Laurie Garrett, an expert on Global Health at the Council on Foreign Relations and a good friend to Acumen Fund, has written a thoughtful and compelling article (Food Failures and Futures) on the global food crisis and I urge everyone to read it. She breaks down the crisis into its component parts, showing how the high price of food is connected to global warming, oil prices, increasing demand for goods from a growing global middle class and swelling population.
In the article, Garrett argues powerfully against giving food aid as usual (and draws a connection to how food aid as “charity” demeans people in the developing world.) Instead, she suggests that we need a greater focus on “empowering possibilities of direct investment in the tools of efficient agriculture: reapers, sowing machines, tractors, irrigation systems, fertilizers, high quality seed stock, and the like.”
We need more such thinking – and calls for action – in the world. Finding ways to help 400 million farmers invest in their own fields and lives, therefore producing more food for the world at large, must be part of a growing solution to a crisis everyone is facing. We have gained some insights into different approaches to increase individual productivity and the challenge is to dramatically scale those innovations that are working while also engaging in the larger debates around how to reduce traditional approaches and encourage more market-driven ones on a large-scale basis.