a half billion people currently live in countries with chronic water shortages, a figure that is expected to rise to four billion by 2050.
Fourth, climate change is challenging farmers on every continent to deal with altered weather patterns, novel agricultural pests, and new water conditions.
Despite these alarming trends, investments in agriculture have tumbled in recent decades. By 2007, rich countries devoted a mere four percent of their foreign assistance to agriculture. In Africa, which has the most severe food problems, donor aid to the farm sector plunged from $4.1 billion in 1989 to just $1.9 billion in 2006. Africa's per capita production of corn, its most important staple crop, has dropped by 14 percent since 1980.
Equally troubling are sharp cutbacks in research into new technologies, farming techniques, and seed varieties that could increase yields, cope with changing climate change conditions, and battle new pests and diseases, and make food more nutritious.
In recent years, development investment dollars have flowed to urban areas because cities were seen as the drivers of growth. Likewise, some recipient governments have favored infrastructure projects and urban-focused development assistance for political reasons. In those nations afflicted by corruption, agriculture assistance also may offer less of an opportunity for diversion of funds than an expensive infrastructure project.
Trade policy of both developed and developing countries has too often focused on protecting domestic farmers, rather than creating well-functioning global markets. In addition, many governments, especially in Europe and Africa, have rejected biotechnology advancements that are necessary to meet future demand for food. Opposition to safe genetic modification technology contributes to hunger in Africa in the short run and virtually ensures that much of the continent will lack the tools to adapt agriculture to changing climate conditions in the long run.
Now, without action, we may experience frequent food riots and perhaps warfare over food resources. We almost certainly will have to contend with mass migration and intensifying health issues stemming from malnutrition. Our diplomatic efforts to maintain peace will be far more difficult wherever food shortages contribute to extremism and conflict. Our hopes for economic development in poor countries will continue to be frustrated if populations are unable to feed themselves. In short, overcoming hunger should be one of the starting points for United States foreign policy.
With these factors in mind, Senator Robert Casey and I introduced the Global Food Security Act of 2009. This bill is not meant to be a comprehensive solution to the problem, which is beyond the scope of a single bill. But we are hopeful that it will serve as a practical starting point for improving United States and global efforts in this area and as a rallying point for those who agree that food security should play a much larger role in our national security strategy.
The bill would make long-range agricultural productivity and rural development a top development priority. It establishes a special coordinator for food security within the Executive Office of the President and charges the coordinator with developing a whole-of- government food security strategy. Among other goals, the bill attempts to improve research capacity at foreign universities and the dissemination of technology through extension services. The bill also improves the United States emergency response to food crises by creating a separate Emergency Food Assistance Fund that can make local and regional purchases of food where appropriate.
As a farmer who has seen agricultural yields more than triple during my lifetime on my family's farm in Marion County, Indiana, I have faith that human ingenuity can avert a Malthusian disaster. But we have to have time for innovations to take root, and we have to apply all the agricultural tools at our disposal. The current global effort on food security risk falling -- the current effort on food security risks falling far short of what is needed to guarantee food security.
I believe the food security challenge is an opportunity for the United States. We are the indisputable leader in agricultural technology. A more focused effort on our part to join with other nations to increase yields, create economic opportunities for the rural poor, and broaden agricultural knowledge could strengthen relationships around the world and open up a new era of United States diplomacy.
I thank the chairman for holding this hearing. I thank Senator Casey for working with me on the bill, and we look forward to the discussion of the legislation with our witnesses.
I thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. KERRY: Thank you very much, Senator Lugar. If we could ask --
SEN. ROBERT CASEY (D-PA): Mr. Chairman?
SEN. KERRY: Yes, Senator Casey.
SEN. CASEY: Just ask consent that my statement be made part of the record.
SEN. KERRY: Absolutely. And we appreciate, again, as I said, your efforts on this. And if we could start, Director Bertini, with your testimony, then Mr. Glickman, Mr. Beckmann, Mr. Paarlberg in that order.
And I'd ask each of you, just so we can maximize the give and take here -- if you'd summarize your comments in about five minutes. Your full testimony will be placed in the record as if read in full.
MS. BERTINI: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, Mr. Chairman, Senator --
SEN. KERRY: Yeah.
MS. BERTINI: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Senator Lugar, members of the committee. Thank you for inviting us, but more importantly, thank you for having this hearing and for taking seriously the issues that the chairman and Senator Lugar have just raised, because it has been for too long that the U.S. government has not put agriculture development and especially support for small holder farmers in developing countries high on the agenda for our foreign policy.
And the fact that you are having this discussion, are debating this important legislation that Senator Lugar and Senator Casey have put forward and have invited us to participate means that that has changed, and we thank you and commend you for that.
Dan Glickman and I have had the opportunity, as has been stated by the senators, to co-chair the Chicago Council on Global Affairs Initiative on Global Agricultural Development. We have met with and worked with a group of individuals who have been our colleagues in the U.S. government and in U.N. organizations in the past and have put forward suggestions which are summarized in our joint testimony for your consideration here today and for the consideration of the Obama administration.
We have underlined some of the issues that both senators have discussed this morning and how important it is that we address the needs of the almost one billion people who are desperately hungry and note the fact that about two thirds of those people live in sub- Saharan Africa and South Asia. We also note the fact that the vast majority of those families are families that are headed by women, and the vast majority of the farmers are women. And the needs of women as farmers -- 80 percent of the farmers in sub-Saharan Africa and 60 percent in South Asia -- need to be addressed in this context as well.
Most of these hungry poor live in rural areas. Most have no access to roads and to transportation. And most live in areas that are challenged with not enough water, with inadequate rainfall, and barely enough, if any, irrigation. These numbers can increase dramatically if we are not helpful in terms of helping people be able to help themselves and grow their own agriculture production.
But we think there is incredible opportunity for the U.S. and international organizations to work in this area, and we think what's critically important is U.S. leadership, leadership from you, from the Senate, from the House, and from the Obama administration, leadership where the U.S. can say this is important to us, but as both senators have said, where we work together with other countries in other international organizations.
We note that we have led our food foreign policy with food aid, and having run the World Food Program, I know how important that is, that we help people stay alive with food. We can't diminish that. We can improve it, but what we should lead our policy with is how can we help people become self-sufficient in agriculture? How can we help women and men improve their livelihoods by improving their own agriculture production?
Years ago we were leaders in this area, in the Green Revolution, and in many other programs through our land grant universities, in research, and in other ways. But we have fallen back very dramatically. We have fallen back on scholarships where we used to fund hundreds of scholarships, and now we fund only about 42. We used to train over 15,000 students in agriculture in the developing world. Now we train about 1,000 students. We used to have many specialists in our USAID that would help work on these programs, and now we have about 22. And we spend about 20 times as much on food aid on sub- Saharan Africa as we spend on helping farmers be able to help themselves.
If we are to be leaders in this area, then we can see many benefits for the United States. We can see national security benefits because we see that hunger and poverty have become political flashpoints, that many countries have had food riots, and that those have helped unseat at least two governments in this world in the last year.
We see that there are commercial benefits, commercial benefits to help with our own agriculture if we are able to help improve the economic development and wellbeing of countries in Africa and South Asia and elsewhere, because, after all, long-term the markets for our own farmers are in the developing world far beyond the markets that are available in -- from developed countries.
We see institutional benefits, that we can improve our own operation of our own aid programs, and we can coordinate much better with providing leadership to the U.N. organizations and working with foundations such as the Gates Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation.
We see this as a wonderful way to restore American standing and leadership in the world through showing the world how important these issues are. And finally, of course, we see this as a moral responsibility for Americans to help our sisters and brothers from around the world who are hungry, and by providing leadership in agriculture development, we can see that that is done.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. KERRY: Thank you very much, Ms. Bertini.
MR. GLICKMAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Senator Lugar. It's an honor to appear before both of you today. And Senator Shaheen, it's -- who succeeded me at the Institute of Politics, and I understand did a much better job than I did, but I'm delighted that she is here.
SEN. KERRY: Are you planning to run for the Senate -- (inaudible)?
MR. GLICKMAN: No, no. (Laughter.) Anyway, thank you all. And I want to echo the comments of Catherine Bertini, and I think the heart of this is -- we prepared this book, and which you all have a copy of. This is a strategic plan, actually, on how to change America's leadership in the world as it relates to global hunger and poverty. I think you all should have this. If you don't, we'll get you all copies of this. We had a distinguished group of leaders from Tom Pickering to Peter McPherson, to Per Pinstrup-Andersen, Rich Williamson. A whole bunch of people helped us put together this, bipartisan folks that -- basically, the idea was to put agriculture development at the center of U.S. foreign assistance policy, because we believe it's perhaps the most important way to alleviate hunger and poverty in the world.
Catherine talked about a lot of the statistics here. But I do believe that by acting decisively and in our own national interests our country can play a central role in saving millions, if not tens of millions of lives in the poorest nations of the world, as we did during the Green Revolution.
I can't help but resist bringing a movie analogy in for a moment. In the movie Schindler's list you may recall at the end Schindler said he didn't do enough, to which the -- one of his captives said in the words of the Talmud, if you save one life, you save the entire world. And I think what we're talking about here is by saving more than one life, we can save the entire world many times over because there is a prescription to make people self-reliant so that they can become productive citizens and get themselves out of poverty and out of malnutrition, and that's the important thesis of this particular report.
The most critical requirement for a renewed U.S. effort in the fight against global poverty is leadership, and in particular, the interest and commitment of the president of the United States, the White House, the infrastructure of our federal government, and especially of the United States Congress. Without executive and legislative leadership, these issues tend to kind of drift. And I think it's one of the reasons Senator Kerry talked about looking back at our foreign assistance programs again from a more comprehensive level.
This is a major effort. It will cost, however modestly -- our indications are a first year cost of $340 million, increasing to about $1 billion annually when the proposal reaches full funding. The key recommendations are increasing support for agricultural extension and education in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, increasing support for agricultural research in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, as Senator Lugar talked about. The problems of climate, drought, pest resistance -- all will increase in this changing world, and we desperately need the kind of research that was done during the Green Revolution that changed the lives of a whole continent.
In addition to that, we have to look at the way the U.S. development assistance and agriculture development policy is implemented, including improving interagency coordination for America's agricultural development assistance efforts. And to coordinate this, we need somebody in the White House, we believe, that's kind of in charge of this overall, to keep pushing, and we propose an Interagency Council on Global Agriculture led by a National Security Council deputy charged with the responsibility of managing this whole affair.
We also believe that AID needs a significantly strengthened role in our government, needs to have independent budget authority, and needs to be tasked with, in fact, taking the lead to getting the job done that we're talking here. We talk in our report about the congressional capacity to partner in managing agricultural assistance policy, and I think it is fairly self-evident.
We cannot on our own solve the problems of global poverty, but our actions can serve as a catalyst for public/private partnerships that will engage the relevant stakeholders and ensure that action is effective. So we draw on resources and expertise of the U.S., of non- governmental institutions, of NGOs, universities, private companies, and we build with partnerships in folks located in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia as well.
This is an opportunity to reintroduce America as a leader in the world and a force for positive change, and it's something that people will relish, I believe, all over the world as they try to rebuild their local systems of government and their economies. And the recommendations discussed will have a significant and lasting impact on our international partners as well.
So saying that, Mr. Chairman, I'm delighted to have been apart of this effort. I'm especially delighted to have worked with Catherine as she led the effort to feed millions of people over the years. And with the research arms of our government, particularly at USDA and other places as well, we have the capability of really having a remarkable and lasting impact on the lives of tens, if not hundreds of millions of people.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. KERRY: Thank you very much. Thank you very much, Mr. Glickman.
REV. BECKMANN: Mr. Chairman, Senator Lugar, members of the committee, thank you for this hearing and for inviting me. I want to start out by telling you about a trip I took to Mozambique and Malawi in December. In Mozambique we got to go to a really remote area. We were about 100 miles from the nearest road, and our first stop was this little settlement of 40 households called Ntimbe on the lakeshore. It's just 40 mud houses, each one with its little cassava field.
The importance of agriculture to the poorest people in the world was just obvious in this little place, because if that cassava field flourishes, the family does fine. If that cassava field doesn't do well, they go hungry for a long time. I was heartened that even in Ntimbe I could see the impact of U.S. foreign assistance. So almost all the kids are in school in Ntimbe. That's from debt relief. And people in Ntimbe are living with HIV and AIDS. So they're taking care of their kids. They're farming because they have anti-retrovirals.
Also in these two countries I could see that our foreign assistance could be more effective. In both countries we're not doing enough in agriculture. Our aid programs are heavily earmarked, so we're not very responsive to local needs more generally. And in Mozambique AID, the MCA, and PEPFAR are all operating independently, and it was pretty clear to me that staff don't necessarily know what each other's doing.
I'm really thrilled that President Obama and Secretary Clinton are putting the emphasis on global poverty and specifically hunger that they are, and I'm really grateful to Senator Lugar and Senator Casey for introducing the Global Food Security Act. It would revivify U.S. support for agriculture. It would make our food aid more efficient and more effective. And it's right to call for a global food security strategy.
There are two recent reports that are suggestive of what could be in an official food security strategy; the Chicago Council Report, which I heartily endorse. There's also a report called The Roadmap to U.S. Leadership in Ending Hunger, which was put together by 30 NGOs, including many of the groups that administer U.S. food aid. I think the two most important conclusions are that U.S. funding for agriculture ought to grow to be equivalent to our funding for food aid, and that over time half of our food aid ought to be locally procured rather than shipped from this country.
Bread for the World's main campaign this year is a push for broad reform of foreign assistance. What we'd like is that you pull several agencies together into one strong accountable agency, focus it on development and poverty reduction, and make it more responsive to local needs. One result of that is that we'd be doing more funding for agriculture, and another result is that there would be better coordination across the government on hunger and other issues on an ongoing basis.
I really was -- I was delighted this morning, Mr. Chairman, that you talked about what you're doing to initiate work on foreign aid reform, and you mentioned the possibility of authorizing legislation. I do think it's important that you make it clear to the administration and the House that this committee is ready to work with them on broad reform of foreign assistance.
There's a really broad array of organizations who are working together to encourage broad reform of foreign assistance now. It includes a number of organizations that have national constituencies, so Bread for the World, Oxfam, the One campaign, Interaction. But right now if somebody outside the beltway wants to weigh in on this issue, they don't really have a very effective way to get their senator to show -- (clears throat) -- excuse me, to show support for the committee's work on foreign assistance reform. So maybe the authorizing legislation that you're talking about -- that could be something that any senator could co-sponsor so that people around the country can build support for this work.
World hunger -- we've made progress over the last several decades against poverty, hunger, disease, remarkable progress, but we've suffered a tremendous setback here over the last couple years because of high grain prices and now the recession. We need to provide additional assistance, as the chairman has said, and at a time like this we also need to make sure that our foreign aid is just as effective as possible and that more of the aid is going to people who really need help.
So I hope you'll pass the Global Food Security Act and that you will also move forward on broad reform of foreign assistance.
SEN. KERRY: Thank you, reverend.
MR. PAARLBERG: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you, Senator Lugar, and thank you to the other members of the committee. As someone who currently lives in Massachusetts and grew up in Indiana, I feel like I'm in good hands here -- (laughter) -- in this committee.
The issue before the committee is America's leadership in alleviating global hunger, and in my written testimony I explained that America's performance here has been inconsistent. In responding to short-term crises, we generally do very well. For example, in response to the 2008 international food price spike, the United States committed an additional $1.4 billion worth of food aid, and unlike other countries, the United States never placed any restrictions on its own food exports. So the United States played a generous and a stabilizing role in response to that crisis. I grade it at least a B+.
But the larger and the longer-term challenge is to address persistent malnutrition that afflicts nearly one billion people in the developing world. These people are weakened by hunger even when international prices are low. And here, the United States has not done well at all. The United States' response in this area earns something closer to an F in recent years.
It's sometimes not well understood that the hungriest people in the world actually work as farmers, more than 200 million in Africa, roughly 400 million in South Asia. And these farmers are poor and hence, hungry because they don't have access to any of the things that farmers elsewhere have used to become more productive and to escape poverty.
Consider farmers in Africa. They have little formal education, most are women, and two out of three cannot read or write in any language. They don't have access to modern seeds or to fertilizers, so their crop yields per hectare are only one fifth as high as in the United States. Only 4 percent have access to irrigation, so if the rains fail, their crops fail. They don't have access to any electricity or any powered machinery of any kind, or any veterinary medicine for their weak and sick and stunted animals. And finally, 70 percent of these farmers live more than a 30-minute walk from the nearest paved road. So they're effectively cut off from commercial markets.
And because of these deficits, agricultural production in Africa has lagged behind population growth for most of the last three decades. As Senator Lugar mentioned, per capita production of maize has actually dropped by 14 percent since 1980. Average income of these farmers is less than $1 a day, and one-third are chronically malnourished.
But to make things worse, over the last 25 years, the United States government has essentially walked away from this problem. Since the 1980s, the United States government has cut its official development assistance to agriculture in Africa by roughly 85 percent. The staff at USAID that handle agriculture has been cut by nearly 90 percent.
So as things have been getting steadily worse in Africa, the United States government has curiously been doing steadily less.
These cuts in the U.S. effort resulted from an unfortunate combination of three factors. First, too much complacent optimism after the success of the original Green Revolution on the irrigated lands of Asia; second, too much faith that private sector investments could solve the problem under the Washington consensus doctrine that took over the World Bank and USAID in the 1980s. This doctrine failed badly in rural Africa because there, the fundamental public goods that are needed to support markets and attract investment -- things like rural roads, agricultural research, schools, rural power -- these things had not yet been provided by government. So the private sector stayed away.
And third factor that has cut U.S. support for agriculture development is, frankly, too much hostility to the use of fertilizer and improved seeds by some activist groups who claim to work on behalf of social justice and environmental protection. A surprising number of activist groups today think it would be a mistake to introduce the use of nitrogen fertilizers or improved seeds into agriculture in Africa. They've come to believe it would be better for Africans to reduce their nitrogen fertilizer use to zero and to form -- and to farm organically.
Now, the fact is most small farmers in Africa today are already de facto organic. They don't use any nitrogen fertilizers. They don't use any synthetic pesticides. They don't use any genetically modified seeds. And this has not made them productive and prosperous.
So it's time to get beyond these rigid ideologies and find a more pragmatic way forward. And fortunately, agricultural specialists have reached a consensus on what's needed in regions such as Africa, the consensus that's contained both in the 2009 Global Security Act and in the report from the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.
I think the danger isn't that Congress will debate this strategy and then reject it as too costly, because it isn't too costly relative to the anticipated humanitarian economic and diplomatic gains. The danger instead is that a serious debate will never take place amid the many distractions of the day, and action will simply be deferred. And this would be a costly error because if action is deferred under a business as usual scenario, the numbers of chronically malnourished people in Africa in particular will increase by another 30 percent over the next 10 years, making the problem that much more difficult to resolve if and when we eventually decide to confront it.
Thank you very much.
SEN. KERRY: Thank you very much, Mr. Paarlberg. I want to thank all of you for keeping your testimonies tight and to the time. It helps us a lot to be able to get engaged in a good dialogue, and we appreciate it.
Mr. Paarlberg, I want to pick up a little bit on that, but before I do, I mean, I want to come back to some of these farming practices and assertions you made. But let me ask you now, each of you perhaps, and you can decide who wants to take a stab at this first. If you're a farmer out in Kansas or Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, somewhere, and you're listening to us talk here about helping the farmers in Africa to be able to compete essentially -- and to some degree, part of the reason Doha has been in a gridlock in these last years is European and other subsidized farming entities' resistance to change. It's been a long argument by a lot of people for some period of time that, you know, you need to empower less developed country farmers to be able to sell their goods so they can develop.
How do you make that argument? Make it now as to why this is so important to us and why it is worth this fight.
MR. GLICKMAN: It's funny because one of the things that's in the statute we talk about in our report is something that's referred to as the Bumpers Amendment, which -- unfortunately, a very good man has had his name tied to an amendment which I think is not very productive. It says that we cannot provide scientific and technical assistance to countries and to programs in other countries that might result in crops competitive to the United States. That was basically done back in the '80s as a result of narcotics trying to transfer people from let's say cocaine to soy beans and other kinds of things.
I would make the following comments. Number one is, is that I think that the Chicago Council did some polling data which indicates that people in this country are, in fact, supportive of these efforts, rural and urban people. Second of all, we're all in this together. The problems afflicting agriculture, whether you're in the lush farmlands of Indiana or Kansas, or whether you're in the dry lands of the Sahel or South Asia -- we're all going to face a lot of the similar problems as it relates to drought, to climate change, and so we're no longer separate parties to these things.
Third is by improving the lifestyle of people around the world, they're going to buy more things. They may buy them locally, they may buy them from us. But a rising tide lifts all boats in the world, including agriculture generally. And I think that the time for this kind of parochial attitude that we've had for so many years is no longer relevant in the world that we live in today. And I think people understand that too.
SEN. KERRY: Well, is it not more practical to make the argument if these are the people who are malnutrited and they're indigenous in their own country -- that to be talking about opening up to the marketplace and selling elsewhere is premature. I mean, don't they first have to, you know, grow for themselves?
MR. GLICKMAN: Well, there is some capability for export even in some of the markets we're talking about today, but the idea is to create indigenous agriculture production and to help people help themselves. And we can do a lot better job of that in the process. We can change their lives internally. And it will help the United States and the democracies of the world deal with the political problems that result from extreme poverty and malnutrition that never seem to get better.
SEN. KERRY: Yes. Dr. Bertini.
MS. BERTINI: Mr. Chairman, I would add that if we were talking to farmers in the Midwest who are very productive and who do a lot of exporting themselves that when they think about what markets might be available when their daughters are sons are taking over for them in their own farms -- that they have to look at opportunities in the developing world to be able to sell their goods in the future. They won't be able to sell more in Europe or in Japan or in markets that are mature. But the places where there are more people and more possibilities for economic improvement are in the developing world, and that it's therefore in their commercial interests over --
SEN. KERRY: Is that only for a crop -- specific -- that can't be grown in one of those other countries?
MS. BERTINI: Not necessarily.
SEN. KERRY: How are you going to compete with our cost of energy and production, transit to that other country, versus an indigenous production of the same crop?
MS. BERTINI: Well, every -- depending on the climate, depending on the soil, there's a lot of different things depending on what might work in any given region of the world. So it's not necessarily competing on one side or the other. It's really markets. And we're talking about the opportunity for more -- especially more indigenous growth -- to be able to improve the economic livelihood so that people can buy more grain or can buy more manufactured goods.
SEN. KERRY: More than they're able to produce themselves.
MS. BERTINI: Yes, and more than they can do now.
SEN. KERRY: Anybody else want to add to that?
REV. BECKMANN: I do. Bread for the World instituted -- commissioned a study by the International Food Policy Research Institute on this issue, and if the low income countries of Africa and South Asia could achieve gross comparable to, say, the, you know, gross of East Asia, that would be very good for U.S. agriculture. Any negative effect of competition is outweighed by the expansion of incomes, because poor people in the world are spending two thirds of everything they have on food. So when their income goes up, they buy more food, including a little bit more food imports.
So, in fact, U.S. agriculture has a clear stake in global development. Where it gets a little sticker is when -- on the broader issues of reform of U.S. agriculture and trade policies. But, in fact, our -- as, you know, our farm policies don't -- are not optimal for farm and rural people in America. So it is very possible, especially in the context of, say, finishing the Doha Round, to have a reform of global agriculture that would be better for virtually all U.S. farmers, certainly for farm and rural people who are really struggling, and also wildly better for farmers in poor countries.
SEN. KERRY: Mr. Paarlberg, let me take you up on this issue. Obviously, it's been a very heated debate for a number of years about GMO and agricultural practices. I learned a lot about this in '04 when I was running around the country. I learned a lot about farming.
I didn't know -- even though we have a lot of farms in Massachusetts actually. We have a big, big contingent farms still. We used to have a lot more dairy than we have today.
But one of the things I learned was the degree to which Iowa soil is piled. And you go down below whatever that six-foot, five-foot level is, and you run tile. The current nitrate runoff into the Des Moines and the Iowa River and ultimately the Missouri and into the Mississippi and down into the Gulf of Mexico creates an enormous 5,000 square mile dead zone every year, not to mention, you know, what it does in terms of quality of drinking and so forth. This is true all over our country. Our non-source point -- point source runoff is a huge problem.
Increasingly, there is an appetite in America for organic food, for non-processed, for good, healthy, basic food. And it seems to me that that's not something that we ought to dismiss casually. Many, many people are learning a lot more about health through good nutrition, through eating more effectively better. And there's a big movement in this country. A lot of stores growing up now, a lot of supermarkets that are making it a practice only to sell organic. And more and more people as they learn more and more are turning towards that.
You seem to sort of push that aside, and I wonder if that's wise for us in this battle not to sort of honor and respect that movement more effectively, and perhaps, you know, fashion policies accordingly.
MR. PAARLBERG: In order to be certified as an organic grower, you have to reduce your use of nitrogen fertilizer to zero. In Africa today average applications of nitrogen fertilizer are about nine kilograms per hectare. The African agricultural development effort that's been lead under NiPAD has set as a target for Africa increasing from nine kilograms up to about 50 kilograms per hectare, which I think is a suitable goal. In the United States where we apply more than 100 kilograms more hectare, you do get nitrogen runoff and a dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico.
I think, though, you have to sophisticated enough to set a target at 50 and stay below 100 rather than reacting to the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico by telling farmers in Africa they have to go to zero, because too many farmers in Africa are at zero today, and their crop yields are only one fifth or one tenth as high as in the United States.
SEN. KERRY: So it's really the balance that you're talking about --
MR. PAARLBERG: Absolutely, absolutely.
SEN. KERRY: -- more than anything else, a fair balance in a sense.
SEN. LUGAR: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Let me just reiterate some of the points that I think are important about the bill that we're discussing today. And many of you have commented on these, but I'd like, you know, further comment from your experience.
First of all, a White House food coordinator, sometimes known as the food czars -- but somebody literally with the authority to speak for the president of the United States and to somehow bring together USAID, the Department of Agriculture, anybody else involved in food aid, production, anything -- we've gone this route in large part because reorganizing each of these departments, reforming each one of these, is really an arduous task, and from your personal experience you appreciate that.
But without having that kind of reorganization, somebody who is in charge really is required if we're to make this kind of difference you have discussed, namely -- and maybe a goal that half of the food is produced in-country, and maybe half of it's bought there too likewise, which gets into all kinds of problems with our transportation industries, with people who say the money ought to be spent here in the United States buying U.S. food on U.S. ships going to wherever it is. Obviously, a tremendous inhibition of whatever resources we have.
So this is quite a charge. This coordinator will not have an easy life. But I would say that without this, we're -- somebody whistling in the dark in a way. We're sort of hoping for good things and good vibes to happen to people. And following that, as you've mentioned -- this idea that the food might be purchased in-country is a tremendously important thought, quite apart from the transportation dilemma. I think it has to occur sort of along with reforms and may come with a Doha Round or a successor.
Again and again, as we've discussed today, the plight of the American farmer is not so much that someone in Africa might begin to grow corn more efficiently, but it's the fact that we are blocked from exporting the corn that we have by all kinds of trade restrictions, embargos, blockages, tariffs. The bollixed up world trade system with regard to agriculture makes a prodigious problem out of this, even if we have the food czar and we manage to get our act together in this country.
And finally, I appreciate your response, Dr. Paarlberg, to the chairman's question about genetically modified -- I think the idea of a balanced, thoughtful, scientific approach to this is important, but I would just say that this is virtually impossible to get to the yields we're talking about without taking seriously seed, fertilizer, the type of thing that might come from extension services, from education and what have you.
And I've argued this during this past August over in Brussels with a good number of people. The E.U. ambassador has come to my office now a couple of times to indicate sort of one-by-one various fertilizers, seeds might be possible in Europe. But I also parliamentarians in Europe who are rock solid against any change. The Africans can starve as far as they're concerned. The purity of the situation is so paramount and their focus. And furthermore, they don't plan to export very much, and they're feeding their people as it is and not that worried about it.
Now, given all of that, first of all, Secretary Glickman, how do we get to the food czar? What is likely to be the prospects of that occurring?
MR. GLICKMAN: Well, you do need an overall leader in the White House. It's got to be somebody with close ties to the President who has access into the Oval Office. If you don't have that, you could have czar spelled 1,000 different ways and it wouldn't make any difference at all.
SEN. LUGAR: Everybody's very remote right now from the White House I'm afraid, who's involved in the food business.
MR. GLICKMAN: Yeah, so my -- I mean, what we did in our report is we recommended that the National Security Council be the place that this person would be housed largely because this is a national security issue, and finding one person in there who could take this responsibility -- there may be other ways to skin this cat, but it's got to be somebody close to the president who has his or her -- has the president's confidence that can take the leadership role and coordinate the government together.
Second of all, relating to this, you have to have an implementing agency that's got teeth and muscle, and that's AID. And right now it has no teeth and no muscle and not much else I would have to tell you. It's been denuded, and that -- and -- but I don't say get rid of it. I say strengthen it. Give it the kind of authority that it needs to carry out its tasks to do the kinds of things that we're talking about here.
And this needs to be within the ambit, however, of a White House, I believe, that is exerting proper management over the whole thing and proper coordination. And if I just make a point to both you and Senator Kerry on the organic issue -- I was in the USDA when we implemented the Organic Standards Act. It's a very positive thing for American agriculture. But it is not inconsistent with good science to increase yields and deal with crop protection and drought resistance that can't be done without using some of these new technologies. And it also can be done not only compatibly, but extremely successfully with environmental protection at the same time.
So I agree with the point that there is a balance here, but it's not inconsistent.
SEN. LUGAR: Ms. Bertini, do you have a comment?
MS. BERTINI: Yes, Senator. To highlight what Dan said about USAID, it's critical that we have a strong tool, in this case agency, for carrying out whatever our policies -- and that certainly was the agreement of our group, that we do -- we believe that should be AID. We do not believe that they're in that place right now and -- and we -- we think that a lot of attention needs to be drawn there. But I want to take further your -- your thought, Senator, about the coordination. Yes, there has to be coordination led from the White House and direction from the white House.
But the coordination has to go beyond, and I know you mean it, to go beyond what we do in Washington but into what we do in each country where we operate, and Reverend Beckmann mentioned something about this before. But think about it from the perspective of the farmer or the NGO or the government in Africa who has to say, now, do I go to talk to the AID administrator or is it the PEPFAR person or do I go talk to NCC or maybe I should find the ag attache. I mean, what do they do? And we do not have a coordinated effort which we really must have in each country in which we operate.
That's critically important.
On your point about food purchase, we -- we also had a strong consensus that there should be more ability for the U.S. government, significant more ability for the U.S. government, to allow food purchasing in developing countries as a wonderful measure to be able to support local agriculture and also to cut down on a lot of the costs to get food to -- to arrive faster, to have food that people are used to in the region, and sometimes to cut dramatically down on the transportation costs if one is only dealing with local transport costs. At this -- and -- and -- and for a long time this has been proposed but never -- never approved by Congress to do it more than in a demonstration way.
So we believe that that's very important. However, we have to underline the fact that although most countries have gone almost exclusively to food purchase we don't think we should eliminate aid -- food aid -- in kind altogether because there's an important role for that, especially in emergencies when there are no other options and that that in kind food aid is critical in many, many cases.
SEN. LUGAR: Thank you. My time is --
SEN. KERRY: Thanks, Senator Lugar. Appreciate it. Senator Casey?
SEN. CASEY: Mr. Chairman, thank you for calling the hearing and I appreciate the leadership you've provided and Senator Lugar's working with us on this bill. I wanted to explore some immediate issues, some of which each of you have addressed in your testimony. I guess there's some sense now that as bad as last year was, as bad as the crisis has been, that it could be even worse in the immediate future, and the numbers are just -- I can't even begin to -- to comprehend the numbers. I don't think anyone can.
Looking at the data, some 75 million more people and we're -- we may be at a point where it could get a lot worse that that. So the urgency of this I think is profound, almost indescribable, and when people come to a hearing like this or when they -- they follow this issue they arrive at a -- at a -- at a conclusion as to what they should do probably based upon a couple of different or probably a couple of different pathways to get there. One is I think the people at this are witnesses along as well as others in the audience are -- are here for a lot of reasons.
Most of us here are summoned by our conscience. That's one reason we're here. Others who may not be as troubled by the issue may arrive at a conclusion about this issue just based upon national security because it does have national or international security implications. When someone is hungry they're more likely to be influenced by -- by people who say, I can help you if you join my cause and that cause may be violent and destructive against all of our -- all of our interests and -- and our safety.
But I wanted to get a sense -- obviously we -- we believe this bill should pass very quickly. That's an immediate step. But I guess I wanted to have each of you briefly -- I know we have limited time -- to address what's -- what's the immediate challenge we have in terms of the urgency of it and what are the immediate steps we have to take to meet that? Because I believe it's -- it's that urgent and there will be some who will say, you know, we're -- we're in a recession here in the United States -- what do we need to be doing more around the world, and I think it's a very compelling case but maybe just outline for us quickly -- maybe just go from -- from right to left.
MR. GLICKMAN: I think you raise excellent points. Again, this booklet is kind of a roadmap --
SEN. CASEY: Right.
MR. GLICKMAN: -- strategic plan to get from here to there. So it has a variety of short- and long-term steps and if you look at it it'll say what to do the first year, second year, third year, fourth year, and your bill is fully consistent with everything that we're talking about here. In fact, it can't be implemented unless we pass legislation like the kind that you're talking about. So I would -- I would just -- I would -- you know, there are a multitude of things that have to be done from -- from the national government being committed to doing what it needs to do, the amount spent here first year about $300 million or so, last year a billion dollars a year.
I mean, in the big scheme of what we're talking about in terms of internal institutions in this country it is a drop in the bucket and this one might actually save some lives in the process as well. So, you know, I -- I can't give you a priority setting other than to say that it -- it's got to be on the top of our list of priorities. I'd say one other thing too.
You know, when I was at USDA I often found that in our national government in the scheme of things agriculture often took a back seat to policy makers. I -- I don't know if Senator Lugar can nod at that. There are other sexier issues that often come up but, you know, you go back to the point that, you know, a person's nutrition capability is at the heart of our very existence and I think what your -- your bill does is to reiterate to the world that -- that food and agriculture production as a part of our global assistance is a priority. It is not a secondary factor, and I think too often in today's world farmers and agriculture just do not get the attention that they deserve in terms of leading the world.
SEN. CASEY: Dan, I just want to follow up briefly. I want to thank you for what you've said and also for your testimony, and I missed it. I was running back and forth between meetings. But the point that you made about someone in the White House who can get into the Oval Office is essential. Anyone who understands anything about government even at much lower levels knows that that kind of personal and immediate access is going to be, I believe, critically important. Thank you. Ms. Bertini?
MS. BERTINI: Thank you, Senator. Two things. One, in terms of the American public the -- one of the expertise of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs is to actually conduct surveys about what Americans think about foreign relations and foreign affairs, and in our book we've got a lot of the data from a recent survey that might -- you might find useful. But one of the things that I found particularly important was that 42 percent of the American people believe it's very important to combat global hunger and believe it should be a foreign policy priority.
That's a pretty significant percentage. So I think even given what we are living through in this country there may be some reasonably strong support for a renewed interest in -- in agriculture development and people understand basically the concept of helping people to be able to help themselves in a way that sometimes resonates in a stronger manner. Second is that during my tenure as -- as executive director of the World Food Program, to your point about why now, I found that -- that when the U.S. took a position, especially a new position or a different position or a considerably stronger position that they had in the past about aid-related issues, that it -- there was a snowball effect of many other donors then doing something similar.
Now, in some areas like this issue about purchasing food instead of in kind the U.S. has been behind the other donors but I absolutely believe that if the U.S. showed strong leadership in agricultural development that there would be a -- a new and -- and fast list of countries who would also change their priorities because it hasn't been just the U.S. It's been virtually all the donor countries who've let this fall almost off the map I think. So I think the sooner U.S. starts the more others will -- will join and the -- and the stronger the international effort will be.
SEN. CASEY: So it's about leadership, yeah. Thank you.
REV. BECKMANN: I think there's a context of hope here. Over the last 15 years, roughly 400 million people have escaped from extreme poverty and over the last two years about 100 million people have been driven back into extreme poverty. So first, that -- that pattern that's what makes for a security issue because you have this tremendous, you know, people going -- promise and then disappointment.
It also is a hopeful situation because if we can help the developing countries recover and get through the recession in fact they can contribute to our own economic dynamism. One immediate thing that can be done even more quickly than legislation, as important as that is, is in the national -- in the White House right now it's my sense that even development -- broadly, development is not very strongly represented within the National Security Council. When the president set up the National Security Council there is no voice within the council. For example, the administrator of AID is not in the National Security Council so -- and within the -- the staffing of the National Security Council development, any concern about development or food security, is down a couple rungs.
So even before you get to the legislation, getting the -- the global food security coordinator, which is important, just in talking with the White House you might suggest that they raise the issue of hunger and poverty within the National Security Council right now. I think it's just an oversight. I think General Jones is really committed to these things but somehow it does seem to me to be an oversight.
SEN. CASEY: Mr. Paarlberg, I know I'm a minute and a half over my time.
MR. PAARLBERG: Okay.
SEN. CASEY: (Inaudible) -- a little pressure on you.
MR. PAARLBERG: That's a good question, why now, and I would say because there are two windows of opportunity open at the moment that won't be open forever. One is memories of the 2008 international price spike are still fresh and second, we have a new administration and a new Congress in Washington all at the same time, a president with a personal interest in Africa.
Either the Lugar-Casey bill or the Chicago initiative would give U.S. foreign policy makers a opportunity to reintroduce themselves to Africans, talking about something other than democratization, health, and education. Those are important.
America's been the leader there. But the Chinese have 400 companies in Africa right now making investments in infrastructure and in development. Africans are interested in that too. This initiatives (sic) gives -- this would give the United States a way to avoid being -- being finessed by those huge Chinese investments.
We're losing influence now because we're not doing enough on development. This is a response to that.
SEN. CASEY: Thank you so much. Thanks to each of you.
SEN. KERRY: Senator Risch?
SEN. JAMES RISCH (R-ID): (Off mike) -- first of all, let me say that I want to thank the chairman and ranking member for holding this important hearing and I have a question for the panel. Before I do that though with all due respect, and I mean that sincerely, Mr. Chairman, I -- this business of nitrate, nitrite runoff and phosphate runoff certainly is a problem in some areas. But I grow small grains and hay and beef and I can tell you that without fertilizer you're not going to be in business very long.
Having said that, the other side of the coin is just as important. If you overfertilize you're also not going to be in business very long because over the last five years the price of fertilizer has just spiked because of the -- number one, because of world demand and secondly, of course, because of the oil crisis. So I think that a person in Africa or for that matter America or anywhere else realizes that the difference between a 120-bushel crop versus a 30- or 40-bushel crop is the money you spend on fertilizer, and the money you spend on fertilizer returns four to one or something like that. So it's important.
The difficulty I have with the use of fertilizer over there is the fact that it is so expensive that the -- the manufacture of it and the transportation of it is -- is a challenge -- (inaudible) -- to say the least. This is the question I have for the panel and I'd ask each -- each of you to comment on it briefly. One of the things we have not spent much time in this hearing talking about is the effect of political instability and war and failed states on feeding people. We all know that the army eats first.
The warriors eat first, and that goes back thousands of years. That's always the way it's been. And we have a lot of trouble spots in the world and I'd like to get your comments on the state of affairs right now with the political instability in the world and how it affects feeding people in the world. If each of you could give me a brief shot at that I would sincerely appreciate.
MS. BERTINI: Yes. Senator, when I was with the World Food Program most of our work in fact was working with people who were cut off from food and often by war or civil strife and sometimes financial disasters, and we saw many, many millions of people go through the -- this strife of not only living amidst violence but not being able to have enough food in that process. But what we did see was persistent efforts on the part of international community not only to -- to bring peace in these areas but to get food through even in the most difficult situations, negotiating with warring factions to stop so that food can move through, for instance -- negotiating with clans to allow food delivery whether it was in Somalia or Afghanistan or -- or the Congo. So there's -- there's a lot of strong effort to do it.
But yes, we also had to try to strategize to ensure that the kind of food we were sending actually would get to the people and not get diverted. Sometimes, for instance, we chose food that was -- food that wouldn't be very acceptable to -- to soldiers to eat like bulgur wheat, for instance, instead of rice, which was much more likely to actually get in the stomachs of the women preparing it and the children eating it. What we also found though was over time so many of these countries were able to survive and begin to rebuild.
For instance, in Liberia and Sierra Leone and Mozambique, in Angola, that those were areas for -- where for years there was a lot of attention and now there's been a fair amount of success, and this is one point that shows why food aid is important because there's not much else we could do expect try to get the food aid to these people during this time but also be able to help as soon as the country is stable enough with agriculture development is absolutely critical.
MR. SPEAKER: Thank you.
MR. GLICKMAN: Just -- I'm sorry. Just a couple quick things onto what Catherine said. One is we recommend augmenting the Peace Corps' agriculture assistance personnel. I forgot what the numbers are but the whole idea is you need a holistic effort to go and help the countries rebuild.
The Peace Corps has been very, very successful. It's also been funded at rather lower levels. It used to have a great agriculture component to it and we -- we advocate increasing it. And the second thing is the land grant institutions in America coordinating with similar institutions overseas can have a great influence in both the economic and political structures of those countries, particularly if you can develop longer-term agricultural initiatives on the research and scientific basis.
REV. BECKMANN: The -- one point is just that more than 90 percent of the hungry people in the world are in places that are at peace. So there are places like in Timbe (ph), Mozambique. I don't know if you heard what I told about visiting this little place. They did have war for 16 years and terrible atrocities in this little place I visited in December.
But since '92, Mozambique has managed to be at peace but still people are really hungry and the kids are dying. So it's -- we have -- and those -- it tends to be the violent places, the humanitarian crises that get in the newspaper. But there's much more suffering in far away distant places that are remote from -- from the cameras, and in a lot of those places it's really relatively easy to make interventions that -- that can help people get out of hunger.
If I may just follow up on Secretary Glickman's point about the Peace Corps and universities. In my -- what I would like to see in terms of this new development agency would be an agency that includes the Peace Corps, includes the universities, that's participatory, that has a great website that's sort of Obamaesque, if you will, so that it involves all Americans in the effort to reduce poverty and also in developing countries that it works in a participatory way with the governments and communities.
MR. PAARLBERG: I'd just add quickly that if the goal is to reduce political instability and unrest, sometimes it's best to focus more of your diplomacy on non-military affairs. Certainly, giving such heavy assistance to the Pakistani military as we've done over the years hasn't completely stabilized that country. In Africa, things are actually improving.
Forty-seven countries is sub-Saharan Africa, Freedom House now ranks more than 20 of them as -- as democracies. Ghana just had a very successful presidential election complete with a runoff -- peace and quiet, a change of parties. Tanzania has never had a civil war there. Uganda has come back from its civil war. The problem in Uganda isn't political unrest or instability.
It's the fact that the government doesn't enough -- invest enough in -- in farmers and in agriculture. So certainly you -- you wouldn't want to place your bets on a -- on a new program in -- in Zimbabwe or in Sudan or in the Democratic Republic of the Congo right now but as -- as David says there are many places in Africa where the kind of work that is proposed both in the Lugar-Casey bill and in the Chicago initiative can go forward with -- with every chance of success.
SEN. RISCH: Thank you. Thank you -- (inaudible) -- thank you.
SEN. LUGAR: Thank you, Senator Risch. Senator Shaheen?
SEN. SHAHEEN: Thank you, Senator Lugar. Secretary Glickman, so if you're going to run for the Senate does that mean I get to go to the Motion Picture Association? (Laughter.)
MR. GLICKMAN: (Off mike.) (Laughter.)
SEN. SHAHEEN: Well, it's -- it's very nice to be able to welcome you here today and thank you for your kind words. You talked about if we were going to have a food czar or someone in charge that that person would need to have access to the president and be involved in decision making. But we heard, I think, both from Reverend Beckmann and Dr. Bertini that one of the issues is not just the central coordination but it's also the coordination on the ground in country, and as someone who has dealt with those kinds of challenges in the past as secretary of agriculture what could be done to better address that in-country coordination, recognizing that as much as we all might like to have one central agency that's doing this that's not going to happen right away. And so how do we address that coordination function?
MR. GLICKMAN: Well, it's interesting.
You know, the U.S. has developed, ironically, the most decentralized research and education extension network probably in the history of the world, and I'm not saying we necessarily could replicate that anywhere else but part of our great strength in agriculture productivity is that it is not top down. It is bottom up in how we continue to train a generation of people involved in agricultural issues.
But I -- I'd make a couple points. One is is that I think you do need somebody close to the president who is keeping his or her finger on it and that can -- can work the process in a -- in an aggressive way because the government does -- the agencies don't respond very well, I can tell you, unless the White House is involved and engaged. And the same thing is true with Congress, has to be involved and engaged.
But I think the implementing is done not at the czar level, whatever you call it. Has to be done through a coordinated relationship between what I consider is AID and all of the partnerships and nonprofits and universities and NGOs and other agencies out there. You have a lot of agencies in government, for example, who do a tremendous amount of work in research.
Much of this is applicable to growing crops and raising animals, not only at USDA but you have the whole research establishment at the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Defense Department, among other places. That's where your coordinator needs to kind of be pulling the people along to talk to each other and unless somebody is yielding the hammer they don't talk to each other. I've experienced that over and over again.
SEN. SHAHEEN: Thank you. Mr. -- yes, Reverend Beckmann, did you want to respond?
REV. BECKMANN: One thing that could be done in the short term is to -- if the administration appoints a really strong personality as head of AID with -- and signals an intent to find a way to pull AID, MCA, PEPFAR, and maybe the Peace Corps together. But if that person is a well known political figure that -- that just the force of that person can help to get these agencies to work together until the legislation can get accomplished. But the -- in the end it's got to be legislation.
In Mozambique, MCA, PEPFAR, AID are all in the same building. I talked to staff of the three agencies. It's clear to me that they don't know much about what each other's doing. Maybe at the top they do. And then in Mozambique there's a group of 19 which is all -- almost all the -- almost all the governments that are assisting Mozambique and they meet to coordinate in support of Mozambique's development objectives.
The two countries that are not part of the group of 19 are China and the U.S.A., and the U.S.A. can't be part of it because our -- our eight programs are so earmarked that the local people -- our local people can't be responsive to what the local priorities are. They -- when they get there they know they've got to do so much in -- in which sector they've got to work. So it does -- it's going to require legislation to fix it.
SEN. SHAHEEN: Thank you. Ms. Bertini, you pointed out that it's women who in much of the world, particularly the developing world, produce half the world's food crops and between 60 and 80 percent of food crops in the developing world. Can you talk a little bit about how we can encourage women in those countries to continue to become more involved in agricultural productivity and -- and how we address or how we can help address some of the cultural barriers to giving women more opportunity in those countries?
MS. BERTINI: Yes, Senator, I'd be happy to. They do -- the women do do the vast majority of the work in agriculture and, first of all, from our perspective before I get to theirs -- from our perspective we have to acknowledge that and build our systems around it. We have to listen to them. When we -- when we decide we're going to do something in a particular country and we've decided in Washington and we're going to go off and do it and we haven't really listened to the people that may be the beneficiaries, we're never going to be as effective as we could if we listened to what their priorities are, what their needs are. And since women aren't in the -- any power structure anywhere except maybe here in -- on this committee they --
SEN. SHAHEEN: I think I have the least seniority here on committee so --
MS. BERTINI: They -- well, they're not people -- their job isn't to come to meetings. They're not the mayor. They're not people that we're going to get even if we go and make a kind of proforma discussion with the local community. So we have to -- we have to as -- as development experts find ways to listen to and reach those women.
And we -- we did this WFP so I could share with you separately some of the ways that that could be done and the -- the Gates Foundation is trying to work on this as well. But we have to do it as policy makers. Then from the woman's perspective, first of all, we have to be sure she's educated -- she has at least -- goes to school because educated farmers according to IFPRE that does a lot of this work, they'll -- they'll show us that educated farmers are much more productive than farmers than aren't, and there are more women who are uneducated than there are men but yet women are mostly farmers.
If -- so we have to do better on ensuring that girls have education. Then we have to think about the kind of advice they get along the way, for instance, from extension workers. There's a lot of work that needs to be done to support and improve extension in Africa and south Asia but the -- also IFPRE says that women farmers are most likely to listen to other women farmers but most of the extension workers are men.
Something like 5 percent of the extension workers are men and 80 percent of the farmers are women. What's wrong with this picture? We've got to do more to ensure that the methods of communicating with women there in -- in the -- in the fields is actually an effective method of operation.
SEN. SHAHEEN: Thank you. Yes.
MR. PAARLBERG: Some of the things you can do to help women are not immediately obviously gender specific, but if you -- if you built more wells and roads women wouldn't have to spend hours every day carrying punishing loads over long distances walking to fetch wood and water. That would free them up to be more productive in the fields, to take better care of their families.
SEN. SHAHEEN: Thank you all. My time is up.
SEN. LUGAR: Let me just conclude if I may with a couple of questions for the panel and then we'll proceed with our next panel. Right now, a great deal of discussion of our coming plans in Afghanistan and Pakistan surround agriculture. Frequently, people point out that whether it's from trying to win support of people in the hustings of those countries or in fact try to provide some sustainable government that will have to be some substitution for the poppy crops, and that's the more dramatic one, and what indeed could be substituted and who indeed would bring the expertise, the instruction, the seeds, and what have you to farmers that might in fact make a living there, in Pakistan it's a more general situation in which because of the co-sponsorship with my former chairman, Senator Biden, and now with my current chairman, Senator Kerry -- the so- called Kerry-Lugar bill providing for money for (in essence ?) food, education, health in Pakistan receives far more headlines daily in Pakistan than anything we are doing with regard to our military situation largely because the people of Pakistan are interested in -- in food.
And many are among the dying groups that we're talking about today. It's sort of an interesting separation in which vital national interest in Pakistan and Afghanistan and the focus there clearly has to be on counterinsurgency as well as stability of fragile governments, but then we very rapidly realize that the populace that might be the stabilizing factor is looking at other things and looking at our country in a different way if in fact we are interested, say, in food or in substitution for the poppy crop or things of this sort. And I mention this because we've discussed today why would anyone pay attention to the food coordinator, food czar, whoever it is.
Quite apart from the agencies that bring starved -- USAID has been prominently -- the portion of the Agriculture Department budget for all of this -- (inaudible) -- decline has been pointed out and I just simply ask for your thoughts as people -- Reverend Beckmann has addressed this in a way in terms of popular support in the country for these projects.
Your organization, Bread for the World, brings a great deal of popular support for feeding people, for the humanitarian cause we've talked about basically. But you've also talked today a little bit about how members of Congress might be influenced, why Senators and members of the House might pay more attention to this.
Could you address this a little bit more, just from your organizational outlook; as one who tries to change public opinion?
REV. BECKMANN: Well, I think in fact public support for agricultural development -- for development generally -- is really strong.
Anytime we do focus groups on how Americans think about hunger and poverty, somebody in the focus group says, "You know, you can a teach a man to fish" and they say that teach a man to fish as if it had never been said before and everybody in the focus group says, "Yeah, we've got to teach a man to fish."
So, Americans get that its not -- as important as giving hungry people food is, that that is not the optimal way to help people get on their own feet so they can feed their own families.
All the polls show that there is increased strong support for efforts to reduce hunger and poverty, especially if they are effective; people are concerned about wasting foreign aid so we've got to show them that in fact we're working to make it more effective.
It is effective, it can be more effective and also, Americans love programs that help people get on their own feet so, education for girls, helping farmers be more productive. The public support is actually quite strong and outside the beltway, the public support is strongest for reducing hunger, poverty and disease compared to say the national security motives.
It is also true that reducing hunger and poverty in the world is good for our national security. It is also good for our economy because people around the developing countries, especially poor people in developing countries, there is a lot of dynamism there and with just a little help for them to get through this crisis -- the recession in particular -- they can contribute to global economic recovery.
SEN. LUGAR: Let me just ask Secretary Glickman or Ms. Bertini, with the Chicago Report -- which is a remarkable report -- how are you proceeding to gain more recognition of this report?
Is anybody, and administration interested in the report, or other members of Congress outside our committee?
MR. GLICKMAN: Well, I would say that we started with you -- (laughter) -- and -- but -- because you and others have been leaders in the effort. But we've been making the rounds on Capital Hill and the White House and Executive Branch as well. And we're going over to the State Department today. And so we're -- and using whatever media connections we have.
It's not so much the report, although we think the report is, as -- (inaudible) -- said, a goodroad map, a strategic plan over the next five years to get things done, but to highlight the interest to enhance the popular support so that you all can do what you need to do to get the legislative process and the appropriations process moving. Our goal is to be helpful to you all, frankly.
SEN. LUGAR: Well, we appreciate that.
Finally, Dr. Paarlerg, let me just ask -- your remarkable book, "Starved for Science", that brings to the fore this question we've discussed a little bit with genetically modified seed and fertilizer today. And -- but it seems to me that this is such an important issue because of the emotions.
As I mentioned, these folks I visit with in Brussels, it so much the theological view. You know, we can talk about starving people, but --
REV. BECKMANN: Senator, I take offense to that. (Laughter.)
SEN. LUGAR: I apologize and -- a certain type of theology perhaps. (Laughter.) It was -- you know, in other words, we were talking about starving people, but this was secondary to the thought that somehow or other something is being poisoned by these strange situations. And I keep running up against that in visiting with European delegations, even foreign ministers who really haven't quite caught the gleam yet. This is a huge foreign policy dilemma, in addition to being a scientific one.
But how have you gone about -- not your evangelism on the subject, but at least the ideas that you've presented so well in your book?
MR. PAARLBERG: Well, I've always been surprised at how few critics of this technology are actually aware that farmers that plant genetically modified varieties of corn or soy beans or cotton in the United States, as a consequence, can control weeds and insects with fewer chemical sprays.
I'm always surprised to learn that the critics to this technology in Europe aren't aware that their own scientific academies have repeatedly stated in writing that there's no evidence of any new risk to human health or the environment from any of these genetically engineered seeds that are currently on the market. But they want to see evidence of benefits for poor farmers in developing countries and I think you're going to see that more clearly when the next generation of genetically engineered crops becomes commercially available.
In the next several years, farmers in the United States and Brazil and Argentina and Canada will be able to start planting varieties of corn that's better able to tolerate draught. That will be good, but the farmers that really need that draught tolerance trait are the farmers in Africa, who are repeatedly driven back into poverty when their crops fail because the rains have failed.
So my hope is that the availability of this new generation of technologies, with more compelling benefits to offer directly to poor farmers in Africa, will break through some of the fog that's gotten in the way of political acceptance in Europe so far.
SEN. LUGAR: Well, I've been especially moved by your book and the things that you've had to say.
Just from my own experience, that I've touched upon briefly, we have 604 acres inside the city limits of Indianapolis. And this is a situation because of that location in which all the wildlife of Decatur Township has congregated on our farm. (Scattered laughter.) At least 18 herds of deer have been identified by naturalists, even bald eagles coming down White River. So this is obviously a farm which is friendly to all of these birds and animals.
We've been using genetically modified seed and fertilizer from the time that my dad sort of taught me what this is all about and his yields then were 40 bushels to the acre. We're now getting routinely 160; this is during my lifetime. I've seen it and this is why I feel so strongly about it as we talk about the need for productive agriculture, And it didn't happen by chance; the Purdue University people who were very, very helpful in terms of all the extension work and all of the tracks and things that we learned about and that's important likewise.
So if I take on -- I hate to use another religious thought -- an evangelistic view of this -- (laughter) -- so be it because I've seen it, lived it and this is why I've invited people from other countries to come to our farm. Sometimes they do to celebrate Earth Day or other significant events of that sort.
But I thank all four of you for really remarkable testimony. You've been tremendously helpful to our own understanding and I hope for all who have listened to this hearing. So, we thank you.
And we welcome now a second panel for our discussion today, which will be Mr. Edwin Price, Associate Vice Chancellor and Director of the Norman Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture at College Station, Texas; and Mr. Gebisa Ejeta, Professor of Agronomy at Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana.
Gentlemen, we welcome you to the hearing and appreciate very much your participation.
I'll ask you to testify in the order you were introduced; first of all, Mr. Price and then Dr. Ejeta. And I would ask, as Chairman Kerry suggested at the beginning, that if possible, you summarize your remarks in five minutes or less and your full statements will be made a part of the record. Do not ask for permission, it will occur.
I call upon you now, Mr. Price, for your testimony.
MR. PRICE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
It's a wonderful opportunity to meet with you to talk about revitalizing U.S. effort to improve food and agriculture production world wide. Your colleague, Dr. Borlaug, tomorrow he turns 95 years old, on March 25. By his standards, I am at mid-career now and I look forward to sharing with you what I've learned so far.
Dr. Borlaug, incidentally, has prepared a statement for this hearing and I hope that might be used as well, if necessary, appended to mine --
SEN. LUGAR: It will be made a part of the record, but let us just say the committee wishes Dr. Borlaug a very happy birthday.
We have asked for his testimony many times in the past and he has given us remarkable testimony; his whole life is remarkable. Thank you so much for mentioning the birthday and for the testimony.
MR. PRICE: Great, thank you.
In my written testimony, I cover the chronology and structure of U.S. Universities' assistance in Iraq in agriculture and I have some observations from that. Then I also cover some common lessons from Iraq and Afghanistan and then we talk about, more broadly, agricultural development world wide and remark on one of the topics that has been raised today; the relationship between conflict and development with some observations from that as well.
I won't be able to cover all of that in this time, but I refer that testimony to you.
Since December 2003, university colleagues and I have been involved with the U.S. Agency for International Development, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Defense, to rebuild Iraqi agriculture. There was very early advancement, beginning in 2004. We were able to work with 250 farms across 11 provinces in Iraq and put out cropping pattern trials and new technologies.
Unfortunately, by 2005, insecurity made it no longer possible for us to visit those farms and in many cases, the scientists with whom we were working at the University of Mosel and the University of Bagdad had to leave the country or were not able to visit the fields. Nevertheless, over that period of time in three years working with USAID, we were able to identify a large number of improved practices; including improved wheat varieties, improved potato varieties, mixtures of crops, veg and barley for feed production and other aspects of agriculture.
But, we were limited by the lack of irrigation. There was no energy for the pumps, there was no water in the canals, but even worse, there was no capacity to get technology to farmers because of the lack of extension services, active and well-informed and trained in Iraq.
Working with USDA then, five U.S. universities working with six Iraqi universities began to train Iraqi extension workers outside the country. We trained them in Lebanon, in Syria, in Egypt and Jordan and those extension workers went back into Iraq with funding for developing projects and were quite successful in many areas; especially in Kurdistan.
But still, the U.S. military commanders were not seeing progress on the ground; it was still very problematic in much of Iraq. So in February 2007, a team of seven university people joined with the Department of Defense Task Force for Business Stabilization Operations to assess from the vantage point of the forward operating bases around Iraq what was the situation in agriculture.
I happen to arrive at Fob Warhorse in Diyalah, along with the surge of the troops -- the first surge troops in 2007 -- and unfortunately, departed on the same helicopters that took away the first heroes of that action.
We were able to see from the ground though, that there were several -- and our teams spread out to many forward operating bases all over Iraq and the kinds of things that we observed were the following: we worked closely with the provincial reconstruction teams and with the civil affairs units of the military; we found that they themselves say that there were three things that limited their effectiveness.
One was that they didn't have the breadth and depth of science that is required to really find the solutions to the problems that they were facing with farmers. They could often see what the problem was, they could maybe half solve it or two-thirds solve, but always there was evidence of not being able to quite get to the result.
The second problem was that they didn't have much contact with the farmers. They're very luck, even today in the PRT's to be able to spend two or three hours a week in contact with farmers, at least until recently, because of the security situation, the ability to have protection as one visits the fields.
Then the third thing that was a problem was that there were no Iraqi plans for agricultural development from the Bagdad level to the provincial level to the community level. There was simply no plan.
The military generals in Iraq asked for agricultural specialists to serve directly under the commands so that they could have direct access to information and technology. So in June 2008, working with the Task Force for Business Stabilization Operations, we fielded 14 broad agriculturalists working directly under the commands in the central to southern part of Iraq. We spent about 65 percent of our days in the field, we formed 4-H Clubs, introduced drip irrigation, introduced curriculum at universities and livestock management.
This was a very unique relationship and it was a very successful relationship. I wish to quickly indicate just some of the things that we learned.
We need much more study on the relationship between development and conflict. We need to understand how can communities prevent conflict or how can communities survive conflict and what are the best paths for emerging from conflict. We found that technological information was severely limiting, that there were poor genetics in animals and plants.
Also, because of the years of governmental control, there was very little knowledge on farms of how to manage their inputs. Also, we found that one of the most debilitating aspects was the failure of our own agencies to work together to solve problems; earlier it was alluded to the fact that there was lack of cooperation, particularly in Iraq and Afghanistan. It emerges even to the point to, sometimes, hostility and competition between the agencies.
I wish to mention two key problems that I find common between Iraq and Afghanistan, and conclude there.
One of them is -- I have not heard it mentioned today -- the frustration of youth in the rural agricultural sector is one of the driving features of terror and conflict in these countries. We find it in Africa and Latin America, in Afghanistan and Iraq. We need more; the International Development Agencies, the CGIR, even university extension programs fail to focus on youth. We've worked with youth in Iraq and Afghanistan and we know that much, much more can be done there.
The second major issue that we face is lack of secure access to land rights. Farmers in Afghanistan and Iraq farm their land under a succession of law, rules and regulations, under which they don't know from one year to the next if they have access to land. Under these conditions, its not possible for farmers to invest in irrigation or invest, more importantly, in drainage -- salinity has become a very severe problem.
There's a wide range of other issues I would enjoy talking with you about, but we really strongly urge that in the future effort, that we have programs that look at youth, programs that are good in developing technology extension to the farms in the region and that we find ways to work effectively together among our agencies.
SEN. LUGAR: Well, thank you very much, Mr. Price, for your testimony; likewise, for your own participation in Iraq.
This is really the most graphic testimony I've heard about developments going on in Iraq and we've touched upon that a little bit earlier today talking about Afghanistan and Pakistan. Iraq and that experience is certainly a very important part of our thinking.
Dr. Ejeta, would you please proceed.
MR. EJETA: Senator Lugar, members of the committee, I'm very grateful for the opportunity to appear before you today and submit this testimony.
I am Professor of Plant Genetics and Breeding at Purdue University. However, my true credentials to speak on the topic of global hunger arise from the life I lived as a child in Ethiopia and the work that I have done in international agriculture development. Like most Africans, I was born of illiterate parents with little means and raised in a small village with no schools in west central Ethiopia.
Nothing in my childhood would have suggested that I would be here today. And yet, by the grace of God, I'm invited to sit here today before this distinguished committee in this hallowed institution of this great nation to provide this testimony as a notable scientist with some repute. This is a very long journey from that village in central Ethiopia that I'm sorry to report also has not changed much since my childhood.
In the written record, I speak about how other visionary leaders who once sat in similar seats as members of this committee some 60 years ago envisioned the building of institutions of higher learning in developing countries as a key foundation for global development and extended President Truman's Marshall Plan to developing countries and gave poor kids like myself a fighting chance.
In Ethiopia, I attended the first -- an agricultural vocational school and then a college of agriculture, both of which were established by Oklahoma State University under the old Point Four Program. And as luck will have it, I attended graduate school of Purdue University again with support from the U.S. Agency for International Development.
My professional career started 30 years ago exactly this month, when with a fresh PhD from Purdue University, I joined one of the international research centers headquartered in India.
I was stationed in the Sudan, a country many consider one of the more difficult places in the world to live and work. My time there was very productive and memorable however, as in my five years there, I developed the first commercial sorghum hybrid in Africa. That high yielding draught tolerant sorghum hybrid is now grown on 1 million acres in Sudan annually.
For the last 30 years -- five years in Sudan and 25 at Purdue University -- I have been conducting international development work in crop improvement, and through this process -- again with support mainly from the federal government of the United States -- I have trained a large number of graduate students, both U.S. citizens and Africans and I have also conducted more crop improvement research that have benefited the food in Africa.
In return, today in turn, I'm devoting my life as a beneficiary of the technical assistance program, devoting my life to the well being of poor people, especially those that I know best, rural Africans, through science.
Mr. Chairman, as you gather from the presentation of the distinguished panel that just testified and the excellent document prepared by the Chicago Council, hunger and poverty have been relentless. However, I believe eradicating hunger, as you had indicated yourself, is within our reach.
In my opinion, to improve the lot of the rural poor, it is essential that three nuggets are addressed.
One, it's very essential that science is given a chance -- science-based improvement in technology is affirmed.
Second, for appropriate science based changes to be generated and delivered, institutional and human capacities must be strengthened. I'm concerned that of all the problems that I see, the decline in resource commitment to capacity building may derail all the gains that we've had in the past. Investment in public institutions that build scientific capacity in research, education and technology transfer require greater reinforcement today more than ever. Private entrepreneurship and institutions that create incentives for commercialization, support markets, finances risk management and infrastructure that facilitates commerce need to be greatly encouraged.
Third, supportive public policies are a must. Empowerment of local institutions and local cadres is an indispensible ingredient to making sustainable change. Without the needed incentives -- national policies as a catalyst and the sustained resource commitment that should follow, the likelihood of permanent positive change is very small.
I'm convinced that a more effective partnership can be designed between the U.S. government on one hand and our institutions of higher learning and research on the other in dispensing these interventions.
Let me hasten to add, Mr. Chairman, that I'm encouraged by the confluence of ideas and vision in several of the initiatives that are currently under discussion at the national level.
First, the excellent document prepared by the Chicago Council for Global Affairs articulates the overall need so clearly and identifies key institutions worthy of support.
Second, the back-to-the-basics approach articulated by the Global Food Security Act that you and Senator Casey have sponsored is very refreshing to me and is complemented well by the Chicago document.
Third, the partnership to cut hunger and poverty continues to promote research based advocacy for agricultural development in its roadmap draft document.
Fourth, the CGIAR Science Council's new mobilizing science and linkage initiative that I'm helping lead, is an effort to better link scientists in international agricultural research centers with scientists in the developed and developing countries to create better synergy and complementation.
I'm further encouraged by the emergence of a new organization. I recently spent a year in Nairobi, Kenya assisting the Rockefeller and Gates Foundations to design a new joint initiative called the Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa. It is my perception, and that of many Africans, that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is viewed as a game changer, or the difference maker primarily because their involvement is coming at a time when external investments from public governments of the developed world in agricultural education, research and development have fallen.
Even with the great generosity of the Rockefeller, Gates and Buffet families, however, the need around the world is so large that it would only be solved by marshalling internal and external public resources as well. This is also an opportune time from the point of view of developing countries.
For the first time in my life and my career, I'm beginning to see a more focused sense of purpose and commitment among African leaders, particularly with respect to visionary investment in higher education, agriculture, development institutions and infrastructure. However, the current propitious momentum will be lost without effective global leadership for international development.
That's why, Senator Lugar, I applaud the vision and leadership of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations in considering your act and today's discussion around the Chicago Initiative on the Global Agricultural Development. Your work is crucially important to reinvigorating the position of the U.S. government in support of science based development in developing countries.
Let me conclude my comments with these light words about the need and power of policy intervention. I liken agricultural development programs with diet and weight loss programs. Some weight loss programs are gimmicks, some are real. Most have something in them that works. Some produce results right away while others need time to be effective.
Regardless of which weight loss program is chosen, however, the only way sustainable, life-transforming change can be achieved is if the person commits to them and uses the newly learned discipline to stay the course and continue to eat right, exercise and clear the mind. The same principle is true of introducing new agricultural technologies to developing countries.
We can produce some positive results with most R&D programs, where infusion of money and effort demonstrate the value of our interventions. But only if local people, local institutions, and local governments are encouraged, engaged and empowered, and remain vigilant until the change is ingrained, can that to which we all aspire be achieved.
Thank you for the opportunity to share these thoughts.
SEN. LUGAR: Well, thank you for that testimony, Dr.
Let me just comment -- with the overall testimony of the two of you, you've demonstrated why it would be important for a coordinator on agriculture and food to be either a part of the National Security Council or a voice in the White House, as our president considers the points of national security; someone around the table who can speak to Iraq, as you have from your own life, Dr. Ejeta, about Sudan.
These are areas in which we have considerable foreign policy and security interests presently. And yet, on the ground, I would guess that many persons who may be taking part in those White House discussions are clearly not aware of the testimony you've presented today, of facts on the ground of what's occurred.
For instance, Dr. Ejeta explain how from the sorghum hybrid proposition that you were responsible for bringing about, you could go from where you started to a million acres of cultivation in Sudan? That is a lot of territory. How many farmers roughly would be involved in farming a million acres in Sudan of this sorghum hybrid?
MR. EJETA: Thank you and as you clearly understand, as a farmer, one of the things that we have not done very well in Africa is giving farmers an opportunity to look to science as solving their problems. And that culture of looking to research and institutions and centers for problem solution is what we haven't been able to get done in Africa in at large. One of the things that we have done in the Sudan was begin to work with farmers and farm communities and engaging them every step of the way, these scientific interventions are coming along, and the opportunity that that provides because these are hybrids and therefore new seeds need to be purchased.
And so one of the things that we instill from the beginning is the need to catalyze the creation of a private sector to mobilize the seed production activity. And in Sudan where we had hoped originally to reach more larger farmers, our hybrids went into small farmers that normally would have maybe five acres at the most of sorghum. So with that calculation, you're talking about thousands of thousands of farmers and farm families.
SEN. LUGAR: Yes, hundreds of thousands. And this is, you know, a remarkable phenomenon on the ground in Sudan now as we take a look at Sudan either from a security standpoint, a humanitarian standpoint as testimony comes before our committee. Frequently talking about hundreds of thousands of people huddled in refugee camps, the deprivation of actually pervasive in all of this. This is why the juxtaposition of this farming going on at five acre farms with something that came literally from your help is truly astonishing.
You know, likewise in Iraq as you pointed out, Dr. Price, why you've tried to work within the bounds of security that either was there or wasn't there, returned the surge group and so forth, saw at least some effects on the ground, tried to help push some more along. You know, very frequently discussions occur in Iraq about development, all sorts of contractor teams have gone out, hopefully to help with the water problem or with the power and light problem and so forth which are instrumental in agriculture likewise, but I've heard very little testimony with regard to feeding the people of Iraq or people in Iraq producing food as opposed to humanitarian shipments.
And it's interesting, and this a problem our committee deals with as well as the administration, frequently these affairs have followed our military because they were able literally to organize the agriculture situation. You know, hypothetically we could have had the State Department working on this, other civilian authorities in the USDA. But the problem of coordination at the top -- this is a good illustration -- it's been achieved by our secretary of Defense frequently who has called together the people who were required whether they were teachers or lawyers or people involved in the water problem or yourself.
But it just gets back to the need for coordination at the White House level in what is now in Iraq a national security endeavor as well as a humanitarian one because we're thinking about plans to withdraw, about life after the American troops in Iraq. And the importance of these agricultural developments now are really critical.
Let me just carry on one further thing before I ask for your comment. Mention has been made of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and we've had visits with Bill and Melinda Gates and I'm excited about their vision with regard to this. They understand productive agriculture, the need for farmers' markets. A part of their emphasis has been as creative as I understand in some areas three years of markets that were guaranteed to farmers that sort of started from scratch, wanted to make sure that at the end of the trail there was some place that given all the shipping problems they had and so forth there could be income for their families if they increase these yields beyond something needed just to feed the family.
And they've obviously worked on the science based areas. And as you both pointed out, they cannot do it all by themselves but this has been a very large contribution in the areas in which they have worked. Let me just ask is the work at the Gates Foundation or for that matter the work you've done in Iraq or the work you've done in Sudan and elsewhere, Dr., widely recognized, how have you been able to make known the kinds of facts that you've given us today which are extremely important for people who are arguing, either national security, coordination of affairs at the White House including civilian as well as military people as well as the humanitarian situation. Do you have any overall thoughts about that, Dr. Price?
MR. PRICE: One of the questions or statements often made to me is why haven't we heard about this work?
SEN. LUGAR: Yes.
MR. PRICE: Every time I give a presentation --
SEN. LUGAR: That's what I'm asking.
MR. PRICE: -- that's exactly the response. And I've puzzled over that myself. But let me say in the first place that in Iraq and Afghanistan there was anxiety in the beginning to protect the people who were in the field.
SEN. LUGAR: I see.
MR. PRICE: And so that we were actually constrained from saying very much. I remember one day, one Friday night a reporter called and said couldn't you tell me a little bit about what's going on in Iraq. And so I gave him a statement, it came out in the local newspaper the next morning, Saturday morning, within two hours I had a phone call saying, you know, you really shouldn't be talking to the press about what's going on, it could result in danger for our people in the field. Of course it was my -- they were my people in the field. So that's one of the reasons.
But yeah, the word is beginning to get out, but I can almost count on one hand the stories that have been released about the work of the agriculturalists in Iraq and Afghanistan. I can't give a good answer to that, I think that part of it came out of the security constraints. And then after that, I'm not sure that people wanted to hear what's really going on, that it was really the stories of the dangers, the stories of the distress, the drama of the distress actually was what the public was more interested in hearing perhaps and it was harder to tell the story of agriculture. It's beginning to be told and I think that through your effort and many others we should make an enormous effort because most people do not even realize that Iraqis are farmers; two thirds of the country are agriculturalists and they've been farming for centuries. So it's a very important agricultural country. They say in fact that it's an agricultural company that happens to have oil.
SEN. LUGAR: Without underlying the obvious with two thirds of the population's you say in agriculture, Americans who are involved in agriculture in Iraq are appreciated by the people that are involved in agriculture. You know, that's sort of the strange fact which is obvious but frequently we are cited polls that indicate do you want the Americans to stay or do you like Americans around or something of this variety. And very large percentages say no, we don't, they're intrusive and cause trouble for us and all the rest of this, and we are very resentful. After all we feel that we've displaced the dictator, we're trying to bring about democracy, trying to do a number of good things. And to be so resented by the population seems for us to be totally wrong.
On the other hand, what you're pointing out is there is clearly an avenue not just something to win the hearts and minds of Iraqis, but as a matter of fact to work on fundamental situations against poverty, for food that might be helpful in elevating the standard of living; in other words people might say it was really a nice thing to have some of the Americans around, that we got better crops, a better life, because they were here in that fashion. And I mention that because frequently we have tried on a foreign policy way to say that after all Iraq might be if not a shining star in the firmament of that area, someplace that conspicuously was better. And this has always become a dubious point of debate, but not so with the two thirds you're talking about. And this is why I'm hopeful this story might have greater currency. As you say security reasons may have impelled that do not tell the story but now, you can. And we're doing so today for anybody who's listening, and it's an important story.
Likewise, Dr. Ejeta, in the work that you have been doing throughout your life as somebody who came from a country that had great needs and as you pointed out still has great needs. May not have moved that far along the metrics of this, the fact is that from that experience and informed by your own childhood and then what you found in the rest of the world, you've accomplished great things.
But take Sudan again, the site of a million acres being farmed, maybe five acres at a time by, if you do the math, 200,000 farmers, this is a lot of people in Sudan, Sudan's a big place and we don't all understand the dynamics of where Darfur is as compared to various other parts in the conflicting tribes in all, but even in the midst of this, there's something going on here that offers it seems to be a platform for not only aid and assistance but for real progress, for people to understand how their lives could be informed and changed.
In addition to that, you know, what other countries do you believe we have real possibilities, given your research the particular ways in which you have furthered agricultural knowledge?
MR. EJETA: Thank you, Senator. As you clearly indicated, in the bill that you sponsored and also in many times as you have articulated very clearly the power of public situations in supporting agricultural development, and that's the kind of testimonial that is going on around the world. In many developing countries as a result of early investment of U.S. government in building institutions and training and educating young people. Even in places where that support had eroded over the years, the vestiges of what was left behind in terms of institution building, capacity building, are paying dividends today. As you indicated, the work in Sudan, this hybrid was developed nearly 20 years ago and yet with all the isolation that country has suffered from, yet they continue to benefit from that intervention that was left there.
So when you advance the cause of agricultural science, change minds of farmers to adopt new technologies, as you train and educate young people and build capacity, as you leave behind institutions of research and extension in these countries, those are sustaining the kinds of change that we all want to see. And in my opinion that is a refreshing part of the bill that you are sponsoring and I hope it gets to see the light of the day because it has significant ramification in solving the problems of developing countries down the road.
SEN. LUGAR: Let me just ask both of you because you were constrained by our guideline to try to have five minute opening summary, more or less, and you've mentioned of course the more complete testimony that's in the written testimony you've submitted, but if you had a few more minutes, Dr. Price, what would you like to add that you were not able to articulate to this broader audience?
MR. PRICE: Thank you. First of all, let me just say in response to your previous comment about our presence seemingly being resented sometimes, I didn't find that in Iraq in fact, our relationships at the community level were extremely warm. There were tears in the eyes of the leaders when we came, they said you're the first people who've shown interest in our farms, in our families, and how we live.
SEN. LUGAR: That's an important statement all by itself. Yes, indeed.
MR. PRICE: That's right. But thank you very much.
The areas that I would like to talk about in addition to when we talk about food security, it's very important that we also think of non-food agricultural production as well as ecosystem services. In order to have food available to consumers, it's in a market place and that food competes for land with other crops. And now we're very concerned about how the possibility that biofuel production has competed with food production.
I believe science has an answer to that. We know from many different types of technologies that it's possible for technology to produce both vegetable oil for human consumption and animal feed. Technology can solve some of these conflicts that we see immediately or some of this competition. I believe it's important while going for improving food production that we also look at the technologies for the non-food production to make sure and also the eco-system services to make sure that we're doing all of those together and not simply competitively.
Another area that I would talk about more extensively about our work in Africa. Working again with other U.S. universities, we responded in the post conflict situation in Rwanda to develop women's cooperative that have raised the Rwandan coffee production from a minus 15 percent C grade all the way up to a premium coffee in Rwanda, it's transforming communities all over the country.
SEN. LUGAR: Wow.
MR. PRICE: And this kind of model we feel is one that is going to be fruitful elsewhere but at the same time while we were doing that, a colleague and I from USAID got caught in the wrong place at the wrong time in the Ivory Coast, and we saw the eyes of the rebels and for the next two years, I went back again and again to negotiate with the rebels to make a place that we could begin again to do agricultural research. And here again I return to the problem of youth. When we work with these leaders on the fourth novel of West Africa. It was the young people who had no future who had joined these forces and were being led to rebel in their countries, so again I come back to the notion that we really need to look at the problem of youth and despairing youth in the many populations where we work, not only in Central Asia and in the Middle East, but also in Africa and Latin America.
SEN. LUGAR: Thank you, sir. Dr. Ejeta?
MR. EJETA: I like to go back to what I'd said earlier and maybe and clearly articulate that and that is that the back to basic approach that I sense in your bill that education is important, research is important, technology transfer is important. The power of changing minds in farm communities. In my paper I indicate clearly even in this country with all the resourcefulness with all the desire to advance, when hybrid corn which in my opinion was really the true first green revolution in the world, when that came about, it took nearly 25 years to grown from zero to 95 percent of the acreage in this country because farmers are very deliberate, they need to see whether or not there is return to their investment.
But once farmers opened up to new technologies, and then there was a private sector in industry in place and 20 years later when there was a hybrid sorghum it was introduced in this country, in five years we were able to get from zero to 95 percent. And so this process is a very long term process. It requires education, changing minds, one mind at a time in developing countries, particularly when you are a variety of biophysical and cultural diversity.
That education is a long term process. But to be able to do that, just like you would need seasoning and mentoring with individuals, an institutionally also requires that kind of mentoring and seasoning. And therefore the old system that this country had invested through strengthening of an institutions in South America, in Asia, in Africa, I would like to see that opportunity come back again where sister universities in this country will have relationship with developing countries in the situations to share that knowledge, to share that gained wisdom through time so that what happens in Africa today doesn't happen. What happens is people who are not well trained are turning around and training the next generation because the need is so great and it's a very desperate situation.
I think this is a very win/win situation for the U.S. to share what it is good at because I'm a product of this system and therefore I'm biased but education in the United States particularly higher education in this country is par excellence. It compare to anything that you see in other countries. The fact that the land grand was the concept is a beautiful concept of tying education, research, and technology transferred together. To be able to share that and begin to implant it, ingrain it in the minds of people and the leadership. And then as I said you understand policy a lot better than I, but that policy element to make sure that the policy, the leaders of the country have faith and respect in education and science and make sure that they support that activity because it's in the long term interest of their nations is very important.
And one last point is something that has been clearly deliberated earlier in the first panel about coordination of all program providers. And we talk about it mainly from coordination here and as Dr. Bertini indicated, even coordination on the ground over there is very important. Not only is rural development, particularly in science based activities because if you go to any one of these poor countries, the institutions there are not well staffed, and yet in any one country, there is on the average about 30 different agencies involved in agriculture development.
And when you look at it from the point of view of developing countries, their few staff would be entertaining these science providers and therefore it really is taxing their time and their effort and so some coordination of agencies now only from this country, from all around the world, that requires significant care and coordination of those activities that whatever can be done in that regard would be very, very useful to be more deliberate about channeling our efforts together so that it's more concerted, more synergized for greater benefit.
SEN. LUGAR: I like the thought that our universities might get together with comparable institutions or people in education anywhere in Africa or Asia or the Middle East, and this gets to the point that Dr. Price is mentioning about the youth. Not that everybody that attends these universities is a young person, but most are. I mean, this really is a direct way of diplomacy with the most promising group of people who have the most years still to live and contribute to this.
Likewise, I like your point about coordination on the ground. We haven't touched upon this today, but it could be that our ambassadors to each of the countries in the world as they go through their training here or through their hearings even with this committee, need to have some background in agricultural development, in food, in humanitarian interests as well as the diplomatic ones we've talked about today. And some obviously do. These are seasoned persons, those who have been through the Foreign Service for a long time as well as those Americans who come into the ambassadorships without that background.
But something has to happen in our embassies often to bring about coordination. We talk a lot about this with people dealing with state craft as opposed to the military or intelligence or they're all -- these folks are together. But these basic services on the ground you've been describing are really a very important part of their success as diplomats.
Well I -- we thank both of you. The Chairman asked me to thank both of you. He was detained in the committee assignment that he has, but appreciates as I do what we have heard today. And we thank you for your patience and your diligence and your testimony.
And the hearing is adjourned.
MR. EJETA: Thank you.
MR. PRICE: Thank you. Good job, thanks.