Global food security is one of the biggest obstacles to economic development and poverty reduction. Working with its partner countries, the Millennium Challenge Corporation has been on the forefront of addressing food security priorities since its first compact in 2005. MCC’s food security investments strengthen agricultural and rural economies in poor countries and promote reliable access to sufficient, safe and affordable food.
MCC’s model emphasizes country ownership. MCC’s partner countries develop compact programs to address their most significant barriers to economic growth and poverty reduction, informed by economic analysis and reflecting consultations with civil society and the private sector. Given the opportunity to set their priorities, almost all MCC partner countries have prioritized investments related to food security. To date, MCC has obligated more than $4.5 billion to strengthen agricultural and rural economies in poor countries and to address the many sources of food insecurity.
MCC addresses the many sources of food insecurity
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to improving food security. Because they target specific weak links in agricultural value chains, MCC’s food security investments vary widely by country. Many projects take an integrated approach and seek to remove several key constraints in the value chain simultaneously in order to allow the agricultural sector to grow and farmers to increase their incomes. The following are examples of some of the investments that MCC is making that contribute to greater food security:
In Armenia, MCC made the single largest investment in the country’s irrigation infrastructure in the last 30 years. MCC-funded investments improved 485 miles of irrigation canals, providing access to reliable irrigation for more than 420,000 farmers, 40 percent of the rural population.
MCC helps improve property rights and land policy to ensure that farmers have access to secure rights to land, and that land administration institutions can effectively and transparently provide services. Establishing household land rights and helping resolve land conflicts makes it easier for rural people to secure an asset to farm and build on, use as collateral for a loan or pass along to their children. MCC has supported property rights and land projects in 13 of its compacts.
MCC investments aim to lower transportation costs to boost production of agricultural products. MCC’s rehabilitation of rural and regional roads in a fertile agricultural area of western Tanzania and on Pemba Island will increase commerce and help connect communities to markets. This project also includes rehabilitating the airport runway on Mafia Island, which will facilitate greater market access and increased trade.
MCC helped upgrade the Port of Cotonou, Benin’s largest seaport, into a world-class facility with expanded capacity, more transparent operations, and improved customs procedures to help link Benin with markets in Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, and Nigeria. The port provides more affordable and efficient export markets for farmers, reducing the time required to export fresh produce and thereby reducing post-harvest losses.
In Morocco, MCC built and equipped improved landing sites for fishing boats, constructed wholesale fish markets, improved port facilities, and trained and equipped mobile vendors with refrigerated vehicles to assure the quality of fish delivered to consumers as part of a project expected to benefit more than 125,000 people.
MCC funded an agricultural finance program in Honduras, allowing farmers a greater opportunity to invest in their own businesses. This involved working with input suppliers to offer farmers credit (which they would repay after harvest) and providing farmers with training on creating business plans and on entrepreneurial skills. In all, more than 10,800 agricultural loans were disbursed.
MCC supports farmer training across the world, including helping 107,000 olive and date producers in Morocco boost the volume and value of harvests, 15,000 coconut farmers in Mozambique control the spread of a serious disease threatening the trees, more than 66,000 farmers in Ghana increase production of high-value exports, and 1,635 milk producers in Nicaragua better manage their livestock and improving dairy production.
MCC is investing in nutrition in Indonesia to reduce and prevent low birth weight, childhood stunting and malnourishment among children. The project will target up to 7,000 villages in provinces where rates of stunting and low birth weight in infants and children up to two years old are higher than national averages.
Contributing to the global agenda
In May 2010, the U.S. Government launched the interagency Feed the Future initiative to help sustainably reduce hunger and poverty through increased agricultural development and nutrition programs. MCC continues to actively support the development and implementation of Feed the Future, leveraging nearly eight years of agriculture- and food security-related investments and sharing experiences and lessons on measuring results and accountability.
MCC is leading the way toward improved food security investments. In 2012, MCC released independent impact evaluations for farmer training programs in Armenia, El Salvador, Ghana, Honduras, and Nicaragua. The results of these evaluations are helping MCC and the development community improve implementation of farmer training programs and better design and carry out future impact evaluations.
In addition to these first five completed evaluations, 36 additional impact and performance evaluations of investments related to agriculture and irrigation are planned or underway. Thirteen impact and performance evaluations of land projects and activities are scheduled, as are approximately 20 independent evaluations related to food security investments in rural roads and other infrastructure.
To learn more, visit mcc.gov/foodsecurity.