In his opening keynote to the conference at the First Global Conference on Biofortification, Ambassador William J. Garvelink observed that there’s been a significant decline in funding for agriculture over the past decades. However, the tide has changed. The US Government has committed 3.5 billion over three years on agricultural led development through Feed the Future (FTF). With its focus on smallholder farmers (most of whom are women), women (and, thus, children and nutrition), and increasing agricultural productivity, among other things, FTF is different from past efforts.
Garvelink said that “strong mechanisms to hold both ourselves and our partners accountable for achieving sustainable outcomes in food security,” were being put in place. Food security means better access to better quality food. “We are witnessing a revolution in our approach to nutrition,” he said. New foods such as orange sweet potato with vitamin A, and iron-rich beans for Africa were examples of how agricultural tools could improve global health.
“If there is one thing I want you to remember from my speech today it is this: the momentum to link agriculture, research and nutrition across programs is greater than ever before. We must capitalize on this energy. The time has come for us to channel the powers of modern agricultural technology to reduce the single largest public health problem in the world: malnutrition.”
See Ambassador Garvelink’s full remarks as prepared for delivery.