Private-Sector Engagement in Food Security and Agricultural Development

With the introduction of Feed the Future (FTF)—the U.S. government’s program to refocus foreign assistance on agricultural development—the private sector has been named a priority partner. The U.S. food and agriculture sector is a thriving, complex industry that has benefited from a legacy of exceptionally strong partnership with the public sector. Land grant universities, extension services, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture all support a network of producers, marketers, packagers, and grocers in their efforts to improve food quality and safety, increase productivity, protect the environment, provide greater convenience, and keep food costs low for consumers.

International markets have expanded dramatically over the past 30 years, in large part due to trade liberalization and increasing demand driven by a growing global population and rising incomes. As private companies learn how to operate in key emerging markets, they gain insights, credibility, and goodwill for future investments. Although companies have a number of opportunities to collaborate with U.S. government programs, matching up with FTF priorities and target countries can be a challenge, and it can be difficult to find the right connection between FTF and a company’s specific skills and goals. Going forward, maintaining and supporting the focus of FTF priorities are important, but ways must also be found to encourage investment and work in countries that, while not FTF countries, could generate strong results from private investment in the agriculture sector.