The world is at a critical juncture. Population is projected to reach 9+ billion by 2050 and food supplies will need to more than double to meet demand. Feed the Future is an ambitious initiative to reduce global hunger and alleviate poverty using a country-driven approach. It seeks to be a “whole of government” effort, marshaling the significant resources of the United States government in the pursuit of progress on some of the most vexing of all human challenges.
A major emphasis on research is needed to produce new technologies, policies and approaches to reduce poverty and malnutrition without degrading the environment and to increase food supplies and availability in significant ways. In 2010, a draft research strategy guiding global agricultural research investments under the initiative was developed. The strategy was undertaken to help focus research under the initiative in ways that most effectively advance the goals of reducing poverty and hunger. Research investments in the broad areas of productivity gains, production systems, and nutrition and food safety were emphasized in this draft strategy.
If FTF research investments are to achieve real success, they must draw on the creativity, insights, and energies of the various communities of researchers working on agricultural development and hunger alleviation. To that end, USAID and USDA partnered with the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) and the Board on International Food and Agricultural Development (BIFAD) to convene a consultative process for engaging the US and international research communities to respond to the strategy and to identify research opportunities that support FTF’s research goals. An initial workshop was held at Purdue University in January 2011 to set the context for the discussion and frame a process. In May 2011 an e-consultation was held, followed by a stakeholder forum, convened in Washington DC in June 2011. This consultative process was designed to allow research stakeholders to further refine research priorities and identify opportunities for new ways of working in order to inform FTF research implementation efforts.